Explorer's historic home up for sale

By Benedict O'ConnorTHE historic childhood home of a legendary Antarctic explorer has been put up for sale for from more than £3million.Captain Lawrence Oates entered the history books for the immortal phrase, "I am just going outside and may be sometime", uttered before he walked to his death in a blizzard, hoping to save his comrades on Scott's disastrous South Pole expedition in 1912.

By Benedict O'Connor

THE historic childhood home of a legendary Antarctic explorer has been put up for sale for from more than £3million.

Captain Lawrence Oates entered the history books for the immortal phrase, "I am just going outside and may be sometime", uttered before he walked to his death in a blizzard, hoping to save his comrades on Scott's disastrous South Pole expedition in 1912.

Capt Oates, with this simple phrase, later found recorded in Scott's diary, performed one of the most famous acts of gallantry in the history of mankind.


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He had become a burden on his colleagues during Scott's Antarctic expedition after falling into a physical condition from which recovery was impossible.

Capt Oates' condition caused such delays to the party that it probably made the difference between life and death to them. Eventually, he recognised the need to sacrifice himself to give the others a chance of survival and left the tent to die in the snow.

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His death in the wilds of Antartica was a far cry from where Capt Oates began life in the genteel surroundings of Gestingthorpe Hall, near Sudbury.

The 17th century mansion, overlooking the village cricket pitch and set in its own parkland and paddocks, has changed little since he was born in 1880.

Here, upon the death of his father, Capt Oates become Lord of the Manor at the age of 16 and his exploits are remembered in the neighbouring church of St Mary, where the sixth bell hanging in the belfry was cast to commemorate his successful return from the Boer War.

Later, in 1913, his heroism was also marked in the church on a brass memorial plaque unveiled by General Allenby, which reads: "When all were beset by hardship, he being gravely injured went out into the blizzard to die in the hope that by doing so he might enable his comrades to reach safety. This tablet is placed herein affectionate remembrance by his brother officers."

Capt Oates' regiment, the Inniskilling Dragoons have held annual memorial services at the church since then and it was said his mother dutifully polished the plaque commemorating her son until her dying day.

The Oates family remained until the 1940s and the 10-bedroom grade-II listed hall has now been put up for through estate agents FPD Savills at a guide price of £3.25m.

Described as "the ultimate village house", it was once called Over Hall and is believed to date from at least the 17th century, from which period many features remain.

However, it has been extensively remodelled over the centuries, particularly during the early 18th century when a classical Georgian red brick façade was added, upon which is set the Oates family coat of arms.

The property also boasts a tennis court, stable block and outbuildings, a restored Victorian walled garden with about 1,000 roses, a lake and a moat.

Should a sympathetic buyer require it, the house is, appropriately, just 30 miles from the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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