A 150-year-old photograph of a girl ,who later found love and happiness in Falmouth is set to fetch more than £10,000 at an auction in America later this month.

The fourteen inches by eleven inches picture of Kate Keown is particularly valuable because it was taken – in or around 1867-1868 when Plymouth soldier’s daughter Miss Keown was ten or eleven- by trail-blazing Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, now acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest female photographers,possibly the greatest.

The picture was owned and treasured until his death by Oscar-winning Hollywood superstar, Charlton Heston, and it is among more than three hundred of Mr Heston’s possessions ,which are expected to sell for between £350,000 and £500,000 at Bonhams in Los Angeles on March 22.

Kate Keown’s links with Falmouth are not mentioned in the auction catalogue,but they are confirmed in the 1891,1901 and 1911 Censuses when she was living in Falmouth.

In 1884,Kate Keown married Penryn-born Falmouth-based granite de aler, Bernard Augustin Freeman,who was three years younger than Kate .

Mr Freeman was born in 1860. Kate was born in 1857.

In 1891, Kate and Bernard Freeman were living at Woodhouse Terrace, Falmouth,where they employed two live-in servants : Stithians-born cook,Mary Penalna and Falmouth-born servant, Mary Johns.

Sometime between 1891 and 1901, the Freemans moved to Spotfield House,Melville Road,Falmouth,before they moved again, sometime between 1901 and 1911,to Beach View,Gyllyngvase,Falmouth.

Kate was sixty five when she died at Rosemary, Falmouth,on August 23,1922. In her will she left £460 eighteen shillings and eightpence (or £460.93 in modern money).That might not sound a lot now,but in the early 1920s it was possible to buy a decent house for around £500.

Kate’s husband,Bernard Freeman,was 75 when he died at Tresilian,Wood Lane,Falmouth,on January 21,1936.In his will,he left £2,615 fourteen shillings and tuppence,or £2,615.71p in modern money . In 1936, the average British house cost £550. 

In her book,Julia Margaret Cameron’s Women, author Sylvia Wolf,says : “Kate Keown appears frequently in Cameron’s photographs.Cameron called upon numerous children to pose for her camera, In some instances,Cameron posed the children as themselves,but she more often used them to embody childhood innocence.The Keown sisters were among the children, who donned gowns or angel wings to play the part of Cupid or the infant Christ in Cameron’s photographs.”

This is not the first time an 1860s photograph of Kate Keown by Julia Margaret Cameron has come up for sale.

At Sotheby’s in London on May 10,2001,another Cameron photograph of Kate Keown was expected to sell for between £40,000 and £60,000,but,in the end,it sold for........£174,000 and set a new world auction record for a Cameron photograph. 

Charlton Heston – real name : John Charles Carter- was a Hollywood superstar in the 1950s and 1960s and appeared in 100 films, including the 1956 epic,The Ten Commandments.in which he portrayed Moses; and the 1959 movie,Ben-Hur for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor.

Mr Heston was eighty four when he died in 2008.