Plans in place to demolish historic Winscombe home where ‘Jean Simmons was taught ballet’

The Winscombe estate dates back to the Georgian era

The Winscombe estate dates back to the Georgian era - Credit: Jane Currell

A planning application to demolish a long-standing Winscombe landmark is in the works and could be approved.

Violet Keel, known as Mabel.

Violet Keel, known as Mabel. - Credit: Jane Currell

Max House Farm was purchased at auction in July 2018 with the intention of pulling down the current structure and replacing it with a modern dwelling.

The Georgian manor house was previously owned by Edmund and Violet Keel before the property was inherited by Robin Keel.

Robin's niece, Jane Curell, spent many of her younger years on the farm and said she was sad to see that the current plans seemed to be going ahead.

She said: "It was a fantastic place for a child to grow up in. My grandparents were very laid back, and it was very much like 'The Durrells' in that it was not unusual to find calves in the passage and chickens sitting on the kitchen table."

Max House Farm circa 1960s

Max House Farm circa 1960s - Credit: Jane Currell

"I just don't think people know too much about the plans. This place has so much history.

"I was told stories about how Jean Simmons was taught ballet in one of the giant living rooms during the war as she was evacuated to Winscombe."

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All this history looks set to be lost, though, with the current planning application requesting a 'replacement dwelling and coach house' at Max House Farm to 'ensure the site can continue as a residential location'.

The application does acknowledge the significance of Manor House Farm but notes that it is in an 'extremely dilapidated state' and 'beyond a state of repair that would warrant the scheme to be financially viable'.

Edmund Keel

Edmund Keel - Credit: Jane Currell

As of now, the property lays within the shadows - metaphorically and physically.

Surrounded by trees, it stands lifeless, save for the graffiti markings sprawled across the walls of what was once a loving home.

Ward Councillor Ann Harley said: "The property has been derelict for a very long time. I can confirm it is not a listed building.

"The application is supported by a lot of information about the state of the house, and the proposal to demolish has not been made without an investigation into its condition."

For more information on the application, visit