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Dersingham Folk
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Site by Mike Strange
88 Chapel Road 
Blackheath Lodge/The Sheiling /Beck House

Elizabeth Fiddick ©
The property, which today is known as Beck House, with the Red Pumps garage next door in Chapel Road, is number 147 on the tithe map of 1839 administered  by the Trustees of Robert Elwes. The schedule describes it as: "House, Building, and yard occupied by John Platten". John also occupies further lands also administered by the Trustees for Robert Elwes lying behind the house and stretching away up the hill.
John Platten

John Platten does not appear in the 1841 census for Dersingham so he is not resident here but in White’s Directory of 1845 under the list of farmers for Dersingham we find listed Robert Hunt (to J. Platten). So John obviously employs a manager to run his farming interests in Dersingham. He is certainly a man of substance as his name is found in a report in The Times newspaper of 1844. This is an account of a meeting held in the Guildhall King’s Lynn on the October 16th of that year to discuss the projected Lynn to East Dereham railway.  It was stated that the opinion of the meeting was that the projected railway would greatly conduce to the prosperity and convenience of the town. The meeting pledged to give the measure its full support and the motion to do so was moved by J. Platten Esq. and seconded by Mr. W. Cooper.

At the time of writing I have not established who preceded John Platten as a tenant or when John Platten gave up the tenancy of the farm but sometime after 1845 the next certain tenant was Emanuel Boothby.

[A great deal more has recently been learned about John Platten and some history about him can be found on our dedicated page CLICK .]

Emmanuel Boothby

The Electoral Roll of 1852 lists Emanuel Boothby as the occupant of a farm near the church. But it is the Electoral Roll of 1860 that confirms that the next occupant of the house and farm in Chapel Road was indeed Emmanuel Boothby for it identifies him as a tenant of Robert Elwes. He is also recorded in the 1851 census for Dersingham.
Emmanuel was 48 years old, born in Heacham, and farming 76 acres employing 3 labourers. His wife Charlotte was 43 and came from Shernborne. They had two sons, Alfred was 16 and listed as a farmer and his younger brother John was 7 years old. Both sons were born in Harpley which indicates that Emmanuel worked there from at least 1835 before coming to Dersingham.  Completing the household was Georgiana Woods, 15, a niece from Dersingham, who acted as a general house servant .

Emmanuel’s wife Charlotte died in 1858 aged 52 and was buried in the churchyard here. In the 1861 census Emmanuel is listed as a widower, now farming 95 acres and employing 3 men and 2 boys. His sister Emma, 55, is the housekeeper. Alfred, 26 and John, 17 are still at home working on the farm with their father. Caroline Pickrell, 16 from Dersingham is the general servant.

Alfred married Georgiana Spooner from Bircham very shortly afterward and the birth of a daughter Charlotte on 28th September 1862 is recorded in the baptism records.

White’s Directory 1864 still lists Emmanuel Boothby among the farmers.

There were two events in 1868 that involved the future of the farm. Emanuel, nearing the age of retirement, began negotiations to buy the properties lying next door to the large farm 147. Henry Elwes, the father of Robert who owned these properties, had died in 1850 and  in his last Will and Testament had appointed his son John Henry Elwes and George Law to act as his executors.  So after lengthy negotiations with the Trustees Emanuel Boothby bought the properties for £500. They are described in the Conveyance as “Four messuages, cottages or tenements with the outbuildings and gardens belonging thereto in the occupation of Thomas Chapman, James Mann, the widow Spreece, and  Thomas Hooks. A further messuage  tenement and cottage with the shed, stable, yard and garden amounting to just over one acre presently occupied by John Adcock and Richard Wells also included." These would appear to be numbered 145 and 146 on the tithe map with the cottage 137 in Shernbourne Road.
Also in the Conveyance of this sale to Emanuel Boothby the cottages are described as
“abutting on premises lately purchased by the said Robert Elwes by Joshua Freeman towards the North and West.”

The cottages have now been replaced by Mecklenburg House and the farm and land now Beck House and Garage, 147 is indeed to the North and West of it. So Joshua Freeman of Church Farm bought the Chapel Road farm shortly before Emanuel’s purchases.

In the 1871 census Emanuel is recorded as a retired farmer with his sister Emma as housekeeper. The address is given as Lynn Road.  He is no longer farming the premises at 147 and is quite likely living with his sister in one of the cottages he bought from the Trustees of Henry Elwes.

The census of 1871 tells us that Emmanuel’s younger son John married some time before 1868 and his wife Hannah from Roydon is a dressmaker. They had two children Helen 3, and Emma just 1. There is no mention of Alfred living in the village at this time. Emmanuel died the following year 1872 on December 13th aged 72. He was buried in the churchyard.
In his last Will and Testament he bequeathed  “all my freehold and copyhold land, messuages, cottages hereditaments and premises purchased by me of Mr. Elwes and being lots 2 and 3 situate in Dersingham unto my son John Boothby and his heirs forever.”

John and his family were living in one of the two cottages at 146 on the Tithe map. John died just three years later in 1875 aged just 31. The following year, 1876, Hannah sold: 

“all the messuage,  tenement,,and cottage with shed, stable and garden late in the occupation of John Adcock and Richard Wells and now in the occupation of Hannah Boothby” (146)
to John Bayliss Goggs who lived at Dersingham Hall. This is to have great significance later in our story. Hannah Boothby continues to live in the village, as a dressmaker  with her daughter Emma, a milliner, sons Horace, a butcher and Herbert, a post office clerk.

The  Indenture of 1876 confirms the ownership of the Chapel Road farm as it describes Hannah’s cottage/cottages as abutting on premises belonging to Joshua Freeman towards the West.

Joshua Freeman

Joshua was born on 3rd July 1805 in Swanton Morley. He married Susan Tingey eldest daughter of Thomas Tingey of  Bylaugh Hall.  Joshua farmed at Bylaugh until 1836 when, after auctioning  all the stock of the farm, Joshua took up the tenancy of Church Farm here in Dersingham which he would hold for the next 48 years.  The farm when Joshua took over was part of the Sandringham Estate of John Motteux.  In 1862 of course Queen Victoria bought the estate for the Prince of Wales. The 1881census tells us that Joshua Freeman is farming 1300 acres, employing 45 men and boys and 5 women.  He had built up an excellent reputation and the whole  family  was well respected in the village and neighbourhood.

Joshua and his wife Susan had a  large family.  Joshua Jun. and Susan Tingey Freeman were born in Bylaugh,  whilst  Emma, John, Frederick, Ellen and Mary Jane were all born and baptised  here in Dersingham.  The 1851 census records that a Governess Elizabeth Allen from Lynn was employed to instruct the children. There were four other servants at that time, Joyce Davis, Anne Roger, Susannah Sparham and George Belsen.

So it was, in 1868, that Joshua purchased the premises at 147 from Robert Elwes and The Prince of Wales.   It was in 1883 that Joshua finally retired and sold all his stock at auction.   He, Susan his wife and their elder daughters  retired to lived at No. 7 Vanbrugh Terrace,  Blackheath, Greenwich London.  In 1890 Joshua drew up his last will and testament. In this will, after making a few bequests he instructed that the rest of his property and assets be divided in five equal parts and divided between his children. However, he made one proviso as regards his eldest daughter Susan Tingey Freeman in the following manner: "I direct the division of  the same into five equal parts or shares one part thereof I give to my said daughter Susan Tingey Freeman after deducting therefrom for the benefit of the other four parts the sum of four thousand pounds which she has had the benefit of by my conveyance to her of the estate in Dersingham which I purchased of Robert Elwes Esq. and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales."

Thus, we know that sometime after 1883, but before he drew up his last Will, Joshua conveyed the Dersingham property to his daughter Susan Tingey Freeman. 

Joshua’s wife Susan died in 1893, and Joshua himself passed away on the 25th February 1898 at Vanbrugh Terrace, Blackheath.  It is worth noting that on his death his effects were valued at £42,350-18s-3d.  That is £5,625,800.52p  today.

Read more about Joshua Freeman in our article here:

Mike’s research uncovered the fact that in 1911 both sisters, Susan Tingey and Emma, aged 74 and 72 respectively,  were unmarried and living together at 19, Lee Terrace Blackheath where Emma had lived since 1903.  Emma died in 1913 and the address given for Susan in 1918 is 45 Lee Terrace, Blackheath.

I think that Susan named her Dersingham property Blackheath Lodge for obvious reasons and  Kelly’s Directories of 1908, 1912 and 1916 record Miss Freeman at  Blackheath Lodge.  Although she does not feature in any census return it seems she must have stayed at the farm sometimes at least to keep a check on her asset.

It is from the Directories we discover a new name associated with the property. From 1864 a James Jackson is listed as a farmer here.

The first reference I found to the Jackson family was in the Tithe Map schedule 1839 Jonathan Jackson and his wife Mary live in the old Farm House that is now No. 5 Centre Vale. On the map it is numbered 204, a House and Yard and  205 garden.  In 1841 we find Jonathan recorded as a carpenter.

Also recorded on the Tithe map but not residing here in Dersingham are James Jackson, owning a plot of arable land off Ling House Road and 4  plots comprising cottages and gardens and one plot, a house and shop all situated on Manor Road between Lynn Road and Sandringham Hill.

James Jackson, Junior, also non resident at the time, owns cottages and gardens situated opposite the old Cock Inn now The Feathers 232. This row of cottages 238 can clearly be seen on the 1884 and 1905 maps and, when I first came to the village, there was evidence by way of rubble of the cottages that had been demolished.

In 1891 James Jackson, farmer, is living with his sister Jane in a Private House next to the Grocer’s Shop at 84 Chapel Road which seems to confirm the private house is the farm property at 147.   But it is in Kelly’s Directory of 1896 that we find James Jackson listed as farmer and Dairyman at Blackheath Lodge.    It is the same in the Directory of 1900 and in 1908 -1916 not only is he recorded at Blackheath Lodge as Farmer and Dairyman but Miss Freeman is also listed as resident there. However it is from Susan Freeman’s will that we find confirmed that James Jackson was her tenant.

In her last Will and Testament drawn up in 1915 Susan  bequeaths “to my tenant, James Jackson of Dersingham King’s Lynn, the sum of twenty pounds free of legacy duty.”

Moreover she later declares that
“I give, devise and bequeath unto and to the use of the said Walter Oakes Freeman  all my freehold farm and buildings thereon situate at Dersingham now in the occupation of James Jackson. “
However In a codicil to the Will drawn up a few months later she states that in the event of her selling the farm in her lifetime that all the proceeds should go to her nephew Walter Oakes Freeman.
Further confirmation of James’ Jackson’s tenancy is found in his obituary where it states that he took up occupancy of Blackheath Lodge farm in 1890 and left in 1916.  He then retired to the Centre Vale premises the home of his father and grandfather.

It would seem that Susan did indeed sell the farm as it becomes part of the Sandringham estate owned by His Majesty the King.  In his will Joshua Freeman stated that he had bought the Dersingham Estate in 1868  from Robert Elwes and The Prince of Wales so it seems now that the ownership of the house reverted once more to the Sandringham Estate. 
Susan Tingey Freeman herself died in Kent in 1922.

The Sandringham estate would appear to have made many alterations to the original house as  a recent sales catalogue stated that the house was largely built by the estate.  It was intended that  Frank Beck the estate’s Land Agent should live in the house.

Frank was born on 3rd May 1861 at Oxwich and was educated at Elmham County School. He married Mary at West Newton in January 1891 and they settled in West Newton at Sandringham Cottage.  They had six children, Alexandra, Edmund, Ruth Mary, Phyllis Mavis, May Barbara and Victoria Olga.   Frank was the Land agent at Sandringham from 1891 – 1901 to the Prince of Wales and from 1901-1910 when the prince acceded to the throne. He continued in that role for King George V from 1910 until his, (Frank’s) death.
Frank was instrumental in the formation of the Sandringham Company of Volunteers and was appointed their first Captain on May 10th 1906. At the outbreak of WW1 he volunteered and served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in the Dardanelles. He was in command of the Sandringham Volunteers during the attack at Anafarta on 12th August 1915. During this attack a large company of the Volunteers, commanded by Captain Beck, disappeared. It was assumed that they had been cut off and killed. Frank Beck was declared missing and presumed dead.

King George decreed that his widow should have the house as a home for life which she did until her death in 1936.

The Directory of 1922 lists Miss Beck resident at Blackheath Lodge and from 1925 the Directories record Mrs. Frank Beck resident there and the house is now known as The Sheiling.

Miss Beck and Mrs. Frank Beck
May Barbara Joyce Beck was the daughter of Frank Reginald Beck. Records reveal that at some point May had lived in Africa which is probably where she met her future husband. On June 30th 1924 May Barbara Joyce Beck married Robert Rentoul Isherwood, a merchant of Accra West Africa, in the Parish Church of Sandringham.

They spent their married life at Blackheath Lodge, renamed The Sheiling with her mother. They had one son, Edward James Frank born in 1927. 

Two of May’s sisters. Phyllis and Victoria , were recorded as living with the Isherwoods at The Sheiling in 1939. Victoria died in 1971 and Phyllis in 1979 both being buried in Sandringham.

Mrs. Frank Beck died in 1936 and to understand the changes in ownership of the property we need to return to the events of 1876 when Hannah Boothby sold cottages and land to John Bayliss Goggs of Dersingham Hall.

John Baylis Goggs was a building contractor from Swaffham who employed 12 men and 3 boys. He moved here around 1871 with his wife Hannah, nine children, a governess, nurse, cook, housemaid, and kitchen maid. He was a man of some substance and in January 1873  began to increase the size of his estate.  He purchased the parcel of land described as the Great Pasture and Allotment in Centre Vale from Elizabeth Banks, widow of Harvey Percy Banks. (Subsequently  in 1884 he used that land as collateral and took out a mortgage for £2000). In 1876 he bought from Hannah Boothby the cottages and land opposite Dersingham Hall as described earlier.

It was at this time that Theodor Jannoch arrived in the village to establish his lily nursery which would become nationally famous. From Conveyances, kindly loaned to us by the present owner of Beck House, we discover that John Bayliss Goggs rented the house and land he had just acquired from Hannah Boothby to Theodore Jannoch for ten years at £16 per annum. Later, in 1880, he sold the property to Theodore for £750. Theodore made substantial changes as can be seen from this newspaper extract.

Report from The Lynn News and Advertiser May 1884
DERSINGHAM.  The lily nursery of Mr. T. Jannoch is now becoming a great attraction to visitors.  The old dwelling-house which has weathered the storms of the past two centuries has been pulled down and in its place a neat and commodious residence is being constructed by Mr. Foster, builder, the plans for the immediately adjoining grounds being ornamental in design and quite in harmony with the proprietor’s artistic profession.

The 1884 Ordnance Survey Map shows us the relevant properties in Chapel Road. Theodore’s Nursery with the newly built house now named Brandenburg House can been seen to be well established.143 and 145. Blackheath Lodge Farm under Susan’s ownership is now a sizeable concern,141 and 161.

Theodore established his Lily Nursery on these premises before moving his enterprise across to Dersingham Hall in the early Twentieth Century whilst still retaining Brandenburg House.   He died on October 29th 1925 and his estate passed to his wife Mary. Mary, who was described as a strong vigorous personality, lived on at the Hall cared for by her daughter Dora until she died in 1933 and was laid to rest next to her husband.
A Conveyance of 1935 reveals that the Representatives of Mrs. Mary Jannoch, namely her daughters Florence and Hedwig, sold a parcel of land to His Majesty the King for £50.

ALL THAT piece or parcel of land situate in the parish of Dersingham in the County of Norfolk bounded on the North by land belonging to The Purchaser on the South by land belonging to the Vendors on the East by a footpath leading to Hill House from the main road and on the West by land belonging to the PURCHASER being part of No. 143 on the Ordnance Survey Map and containing one acre and twenty roods or thereabouts as the same is more particularly delineated on the plan hereto and thereon coloured red
In a Conveyance of 1938 it is recorded that His Majesty the King  with Sir James Ulick Francis Canning Alexander ,The Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse and Coutts Company Bank sold

ALL THAT messuage or dwelling house known as “The Sheiling “aforesaid situate in the parish of Dersingham in the County of Norfolk with the garden outbuildings and land adjoining thereto forming parts of the Ordnance Survey Numbers 161 and 141 on the Ordnance Survey Map. (2nd Edition 1905) and which for the purposes of identification only more particularly delineated on the plan annexed hereto and thereon edged red.

to Mrs. Isherwood for £1100.  This was following the death of her mother Mrs. Frank Beck.

The map shows the whole property including the piece of land 143  bought from the Jannoch estate in 1935, which was known as the garden Allotment.

The schedule reveals the acreage of the property and that the garden allotment 143 was then occupied by a Mr. C. Athow.

There were further transactions in 1938 as David Scott who lives next to Beck House at 84, Chapel Road , informed us that from documents he holds in 1938 King V1 and Sir James Ulick Francis Canning Alexander Keeper of the H.H, Privy Purse and Coutts &Co. sold his  property at No. 84 to Mrs Isherwood.

It included approximately 6.5 acres House, Garden, Buildings and also a garden allotment. At that time in 1938 David’s property was a shop that had operated in the village for many years and in 1938 was a grocery store being run by Leonard Rice. So Mrs. Isherwood had increased her holdings even further.

At some later point Mrs. Isherwood rented out the land immediately next door to the main House where the old farm Buildings had stood and  the Red Pumps Garage had been established.
The next significant date for this property is 1962 when major changes took place. A  Conveyance of 1962 describes the sale to Reuben Mark Shanks of  the land next door to The Sheiling  with the Red Pumps garage.

MEMORANDUM   BY A CONVEYANCE  dated the 31st day of May 1962 and made between the  within named May Barbara Joyce Isherwood of the one part and Reuben Mark Shanks of the other part for the consideration therein mentioned  ALL THAT piece of land situate at Dersingham in the County of Norfolk with the petrol Filling Station and other building thereon known as The Red Pumps Filling Station and for the purposes identification only more particularly delineated of the plan annexed thereto and thereon coloured red was conveyed to the said Reuben Mark Shanks for an estate in fee simple subject to the rights and easements and restrictive covenant therein more particularly referred to and this Conveyance was (inter alia) acknowledged to be produced.

Mrs. Isherwood in the same year sold the large area of land which now houses King’s Croft Estate as this memorandum attached to the 1938 Conveyance illustrates.

By a Conveyance date the 16th day of January 1962 and made between the within names May Barbara Joyce Isherwood of the one part and Arthur Daniel Jameson of the other part ALL THAT piece of land containing 4.5 acres or thereabouts forming part of the within mentioned property was conveyed unto the said Arthur Daniel Jameson in fee simple and his right to production and deliveries of copies of the within written Conveyance was duly acknowledged.

In a third transaction that same year Mrs. Isherwood sold the shop at 84 Chapel Road  to Peatling and Cawdron.

The aerial photo dated 1965 shows clearly The Sheiling, Red Pumps Garage and the shop at number 84. It is easy to see here the evidence of the old Blackheath Lodge Farm buildings.
It was in 1973 that Mrs. Isherwood  had her husband’s name included on the Deeds for The Sheiling as joint owner:

In consideration of her natural love and affection for her said Husband the Donor as beneficial owner hereby conveys unto the Transferees  ALL THAT messuage or dwelling house known as “The Shieling “aforesaid situate in the parish of Dersingham in the County of Norfolk. with the garden outbuildings and land adjoining thereto forming parts of the Ordnance Survey Numbers 161 and 141 on the Ordnance Survey Map (2nd Edition 1905) and which for the purposes of identification only more particularly delineated on the plan annexed hereto and thereon edged red  TO HOLD the same unto the Transferees in fee simple as tenants in common.

The map accompanying this conveyance illustrates the new smaller footprint of the house and garden is that which we know now.
The area 161 is now a housing estate and 143 is now covered by a house and bungalow.

Robert Isherwood died on July 3rd 1975. May continued to live at The Sheiling for a while but eventually moved to Cromer where she died in 1986.

I remember the house during this period. The entrance to the property was then much nearer to Mecklenburg House. 

On the curving wall that lead to the large entrance gates there was still a long wooden plaque (seen below) bearing the old name Blackheath Lodge.   
I also visited Mrs. Isherwood in her large flat just off the front in Cromer and enjoyed a cup of tea with her.

Ion and Sue Trewin  2001-2012
In 2001 the property changed hands once more when Ion and Sue Trewin moved in. The villagers looked on as major changes took place. The entrance gates near to Mecklenburg House were taken down and the old carstone wall was altered to continue parallel to the road. A new entrance was constructed nearer to the house where it is found today.  Moreover the Trewins decided to rename their home Beck House  to bear witness to its close association to Captain Frank Beck. The villagers were kept guessing for a while about the long building being constructed in the garden.  It was a swimming pool which the Trewins once opened up for a sponsored charity swim to raise funds for Tapping House.

Ion Courtney Gill Trewin was a well known journalist who then turned successfully to publishing. 

Ion was born on 13th July 1943 in Highgate, London. He was educated at Highgate School but did not go on to university  preferring to follow his parents into journalism instead. His first job being with the Independent and South Devon Times based in Plymouth. He married Sue in 1965.

He became Literary editor of The Times, and then moved into Publishing becoming Senior Editor with Hodder and Stoughton,  publishing  Director of Weidenfeld and Nicholson, and later a member of the Literature Advisory Panel of the Arts Council of Great Britain. He commissioned and edited Thomas Kenneally’s “Schindler’s Ark” and from 2006 he took the helm of the Booker Prize. He also edited the best-selling Alan Clarke Diaries and wrote an acclaimed biography of Alan Clarke. He and Sue both became closely involved in the activities of the village and surrounding area. They volunteered at Tapping House, were Friends of St. Nicholas Church and raised funds for Park House among many other activities. They remained at Beck House until 2012 when they moved to Snettisham. However, Ion kept in touch with Dersingham as he wrote several article for Village Voice detailing his efforts to restore and improve a pond, well a small lake really, in his new premises. (They can be read in numbers 76-83).

It was a sad day for the village when his death was announced on April 8th 2015.   Obituaries were carried in the National Press, The Guardian, The Scotsman among others.  He was described as  “calm, courteous, and avuncular”.  When he was once asked about his recreations he replied, “indulging grandchildren, gardening, watching cricket, gossip.”

Five oak Trees were planted in Reffley Wood to his memory and a small plaque still pays tribute to his name.

Tributes from Bob Tipling and Nigel Sisson can be read in Village Voice No. 94. For those interested in learning more about this remarkable man all the obituaries can be found online.

2012 – Present Day
We are very grateful to the present owner of Beck House Mr. Robin Hughes for sharing with us the several documents he holds which have provided much historical detail not only of his property but also of others in the vicinity.