Despite a very varied social life, Josef Pekář remained a bachelor until the end of his life. The close relationship with the daughter of his university professor Jaroslav Goll (1848-1929) seems to have been the most serious. However, there was a considerable age difference between them, and it appears that Pekař’s professor himself intervened to prevent the relationship developing further. For the rest of his life, Pekař was alone except for his maid and his half-sister Marie, although some of his diary entries seem to indicate that he kept various forms of contact with women. Despite his protestations of clumsy social behaviour, he was often at the centre of social events and an avid target for many listeners.
Two of his great passions were food and smoking. He liked to go to various Prague restaurants, where he would read newspapers for hours and eat his favourite dumplings with cabbage. He was very well aware of his peculiar lifestyle, as was evident in his reaction when he was proposed by some politicians as a possible presidential successor to Tomáš G. Masaryk. In a letter to one of them, he vigorously refused this option, pointing out how he lived: “An old bachelor, eating lunch and dinner in pubs, should now receive envoys of foreign powers, invite them to dinners and receptions?”
“Our company here likes its chairman. It doesn’t mind his occasional bad moods, scolding, irritation; it knows that it’s just a safety valve of his nature, a cloud in the sky of his calm life, avoiding the exceptional; it happily tolerates his cruel anecdotes; in all eyes the reflection of love is seen, associated with his benevolent smile; after all, it’s Pekař. He presides over our company, holds it together and keeps it from falling apart. Without him, it would go dark, but if it did, he would be the one suffering most.” Václav Müller, regular at U Kupců pub in Štěpánská street in Prague, 1930
Thanks to the activity of the Turnov town doctor, MUDr. Antonín Šlechta, the spa already opened for its first guests in 1841. It was officially presented to the public on 15th May the following year. Over the years it has become a sought-after destination and an oasis of peace for guests from various parts of the world (in the guest lists, there were visitors from Europe, Asia and America). Josef Pekař also fell in love with the spa. He had already stopped travelling from Prague to his family in Daliměřice in the summer months, trying not to overburden them by making use of other accommodation options. In 1896, Pekař for the first time was not at home with his parents during the holidays – he was preparing for his habilitation. During the summer he would stay in Turnov or at the Šteklov guest house in Hrubá Skála (July 1897, August 1899), and later also in Sedmihorky. According to the spa guest records, Pekař stayed there for the first time during the holidays in 1902, then in 1906 and 1907, and from 1913 onwards every year until his death. He always lived in the same room (“We in Sedmihorky are conservative,” he said), and from there undertook his walks around the area. His afternoon coffee was traditionally taken at the pub U Hloušků in Hrubá Skála.
"But what can be said against the Turnov area? I was in Sedmihorky on Monday and have the opportunity to compare and consider that not objective but subjective values are the true values.” Josef Pekař, 1903
He was always recognisable in the spa area when he walked with his shirt open, a coat casually draped over his shoulders, a bundle of newspapers under his arm, a burning cigar in his mouth and an old hunting hat on his head. He spent the last time in Sedmihorky spa during the summer holidays in 1936, and visited his beloved region shortly the same year at Christmas to give his last farewell to Sedmihorky.
Brewing is one of the oldest production activities in the historical territory of Bohemia and Moravia. The first mention of beer production is documented in connection with the Břevnov Monastery, which was founded in 993. During the 13th century, when royal towns were founded in large numbers, the newly founded towns gained a number of privileges, among them the brewing right. Later, the nobility also began to realise that brewing beer was actually a very profitable business. From the 16th century, the construction of breweries owned by the nobility increased. Breweries in Svijany (1564), Hrubá Skála (1568), Hrubý Rohozec (after 1570), Kost (1575) and Malá Skála (around 1580) were newly built in the Turnov region. The breweries owned by the nobility and founded in the 16th century ended their activities during the first half of the 20th century. The brewery at Malý Rohozec is one of the last two in the vicinity of Turnov that survived.
In 1834, Prince Rohan sold the estate to Ferdinand Xavier Unger of Hodkovice (1796-1849). Shortly after the purchase, the new owner decided to build a brewery on his new manor, especially as prosperous businesses of this kind were part of virtually every manor. The permission to build the brewery in Malý Rohozec was subsequently issued in 1847 by the regional authority in Mladá Boleslav. After the death of F. X. Unger, his younger son Karel August Unger (1832-1906) took over the manor. Rohozec beer was popular not only in Turnov but also in the wider area. In 1867 Unger presented his beer at the World Fair in Paris, where he received an honourable mention. Six years later he presented his lagers and draught beers at the Vienna World Fair.
Another descendent of the family, Karel Miloš Unger (1865-1941), sold the brewery with the estate in 1910 to the newly founded company Společenský pivovar hostinských, s. r. o, Malý Rohozec. In 1935 there were 328 active breweries in Bohemia; the Malý Rohozec brewery reached a production of 42,956 hl, and thus took 27th place. In 1948 the brewery was nationalised and incorporated into Severočeské pivovary, n. p., Vratislavice. After the reorganisation of the regions in 1960 it became part of the Východočeské pivovary, n. p., Hradec Králové, where it remained until 1989.
After a not very successful privatisation in 1994, the brewery did not enjoy a good reputation in terms of production and beer quality. The real resurrection of the brewery did not take place until 2004. The new owners gradually modernised the entire brewery and at the same time the buildings underwent a careful restoration. Now the annual production is around 90,000 hl of beer and the Malý Rohozec beer brand is available not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Slovakia, Poland, Russia, Finland and other countries.
Map of Josef Pekař´s Thematic Trail by
Jiří Lode (2020)
Helikar's Inn was a popular destination for Pekař's trips to Kost
Josef Pekař traditionally spent his summer stays in Sedmihorky
Pekař's shabby hunting hat, cloak, cane, and newspaper were an integral part of his hiking gear
In 1936, Josef Pekař was in Sedmihorky for the last time. In the photo with minister Ladislav Novák
Hostinec U Hloušků close to castle Hrubá Skála. Pekař used to stop here during his walks for afternoon coffee
Josef Pekař in Sedmihorky during children's pleasures (1936)
Employees of the brewery and the estate in Malý Rohozec (1926)