New owner for historic lighthouse once the home of Sir Peter Scott

AN historic Fenland lighthouse which was once home to conservationist and painter Sir Peter Scott has been sold.

Commander David Joel has lived in Sutton Bridge’s East Lighthouse since 1985 and saved it from the brink of destruction.

But he decided to sell the tranquil building after ruthless winter weather hammered away at the lighthouse’s exterior and removed large chunks of rendering.

He said: “For 25 years I have loved living here so I am really going to miss it but the time was right for me to sell.

“As soon as I put this place up for sale there was huge interest and the estate agent had to print off 150 brochures.


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“I managed to whittle down the number of people interested to 28 by casting off those who had to wait for the sale of their home.

“I then invited the interested parties to view the lighthouse. The majority of them loved it but some found it more than they bargained for.

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“Others were surprised that there aren’t any en suite bathrooms in the lighthouse which is ridiculous given its size.”

The commander said the new owner, Douglas Hilton, was very keen to purchase the lighthouse, which stands at the mouth of River Nene looking out on to the bleak landscape of the Wash.

“He came back to me very quickly after seeing it and said he wanted to buy it and three weeks later the deal was done,” he continued.

“Douglas already has two other nature reserves and is moving into the lighthouse at the weekend.

“I am now clearing up 25 years-worth of stuff which has been really difficult and I am sad to be going.”

He added: “There are about 400 geese right by the lighthouse and it feels like they know I am going and want to say goodbye.”

Sir Peter Scott – son of Scott of the Antarctic and founder of numerous wildlife conservation societies – lived in the lighthouse from 1933 to 1939.

During his time at the lighthouse he painted dramatic oil paintings of the wildfowl, which flocked to the remote Lincolnshire outpost.

He left the lighthouse for duty with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve where he became a lieutenant commander, captaining small ships and gunboats and was decorated twice for bravery.

Similarly, Cdr Joel spent his career at sea as head of seven Royal Navy ships.

When Cdr Joel bought the light-house, which was occupied by the army during the war, it had been derelict for years after Anglian Water boarded it up in the 1970s when its last tenant left.

All the windows were smashed and its Aga broken by vandals but gradually the commander brought the house back to life, decorated with his own paintings together with some by Scott.

He spent 10 days in 2006 painting the exterior of the lighthouse with a four-inch brush.

Cdr Joel, who shared his time between his home in Hampshire and the East Anglian coast, then opened the lighthouse to the public in 2008 and around 2,200 visitors went along in 10 days.

A wartime novella loosely based on former owner Sir Peter and the lighthouse was also brought back to life by national radio earlier this year.

Paul Gallico’s The Snow Goose was dramatised for BBC Radio 4 after coming top of a neglected classics poll and was broadcast on May 23.

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