The Peel Collection and Police Museum
Middleton Hall is home to The Peel Collection and Police Museum which is run by the Peel Society which was founded in 1979 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force. It is a national, non-political, historical society which is a registered charity. The Society promotes the study of the life, works and times of Sir Robert Peel and the Peel Family.
The Museum houses a unique collection of Peel memorabilia, which the Society has collected over the past 35 years. It explores the rise of the Peel family from farmers in Blackburn in the middle of the eighteenth century to the multi-millionaire cotton manufacturers, traders and leading politicians.
The main display centres on the career of the great statesman and arguably Britain’s greatest peacetime Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850), who was a near neighbour to Middleton Hall at Drayton Manor. Sir Robert Peel, 2nd baronet, was born in Bury in 1788 and died in London in 1850. However, much of his life was spent at Drayton Manor, which was the Peel family home from 1790 to 1925. The collection explains the three great reforms that Peel enacted; the foundation of the Metropolitan Police, 1829, the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829 and the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 along with the Tamworth Manifesto, 1834, the world’s first party political manifesto.
The Police Museum houses a collection of Police Memorabilia and an explanation of Peel’s reforms of the criminal justice system, the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 was drafted by Peel and remains the basis of how the police operate in the United Kingdom – a civilian unarmed force to help keep the peace. There is an interesting display of old truncheons, uniforms and even a police rattle which was used to attract attention before the invention of the police whistle in the 1870s.
The Peel Society welcomes visits from school and history groups to their unique collection, there is a small shop with souvenirs for sale, including a book documenting Peel’s political career through the unique collection of 149 hand coloured prints that the Society owns. These are by John Doyle ‘HB’. These caricatures were produced between 1829 and 1848 and are a marvellous evocation of the successes and crises of Peel’s political life.
Visit the Peel Society’s website to find out more.