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Peel Acres

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Peel Acres
Peel Acres
was the affectionate name JP gave to the family home in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket in Suffolk. It is an extended thatched cottage which was originally named 'Nan True's Hole', and renovated by Michael Halls in the 1960s: Matching Mole paid tribute to Nan True's Hole in a track of the same name on their 1972 album "Little Red Record".

John and wife Sheila had moved there in 1969. Sheila notes, however, that originally the name 'was simply the light-hearted title John gave to wherever he happened to be living' (he used it for his Fulham flat in his 1967-68 International Times columns, and in a 1966 column for the KMENtertainer referred to his then home in Southern California as "fabled Ravencroft Acres"), and that the first home they shared in Park Square Mews (with Beautiful Peter, otherwise known as Pete Sanders, photographer) was also known as this (Peel, J. and Ravenscroft, S., Margrave Of The Marshes, Corgi Books, 2006, p. 230-1).

There was a basic studio facility in the house that had allowed Peel to record the shows for his overseas programmes since 1989 (e.g. BFBS, Radio Eins, Nachtexpress) as well as the occasional Radio 1 show (the first of these being broadcast on 09 June 1995). With the installation of an ISDN digital phone line in early 1999, Peel was able to broadcast live from home, typically done on a Thursday evening: the first such fully live show went out on 03 December 1998.

The first group to play at Peel Acres were Blur, recorded on 22 April 1997 and broadcast as a special show on 05 May 1997. Prior to this, PJ Harvey had visited and recorded a live four song set on 5 September 1996, which was broadcast on 21 September 1996.

The ISDN line meant that bands could be invited to play live on the shows broadcast from the house. The first to try out the facility were Tim and Charlotte from Ash, who played an acoustic set live on air on 15 April 1999.

On several occasions the line from the house failed and the show had to be replaced by a repeat or repeats of previously transmitted live / DJ mix sets. This occurred on 16 May 2002, 06 June 2002 and 26 August 2004. On 20 November 2003 the ISDN connection was found to be out of action but Peel and Hermeet were able to relocate to the studios of BBC Radio Suffolk in Ipswich at short notice and broadcast the programme from there. It was subsequently found that the cable had been damaged by the highways authority who had been cleaning out the gullies in the lane [1].

From 2000 onwards, Peel's Christmas specials were hosted at the family home, with the exception of 2002, which was broadcast from Maida Vale.

On Sunday 28 May 2000 parts of the house suffered water damage when a stream that runs alongside it flooded, causing the contents of the septic tank to back up into the house [2]. Although a carpet had to be destroyed, "miraculously only one record was ruined" [3].

There was further disruption over the weekend of 27 / 28 July 2002, when a power cut left the house without electricity for a full 18 hours [4]. Fortunately the impact on the programme was minimal, although the home computer was reportedly put out of action [5].

On 11 November 2003, Peel reported that he'd spent the morning unblocking a drain at the house, an unpleasant task not improved by the discovery of a dead hedgehog in it.

Live Acts At Peel Acres Edit

1997

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Peel also alluded in his final programmes to a live set from Jawbone which was to have taken place in November.

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