Historic estate sale could be called off
By Jenni DixonA FAMILY are reconsidering severing their 500-year links with Suffolk despite receiving offers for their £12m estate.The 4,219-acre Henham estate near Southwold was put on the market last year with by the sixth Earl of Stradbroke, Keith Rous.
By Jenni Dixon
A FAMILY are reconsidering severing their 500-year links with Suffolk despite receiving offers for their £12m estate.
The 4,219-acre Henham estate near Southwold was put on the market last year with by the sixth Earl of Stradbroke, Keith Rous.
The father-of-15 decided to end the family's association with north Suffolk in favour of his sheep and cattle farm in Australia, 20 years after he inherited his title.
Now, one of his eight sons, estate manager Hektor Rous, said he would like to keep the estate in the family and make it financially viable as a tourist attraction - or even as an outdoor music festival venue for a homecoming concert for Lowestoft rock band The Darkness.
“We've been here for 500 years and it's hard to let go. We've had some fantastic offers and a lot of interest, but it makes you think about the estate's potential more than ever before,” he added.
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“We're only a few minutes from Southwold where a lot of people visit to get away from cities.”
The 26-year-old came to north Suffolk seven months ago on his father's wishes and said he has fallen in love with the place.
He revealed his father - who has offered him a cash incentive to marry an English girl and have lots of children - had been thinking about turning the estate into a nudist colony, but he did not want to be controversial.
“We do have the locals wishes at heart,” said Mr Rous, who added one of his first aims was to bring the Henham Steam Rally back to the estate, albeit for a fee.
“Long term, I'd like to build apartments, a hotel, restaurants, function rooms and still leave it open for the people of Suffolk to enjoy, but I will have to try and talk dad around as it's costing us an absolute fortune to stay.”
Philip Hayes, chairman of Wangford with Henham Parish Council, said he was pleased if it meant the estate was used more than it has been.
“I'm only surprised it hasn't been used for music festivals before. I would rather have rock festivals than houses,” he added. “But that's my personal opinion and I'm sure other people in the village will not like it.
“I would like to see it remain with the Rous family as we know who they are as opposed to totally new people and on the whole I have been quite impressed with Hektor Rous' attitude.”
A spokesman for Waveney District Council said the family could get in touch with planning officers to talk about any proposals they had.
Claire Duthie, negotiator with Knight Frank, the London-based agents handling the Henham Estate sale, said it had not been told to take the land off the market.
She added the whole estate or its 27 separate plots were still available and negotiations were taking place with interested parties.