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Sir Peter Scott’s iconic Lincolnshire lighthouse for sale

PUBLISHED: 09:31 27 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:49 27 October 2018

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Fine and Country

A lighthouse which inspired legendary naturalist Sir Peter Scott is up for sale.

Sir Peter Scott’’s Lighthouse stands on the eastern bank where the River Nene meets The Wash on the Norfolk - Lincolnshire border.

The four-bedroom structure and its 1.7 acres of grounds are on the market for £600,000.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

King’s Lynn-based agents Fine and Country say it stands in “a marine area which is one of England’s last great wildernesses, a place where you can enjoy true tranquillity, as well as the excitement of some of England’s great wildlife spectacles”.

Sir Peter painted skeins of geese and other wildfowl while he owned the property in the 1930s. At the time, it stood on tidal marsh.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Since 2010, it has been owned by Doug and Sue Hilton, who are selling the property to move nearer to family in Wales. They admit seeing it go will be a wrench.

“It’s very much like Bilbo Baggins’s ring,” said Mr Hilton, 66. “Once you put it on you don’t want to take it off.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

“We can’t give the lighthouse the attention it needs, so we want to find someone to take it on the next stage of its journey.

“The next stage is primarily to do with trying to do something that makes it more accessible to the public.”

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

The property comes with kitchen, reception rooms, gallery, light room, studio, shower and basement. It also has planning permission for a separate visitor centre.

Property developer and environmentalist Mr Hilton said: “It’s just wonderful really, it’s incredibly peaceful.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

“You walk in there and somehow or other a cloak goes round you. At the end off the day I’ve not found a more firendly building in my life.

“Just sitting on the ground floor of that tower, it’s a crazy, quirky room. It’s circular, it’s narrower at the top than at the bottom, the doors are all different shaps and sizes but they all fit somehow.”

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Upper floors offer panoramic views of the Norfolk coastline. Great skeins of geese still fly to and fro at dawn and dusk, like the winter visitors which inspired Peter Scott to pick up his paintbrush.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Conservation’s “patron saint”

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Sir Peter Scott (1909 - 89) was the only son of the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

Before his tragic last expedition, his father famously told his mother: “Make the boy interested in natural history.”

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

Sir Peter became a wildlife artist after graduating in the history of art, at Cambridge, in 1931.

He lived at the lighthouse from 1933 - 39, painting dramatic pictures of wildfowl on the shores of The Wash.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

During the Second World War, he served as a lieutenant commander in the naval reserve, commanding small ships and gunboats.

After the war, he became a broadcaster. He commentated on the Queen’s coronation, in 1953 and presented the BBC’s first natural history programme that same year.

Sir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and CountrySir Peter Scott East Lighthouse, Sutton. Photo: Fine and Country

He co-founded the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and World Wildlife Fund. He also mounted an expedition to find the Icelandic breeding grounds of the pink-footed geese, which migrate to East Anglia in their thousands each winter.

Sir David Attenborough called him “the patron saint of conservation”.

Sir Peter Scott outside the lighthouse  Picture: AchantSir Peter Scott outside the lighthouse Picture: Achant

Historic structure

Sir Peter Scott, founder and chairman of the World Wildlife fund, pictured in 1987  Picture: ArchantSir Peter Scott, founder and chairman of the World Wildlife fund, pictured in 1987 Picture: Archant

The East bank Lighthouse, as it was priginally named, was one of a pair built in 1830 on either bank of the new cutting dug for the River Nene to flow into The Wash.

For a century or so, it was lived in by farming families who had the added duty of lighting the lamp.

Originally on tidal marshland, the writer Paul Gallico, a friend of Sir Peter Scott, described it as “Desolate, utterly lonely and made lonelier by the calls and cries of the wildfowl that make their homes in the marshlands and saltings”.

In 1933 it become home to the young artist Peter Scott, who invested the proceeds of his first exhibition into restoring it.

Scott was called up for naval duties when war broke out in 1939. By 1945 the lighthouse was almost derelict.

Worse still, the need for food had seen tidal banks pushed further into the estuary, draining the tidal pools around the lighthouse which harbored Peter Scott’s beloved wildfowl.

The artist moved on to pastures new and a career in broadcasting. The lighthouse became a holiday home and the HQ of a wildfowling club before becoming derelict again.

In 1985 it was bought by Cdr David Joel, a friend of Peter Scott, who restored the building and dug ponds where tidal pools had been.

At the end of 2010 Doug and Sue Hilton bought the lighthouse.

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