written by Paul Corderoy, the then owner of Keyham House, Henham in 2005
Keyham House was formerly known as Keyham Cottage.The early history is a bit obscure but it seems that the land on which the house was built, was originally owned by John Dixon. The Abstract of the Title refers to a ‘freehold messuage (plot of land) and premises and two cottages at Henham’. Plans attached to the Abstract show the current adjacent house, ‘Elsmere’, as part of the estate.
The property was bought by George Everill in 1877. After his death in 1893, and his wife’s death in 1899, the property passed to the daughters, Annie Maude Mary Everill and Emma Elizabeth Gertrude Everill.
In 1900, Annie married Samuel Robinson of Elsenham, builder and Emma to Henry Clarke of Ipswich, butcher. Tenants in coparency (joint heiresses) was granted to Annie and Emma in 1904. W. P. Maitland of Stansted Park seems to have acted for Annie and Emma. In 1905 Emma Clarke sold her share of the property to Annie Robinson for £100.
The property next passed to William Frank Dixon, who purchased the house in 1910 with the help of a mortgage from the Herts & Essex Permanent Building Society. About this time James Bird, John Dixon, William Camp and Arthur Snow seem to have been involved in the property in some way.
The next owner, in 1913, was David Vigo of Duckets Farm, Thaxted, gentleman, who sold to Elizabeth Chaplin of 18, Admiralty St., Keyham, near Devonport in the County of Devon. Is this the origin of the house name? Betsy (Elizabeth) Chaplin, in her will of 1938, left the house to Fredrich King who inherited after her death in 1941. Walter King, in turn, inherited the house after Fredrich’s death in 1948 and subsequently sold to William Walter King in 1950.
The house remained in the ownership of William Walter King until 1958, when it was purchased by ‘the Church Commissioners for England’ ‘acting in the name of the incumbent of the Benefice of the Vicarage of Henham who was the Reverend John Barnard Taylor. Restrictive covenants were added to the Deeds at this time which include
a. the purchasers will not at any time hereafter call or designate the messuage or dwelling house to be called ‘¦The Vicarage or any other name which might suggest the said property is occupied by the incumbent’
In conclusion there are a couple of points of interest -
1. even after searching through the documents I cannot confirm the date Keyham House was built although I remember being told that it was 1891. 1910 is another possibility.
2. in an aerial photograph taken in the early 1980s, there are traces of circular ground marks between Keyham House and Starr House. Was a building there or is it a large fairy ring ?
3. although most houses of this date are of solid 9inch of brickwork, Keyham House has a 2 inch cavity.
I am also told that a member of the King family replaced the floor in the dining room reasonably recently thus maintaining a contact with the house for 50 years.