The Ivy House

The Ivy House (151 High Street) was probably built around 1800-1817.  George and Sarah Penney married in 1817 and moved into Ivy House just before the birth of their first child, George Robert, in 1818.

1888 Map extract showing the Ivy House

George Penney was a prominent Poole citizen.  He was a leading reformer and Friend, a member of Poole Corporation from 1830, a magistrate in 1838 and the first Liberal Mayor of Poole in 1840-1841.

The Penney family name occurs in the minute books of Poole and local Friends’ meetings from as early as the 1770s.  George Penney’s niece described him in a letter:  “He was a decided Friend, but not a very strict one.  He attended the Friends’ meeting all his life.  He was rather tall and very handsome- a perfect gentleman & Christian, thoroughly true & honourable and very kind hearted.”

The book Ebb Tide at Poole shows that George Penney was not always enamoured with Poole as he is quoted as saying “I do not participate with thee in thy love for our ‘Noble Town and County’.  Tis a very poor place.”  Despite this we know that George and Sarah enjoyed the lifestyle in Poole as they would often sail their yacht, the Ann, from Poole Harbour along the Dorset Coast.

After the death of George and Sarah Penney their three unmarried daughters, Catherine, Elizabeth and Mary, occupied Ivy House.  They lived in The Ivy House for all of their long lives, from 1820 when Catherine was born to 1913 when Elizabeth died.  Therefore they saw almost a century of High Street changes and development. 

The Ivy House, Poole from the collection of Poole Museum Service

The sisters were Friends by birthright but as time passed their interests diverged and they became members of the Skinner Street Congregational Church.  They were very interested in the Christian work carried out at Skinner Street and they held classes for women and girls for many years at The Ivy House.

After their death a tablet in the meeting house near their seat read: “Three sisters who were members of the church and lifelong residents in this Borough whose piety, generosity, and devoted service made them beloved by all who knew them.”

In the 1923 Kelly’s street directory The Ivy House is listed as 151 High Street and is occupied by:

“Olivey, John, Michael, Abraham B.A. cantab, L.R.C.P. Lond, M.R.C.S. physician & surgeon, hon. surgeon to Cornelia Hospital & medical officer & public vaccinator, No’s 3 & 5 district Poole Union.”

A succession of different surgeons are then listed in the premises right up to the 1950s .  By 1955 the house is taken over by Westminster Bank.  This bank eventually became Nat West, which is still there today.


My Ancestors by Norman Penny, available to read in Poole History Centre

Ebb Tide at Poole by John Hillier, available to read in Poole History Centre

Kelly’s Directories are also available in Poole History Centre

Consult the Census 1841-1911 in any Poole Library on Ancestry or in Poole History Centre.



About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver -
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