Aussie Earl's estate up for sale

EXCLUSIVEBy David LennardONE of East Anglia's most impressive country estates, owned by a colourful Australian earl, has been put up for sale.The sixth Earl of Stradbroke has put Henham Estate, between Halesworth and Southwold, on the market just days after celebrating the 20th anniversary of inheriting the title.

EXCLUSIVE

By David Lennard

ONE of East Anglia's most impressive country estates, owned by a colourful Australian earl, has been put up for sale.

The sixth Earl of Stradbroke has put Henham Estate, between Halesworth and Southwold, on the market just days after celebrating the 20th anniversary of inheriting the title.


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The Earl, who likes to be called Keith, has spent much of his time recently at his ranch in south-western Victoria in Australia.

His son, 19-year-old Henham Rous, who was named after the estate, has been managing his father's affairs in Suffolk.

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But the family have encountered controversy over their running of the estate, particularly after the annual East Suffolk Tractor Run and the Henham Steam Rally were forced to move to new venues after failing to reach agreement over payments to use the Earl's land.

Now the Earl has put the entire 4,214-acre site up for sale - with one estate agent estimating it could be worth more than £12 million.

Mr Rous declined to be interviewed yesterday, but confirmed: “I cannot comment on the sale at the moment other than to say we are on the market.”

Throughout the past 20 years the Earl of Stradbroke has been determined the Henham Estate should become self-sufficient and not prove a drain on his Australian resources.

Various properties, including a number of farms, have been put up for sale, but this is the first time the entire estate has been put on the market.

The sale is being handled by Knight Frank of London, which is offering the estate as a single lot or as 27 separate lots.

A spokeswoman for the real estate agents said the brochure for the sale was still being prepared and it hoped to have more information available in a few days.

Guy Jenkinson, of Bidwells estate agents in Ipswich, said he believed the estate was worth in excess of £12m.

“It's a beautiful estate and the farmland is good. There is plenty of wooded area and it's actually quite a delight,” he added.

“The parkland is very, very unspoilt and there is plenty of scope for improvement in relation to the residential aspect.

“It could make a fantastic estate for somebody, but it's very large and it wouldn't surprise me if it went in lots.”

The new owners will be given a chance to recreate the vision of 18th Century landscape designer Sir Humphrey Repton as the sale includes planning consent to build a principal house in what is described as “classic Repton parkland”.

Henham Hall was demolished in 1953 and the Earl's proposals for a replacement in the past have included an Australian-style ranch and a replica of the Sydney Opera House.

His ideas did not find favour with planning officers or various historic and preservation bodies, but the latest proposal for a classic English country house has been warmly received.

The sale also includes the grade II listed converted house and stables, two secondary houses, a farmhouse and 10 further cottages along with other farm buildings.

There are 489 hectares of arable land, park and grassland farmed under farm business tenancy agreements, tenanted farms and woodland. Henham Estate also includes 873 acres with sporting and shooting rights.

Lady Penelope Gilbey, the daughter of the fourth Earl of Stradbroke, who now lives in nearby Wangford, said she was shocked the estate was up for sale, but hoped it would be sold as one complete lot.

“It could benefit the estate if another family can move in and live there, but it would be terribly sad if it was split up into tiny pieces. The estate includes some of the finest parkland in Suffolk,” she added.

The Rous family, or De Reus as they were then called, originally came to England from Normandy in 960AD and the family have been living at Henham since the 16th Century.

If the Rous family move out after the sale, it will break a tradition going back more than 500 years.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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