Please be aware Quex House will be CLOSED if a wedding is taking place, please click here for more information.
The house has been called 'Quex' since its ownership in the 1500s by the Quekes family, who prospered from the extensive wool industry in Kent. Percy Powell-Cotton's ancestor, John Powell (1721-1783), bought the house and adjacent farm as an investment in 1777. His nephew, John Powell Powell (1769-1849) demolished the mansion, replacing it with an elegant Regency home, which was completed in 1813.
In 1881 the Quex estate was inherited by Henry Horace Powell Cotton (1830-1894), who had three teenage children, including the fifteen year old Percy, future founder of the Powell-Cotton Museum. However the Regency style building at Quex was a relatively small country gentleman’s house and did not offer the space the new family required. Therefore in 1883 Henry Horace Powell Cotton set about enlarging the accommodation. A small single storey ballroom was built on the west side (now known as the Oriental Drawing Room) and to the east of the house a portion of the servants’ quarters was demolished to make way for a large dining room, billiard room and further bedrooms.
The young Percy was heavily involved in the plans. He chose sets of tiles for fireplaces, bought a collection of Roman stones for garden decoration and designed a dark room in the cellar to further his interest in photography.
On the death of his father in 1894, Percy inherited the estate, and with it changed his name from Percy Cotton, to Percy Powell-Cotton, reflecting the family history. In 1904 he married Hannah Brayton Slater and with his new wife made further changes to the house. From 1905 a new staircase to the first floor was built and the hall was enlarged. The interconnecting withdrawing rooms on the first floor were separated to create the Boudoir, which overlooked Quex Park at the front, and a new library was created in the other half, overlooking the gardens.
After this flurry of activity, Percy’s attentions turned to his Museum and the House was altered little, apart from the occasional rearrangement of the furniture. In fact, for the rest of his life, Percy spent much of his time abroad on the African continent. Following Percy’s death in June 1940 his wife Hannah was the only member of the Powell-Cotton family living regularly at Quex. Her children were either establishing careers or their own families elsewhere. Following Hannah’s death in 1964, their son Christopher took over the running of the House, Estate and Museum, with assistance from his sister Antoinette. Neither sibling married and both remained at Quex for the rest of their lives.
The 1960s saw the first major changes to Quex House in many years. Through the decade Christopher had overseen the expansion of the Museum, and in 1968 discussions began about opening up certain parts of Quex House to the public. Finally, in 1973, visitors to the Museum could see inside Percy Powell-Cotton’s family home, when Christopher signed over a section of the House to the Powell-Cotton Museum Trust. Several rooms in Quex House are open to the public during the Summer Season (April – Mid November) and provide a special addition to a visit to the Museum. Its relaxed atmosphere and character are immediately appreciated when visitors step from the Museum galleries into the late-Victorian Oriental Drawing Room. House Stewards are on hand to welcome visitors and provide further information about the house, the family, paintings, furnishings and varied collectables.
The ground floor of Quex House is accessible for wheelchair users. Visitor Services staff, leaflets and photographs are available to describe the rooms on the first floor of the House. There is also a film, available at the bottom of the staircase, which takes visitors on a tour of the first floor rooms and some of the more significant objects and pieces of furniture within them.
For entry times, please see Visitor Information opening and admission area