Aussie Earl's

By David LennardTHE Aussie Earl of Stradbroke is planning a final “closing down sale” as he prepares to end his family's historic link with an East Anglian estate.

By David Lennard

THE Aussie Earl of Stradbroke is planning a final “closing down sale” as he prepares to end his family's historic link with an East Anglian estate.

For almost 500 years the Rous family have owned the Henham Estate, between Halesworth and Southwold, but that will come to an end next year.

The 66-year-old 6th Earl of Stradbroke, who prefers to be known as Keith Rous, put the 4,219-acre property up for sale earlier this year with an asking price of £12million.

There has been plenty of interest in the sale - the largest area of land to come on the market in England for more than 1- years - and offers have been received for all but one of the 27 lots.

Henham Rouse, the Earl's 19-year-old son, who has come over from Australia to handle the sale, said: “We have bids for every single lot except the stables - and we're hopeful we'll have a bid for them by Christmas.”

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It is still not certain if the estate will be sold as one single lot or will be split up for the first time since 1544 when the Rous family moved in.

Speaking yesterday from his home in Australia, the Earl said there was a “good chance” most of the lots would be sold off by the end of March next year.

To help any new owners settle in to the estate, the Earl is planning to hold an unreserved auction and closing down sale.

“A decision has been made to sell all the farm tractors, equipment, scaffolding, building materials and antique gates currently in storage. There will be a closing down sale that we hope to hold just before or just after Christmas,” he said.

One unusual item that will be coming under the auctioneer's hammer is the estate's Mercedes van, which has been painted in the Australian national colours and the Stradbroke coat of arms.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk