In 1774, Sir John and his wife moved into Darsham Old Hall when Henham Hall burnt down, throwing out his brother, who at the time was the vicar of Darsham. Sons John Edward Cornwallis Rous and Henry Rous were born whilst living at the Old Hall in 1794 & 1795.
John Edward Cornwallis Rous, 2nd Earl of Stradbroke, pursued an active life as a peer, politician, Lord Lieutenant and Vice Admiral of Suffolk.
Henry Rous, his younger brother, joined the Navy, rose to the rank of Admiral and is credited with the discovery and naming in Australia of Stradbroke Island in honour of his father. He also renamed the town, Limestone to Ipswich after his friend the Earl of Ipswich. In 1846 he was appointed 4th Naval Lord.
Following the loss of his ship’s rudder, Sir Henry managed to get his ship, HMS Pique, back to England in what was described by many as one of the greatest pieces of naval prowess of the time. Unfortunately the Navy didn’t agree and he was court martialed.
Sir Henry’s love of horses stemmed from the fact that his father, the 1st of Earl of Stradbroke ran a stud farm and one of his horses, Tigris, won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 1815.
The finish of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket by Samuel Henry Alken (1810–1894)
It was this love of horses that took Sir Henry to Newmarket where he was appointed to the role of Chief Steward of the Jockey Club. Whilst here he cemented his position as the father of modern day horse-racing when he wrote ‘The Laws and Practice of Horse Racing’, which contains the rules of age-handicapping that are still used today. His legacy and their reverence for him is in much evidence today at Newmarket’s Jockey Club. The Rous Memorial Stakes run at Ascot was named in his honour.
What is now the A12 was opened in 1785 following an act of Parliament that allowed a turnpike road between Ipswich & Yarmouth to be developed by Sir John Rous of Henham & Darsham Old Hall. The toll booths at Darsham collected 3 pence for Horses, 5 pence per score of Calves, Lambs, or Hogs, but for his majesty there was no charge.
By 1830, the network of stage coaches would deliver you to Aldgate in London in 11¾ hours. In 1859 then Darsham railway station was opened with a scheduled time from Darsham to London of 4 ¼ hours with a 3rd class ticket costing 7s 10½d. The Darsham Old Hall estate made great use of the new railway, and were the first to send milk tankers from Suffolk to London in 1860.
In 1912, the Rous family sold both the Manorial title and the Darsham Old Hall estate. The estate totalled 1315 acres, and was made up of 15 separate farms, of which the one at the Old Hall was the main home farm. The estate was bought by two brothers at auction in Halesworth for a grand total of £25,200. By this stage the Old Hall was in quite a poor state of repair and to save an argument of whom lived where, the brothers commissioned two identical houses to be built on the estate. One of these became Darsham Hall, the other is now Priory Paddocks – a nursing home in the village.
During the 20th century the Old Hall was owned by a number of farmers. In December 2010, Paul & Jude Rylott bought the Old Hall, and re-established its stud farm heritage by moving their prize winning pedigree alpaca herd to Darsham.