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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 17th June 1955, transcribed by Gill Hollis
“The Shrubbery”
Gift home for thirty Rushden old folk

One of Rushden’s largest houses, “The Shrubbery” in Higham Road, has been purchased by Mr. W. J. A. Peck for the benefit of the town’s old people. It has been offered as a gift to the County Council and is expected to become a comfortable residential home for veterans in need of communal accommodation.

The Shrubbery
The home gifted by Mr Peck
The offer was placed before the County Welfare Committee last Friday, and it is thought that the house can be enlarged and made into a unit which can be run economically on the basis of thirty occupants.

Wellingborough and Kettering have homes of this type, but Rushden has had to rely upon out-of-town accommodation. Welfare measures for its old people have been subject to serious delay.

Mr. Peck is firmly of the opinion that old people prefer to stay in their own town. “I believe this is the only way to get a home established at Rushden,” he said. “I am doing it on behalf of my family and hope it will be something they can take an interest in.”

County Council member for Rushden South Ward since 1950, Mr. Peck is chairman of a group of companies engaged in transport, farming, garaging and radio relay.

“The Shrubbery” was originally the home of the late Mr. Paul Cave. It was purchased by Birch Brothers, the London coach proprietors, but in recent years has been held on requisition by the local authorities and used as flats.

Amos & Sarah Cave
Outside The Shrubbery are Amos & Sarah Cave who lived
next door at Rushden Villa. The coachman was Mr Ambridge.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 17th May 1957, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Donor opens new home
“A wonderful gesture and an example of public spirit”. This was the tribute paid by Ald. Ewart Marlow, Northamptonshire County Council chairman, at Rushden on Wednesday afternoon, when Mr. W. J. A. Peck, a local county councillor, opened “Risdene,” a house he purchased and presented to the public authorities as a home for old people.

DONOR of "Risdene," the house now converted into an
old people's home for Rushden and Higham Ferrers, Mr. Will Peck (standing, right centre) has a light-hearted chat after yesterday's opening ceremony with his wife (centre), and friends. Left are Mr. F. F. Parsons, chairman of the County Welfare Committee, and Mrs. Parsons; seated right is the County Council Chairman, Ald. Ewart Murlow.
Next door to Mr. Peck’s own home, “Risdene,” has been enlarged and fitted out by the County Council at a cost of £16,000. Formerly called “The Shrubbery,” it will accommodate more than thirty men and women.

Presiding at the ceremony that seventy guests attended in the dining room was Mr. F. F. Parsons, chairman of the County Welfare Committee, who wondered how many of those present were disinterestedly high-minded and how many were looking round with a view to booking a bed for themselves.

“You could do a lot worse” he declared.

One of the most rewarding works of his committee, said Mr. Parsons, was in connection with the old folk’s homes where people seemed contented with their lot and lived a much better life than some of them could have known before.

Cheaper to Adapt
“I have read criticism of spending money on existing houses,” he continued. “The critics say we should build from scratch, but they are wrong. It is cheaper to adapt than to build from scratch, and it is always a pleasant situation in a garden. Everywhere we have gone so far we have been able to find an existing place and develop it.”

After a prayer of dedication by the Rev. I. E. Douglas-Jones, rector of St. Mary’s, Rushden, the chairman asked “the very generous Mr. Bill Peck” to open the house.

Mr. Peck said it was a red letter day for him and, he was sure his family. He hoped it would prove in due time to be one for other people in Rushden and Higham Ferrers.

It was to youth that they looked for their cultural, scientific and economic progress, but they had a Christian responsibility to those who had served their day and generation.

Sites Difficulty
Mr. Peck said it was about three years ago that he first discussed Rushden’s need of a home with Mr. Abbott, the county welfare officer. He was told of the difficulty of finding sites, and when “The Shrubbery” came onto the market he felt it was an opportunity Rushden should not miss.

Relating the subsequent progress of the scheme, Mr. Peck told of a hold-up by the “Credit Squeeze” and of a successful deputation to the Ministry. He told the guests: “Now we have this home, and I am sure that when you have inspected it you will be as proud of it as I am.”

The success of the home would, to a large extent, depend on the matron and her staff, the co-operation of the people who came to live, and the goodwill of the people of Rushden and Higham Ferrers. A television set had been promised by the ladies of the Round Tablers, and he knew there would be many other offers.

Ald. Ewart Marlow, chairman of the County Council, pointed out that Mr. Peck’s example had proved to be catching, for they knew what happened at Wellingborough.

Thanking Mr. Peck for his great benevolence and public spirit and Mrs. Peck for her goodwill, he spoke of the pleasure they would derive from looking over the garden wall and seeing the old people living in comfort. Everyone who walked through the door was going to say “Thank you,” and no one could have greater reward than that.

“A lot of people,” said Mr. Marlow, “say we spend a lot of money on the old people. And why shouldn’t we? They deserve the best after the heat and burden of the day. It costs £550 a bed, and if we erected a home it would cost £1,400 per bed.

Better Than Parting
“It is keeping the old folks in the area in which they have spent their life and in which they have their children and friends. It is better than sending a car to take them away and better than the parting of husband and wife, one to go one way and one another.”

Seconding a vote of thanks that Mr. Marlow proposed, Mrs. W. M. Lean, vice-chairman of Rushden Urban Council, described the house as “lovely.” The name “Risdene,” she said, was a very happy choice; it meant a wooded valley, and they still had the valley, if the trees were fast disappearing.

The house was comfortably furnished, and she thought it was now up to Rushden people to furnish the garden with seats and perhaps a revolving summer-house.

Like An Hotel
Visitors inspecting the house found two large sitting rooms, a smaller one, staff rooms and, on both main floors, bedrooms for two, three and four people. Admiring the furnishings and colour schemes, some declared the house to be “like an hotel.” They found the garden well laid out and containing a newly paved terrace.

Mr. A. N. Harris, the county architect, placed Mr. John Neville, formerly of Rushden, in oversight of the work.

Miss I. D. Mitchell, a State-enrolled assistant nurse formerly at Park hospital, Wellingborough, has been appointed matron, with Mrs. Gold, formerly of Ringstead, as assistant matron. The first residents will arrive in about a fortnight.

Seen behind the snow-covered trees and shrubs, ‘Risdene’ makes a delightful winter picture in Higham Road after Tuesday’s heavy snowfall.

 Rushden Echo and Argus,11th July 1958
new seats
A new garden seat, made of teak, is tried out by two residents and Matron, Miss I Mitchell after the presentation of the seat, with another of similar design and four folding chairs, to Risdene old people's home by Higham & Rushden NUBSO branch.

aerial view c1970
c1970 Aerial View

The property left was built in 1882 for Amos Cave who called it Rushden Villa. When Fred Corby moved in he changed it to The Beeches. During WWI it was used as a home for evacuees. The last person to live there also had the large garden plot opposite was Mr W J Peck. The Beeches became a residental home for senior citizens, and the garden was sold as a bulding plot about 1980.

The property right was originally called the Shrubbery, later changed to Risdene when it became an old people's home, being the gift of Mr Peck to the town.

The road left is Washbrook Road, and across is Higham Road

The house was renamed "Risdene" when the council opened the home.
This list of residents in 1972/3 has been extracted from the 'County of Northamptonshire Register':


Thomas H




Lizzie E


Clara J


William J


Minnie F




Winifred F


Maud E




Frederick E






Irene F (matron)




Mable A










Martha J






Mary E









The front view of the Shrubbery or Risdene

Evening Telegraph - January 1987

When “Risdene”, the old people’s home in Higham Road, caught fire three schoolgirls, Helen Goodier, Julia Ely and Joanna Shaw helped evacuate the elderly residents. The girls also used their coats to keep them warm. [this is not the full report]

When he died suddenly in 1911, William Scroxton had been working as gardener for Mr Hyde for several months.

name plate from the gate
Name plate rescued from the gate has enamelled letters

Paul Cave
   1910 James Hyde
    Birch Brothers
County Council

Photo and notes from a
'Mike Neville' Sale notice:

'Risdene' was converted to a residential care home.

It had 13 bedrooms, 5 reception rooms, bathrooms, kitchen etc., with radiator central heating, and it stood on a half-acre plot with double road frontage in Higham Road.

It was sold sometime in the 1990s and after it had been derelict for some years.

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