Prehen House was owned by the Knox family for centuries, having once been seized by the British Government during World War I. The ‘Journal’ reported on Monday, May 7 1915 that the house was ‘well inspected’ by the British Government as they struggled to find a use for it. The exert reads: “Army medical officers on Friday inspected Prehen House, accompanied by the agent of the property, Mr. T.J Trew Colquhoun, with the object of reporting on its suitability as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. If the government do not find some use for this building it will not be through lack of inspections, as Friday's is at least the third official examination, the others being carried out some months ago, when the Imperial Hotel, Bishop Street, and some other large untenanted local premises were examined.”
The house was bought by Julian and Corola Peck in 1971, who worked to restore it to its former glory. The house was passed down to Colin Peck after his mother Corola’s passing in 2014 aged 93. In an article in the ‘Journal’ in June 2015, Colin Peck was described as a ‘charming host’ who had endless anecdotes about the house and knew the story of every painting. He said at the time: “Anyone with a romantic enchantment with the past, with tragedies, with hauntings and romance will find everything they want here. And I hope they leave the place with a feeling of having dipped far into the reaches of the past.”
Unfortunately, Colin Peck died suddenly in August 2015 when he was just 56-years-old.
Prehen house is the scene of the famous story of ‘Half Hung McNaghten’, where John MacNaghten fell in love with the daughter of his childhood friend and owner of Prehen House, Andrew Knox. McNaghten tried to kidnap Knox’s 15-years-old daughter Mary Ann but when he fired a shot at the carriage she was travelling in, he accidentally and fatally wounded her. McNaghten was convicted of murder and ordered to be hanged. The rope broke as he was hanged the first time and, despite some members of the crowd believing it was divine intervention, McNaghten was successfully hanged the second time.
The house is for sale with James O'Doherty & Company and the listing for the house reads: “Rarely does such an important and iconic property come to the local market. Words fail to convey the majesty of the Derry jewel. This astounding period Grade A listed Georgian 18th century (1740) country house, outbuildings and gardens is considered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board as one of the North’s most historic houses.
“From the vaulted basements to the roof parapets, this property is absolutely breathtaking. The rusticated entrance façade leads to an entrance foyer with several high ceiling reception rooms off (boasting many original features and fireplaces) that comprise a drawing room, library and formal sitting room. Behind these formal reception rooms lie an office, utility room, dining room, large country kitchen, scullery and boot room.
“The vaulted basement boasts wine cellars, a consecrated Russian Orthodox chapel, a consecrated Church of Ireland church and various stores. The first floor includes an upper drawing room/foyer, 6 bedrooms and a bathroom
“Situated on circa 4 acres of mature grounds that include stables and a self-contained 3-bedroom cottage, this country house must be viewed to be fully appreciated."
For more information on the property, visit https://www.propertypal.com/prehen-house-96-prehen-derry/909349