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Museum plans to display historic artefacts kept at Berkhamsted School

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The home of Peter the Wild Boy’s collar could become a public museum under new plans by Berkhamsted School.

The area – which would start out as a private exhibition room – would also contain some of the uniforms worn by students in days gone by.

The school was founded in 1541 and counts acclaimed Brighton Rock author Graham Greene among its list of successful former pupils.

A collar kept in the school will be loaned to Kensington Palace in April for an exhibition about King George I.

It was worn by Peter the Wild Boy after he was placed under the care of farmer James Fenn, of Axter’s End in Northchurch. Peter was found in the woods near Hanover, Germany, in 1726 by the king and his hunting party.

He was thought to be 11 or 12 and lived on all fours, eating berries and other wild foodstuffs. King George I brought him back to his court in England to try and educate him – but all efforts to teach him to speak, read and write failed.

Berkhamsted School librarian Rachael Hine said: “He was very much a court curiosity. We believe from evidence written that he was exceptionally unhappy. He was being forced into clothes he did not want to wear. He was being forced into situations that he was not happy with, when really he just wanted to go off wandering and be more of a feral-type boy out in the wild.”

When his novelty waned, he was sent to Mr Fenn. Peter kept wandering off, so a collar was fitted to his neck.

It said: “Peter the wild man from Hanover. Whoever will bring him to Mr Fenn at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, shall be paid for their trouble.”

Berkhamsted School also houses the bottom half of a petition by Mr Fenn to the king for an increase in his maintenance fee for looking after Peter. He was given £35 a year.

The room where the items will be displayed at the school will be laid out in the style of a headmaster’s study.

 

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