It was a ripper of a sale, mate

THE son of an Aussie Earl placed in charge of his Suffolk estate described his time there as "the best year of my life" as he contemplated his return Down Under.

THE son of an Aussie Earl placed in charge of his Suffolk estate described his time there as "the best year of my life" as he contemplated his return Down Under.

The Hon Henham Rous, son of the Earl of Stradbroke, spoke of the strong attachment he had formed with the area as bargain hunters descended on his father's Henham Estate, near Southwold, at the weekend, for a "yard sale" featuring items from it.

The auction, held on Saturdaymarks the end of an era for the 4,200 acre estate, which is being sold by the Aussie Earl, who is known for his anti-pomp style and "Call me Keith" informality.

He is ending his family's 500-year association with the area, and has offered the £12.5 million estate for sale as a single lot, or as 27 separate lots.

Among the items to go under the hammer at the Saturday sale was a distinctive estate van, decorated in Australian colours, and with the estate's motto "We fight like lions and breed like rabbits" displayed on the side.

It fetched over £4,000, although a redundant fire engine painted in the green and gold Australian colours went to a scrap merchant for a bargain £100.

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In all, it was thought the auction had raised in excess of the £10,000 to £15,000 auctioneer's estimate.

Mr Rous described it as "a phenomenal sale".

"I have been delighted at some of the prices it is going for, and at the same time, there are people shrewdly getting bargains for £5," he said.

The auction, organised by Bury St Edmunds-based auctioneer Peter Crichton, featured building materials, farm equipment, and other items from the estate, and hundreds turned up to offer bids.

Many sale prices exceeded expectations, although there were bargains to be had.

20-year-old Henham Rous has spent his gap year in England running the estate for his father, but he must return on February 23 to take up his place at the Monash University in Melbourne, where he will be studying business systems.

"Ideally we would be finished now, but in essence we think another 12 months will see everything sold," he said.

"If I could, I would quite gladly stay on for another year," he said. However, he had already deferred for a year, and would now have to take up his place, he explained.

He described his time on the estate as "an incredible year".

"It has been a real steep learning curve, but an absolutely fabulous one to take," he said.

"Some of my friends are putting bets on I'll be back in six months because I've loved it so much."

But although he would definitely come back in the future, he expected his prospects would be broader in Australia.

"I have got to put myself through university. I have got to work. I have got to make my own way in life," he said.

"It has been very difficult because I have had the best year of my life."

In terms of the sale of the estate lands and property, they were "quietly confident about the way things are going", he said.

"We expect to have some of the land sold off in March once a few issues are sorted out," he said. "We have got buyers for just about every lot."

Because it was such a large estate, it was a "complicated sale", he said.

However, it is uncertain now whether the Aussie Earl himself will be able to make it over to England in September of this year as previously planned.

The Earl is currently recovering at his Australian home after an accident on his sheep and cattle ranch in Victoria. He was thrown against an electric fence and suffered what he himself described as "a mini-heart attack".

"Because of dad's health that could affect his ability to come over here and it's always depended on what's going on in Australia," said his son.







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