The renowned wanderer Francis Albert Sinatra observed that while it’s nice to go travelling, it’s so much nicer to come home.
Not everyone agrees – either because their homes aren’t up to much, or because they love to explore.
Sir Ernest Shackleton was definitely in the latter camp.
The Irish-born adventurer led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, including the fearless two-year Nimrod expedition, which came close to being the first to reach the South Pole. Upon his return in 1909, he was knighted for his efforts.
Shackleton wrote about the Nimrod expedition in Heart Of The Antarctic, penned back home in London’s leafy Putney.
That gorgeous home, styled as a country house despite being in the capital’s Zone 2, is now available for £9.25m – and it couldn’t be further from a polar wasteland: the garden even has giant palm trees.
The house is also huge enough to accommodate a man used to wandering empty continents. Set on a sizeable plot in an enclave in the middle of Putney Heath, it has nine bedrooms and five reception rooms among 8,584sq ft of accommodation running over four floors.
You needn’t be a polar explorer to find your way around, but a floorplan may come in handy. Through the front entrance a large hall runs laterally along the spine of the building, allowing for views to front and rear, with beautiful dark wood doorways tempting you beyond.
At the front is a massive (we’re talking 33ft x 22ft) formal double reception room, including huge bay window; beyond that is the study, because Antarctic memoirs aren’t written at kitchen tables.
To the ground-floor rear – and thus enjoying the views over the 111ft garden – is a 27ft x 23ft kitchen/breakfast room giving views onto a conservatory and adjacent wood-floored reception room, which would make a perfect dining room; across a small lobby is a family room.
The garden is accessible from the conservatory and family room, but also from the lower-ground floor, via a patio outside, yet another whopping 21ft reception room, previously used as a billiards room.
The lower ground has a wine cellar, kitchen, utility and a bedroom, the latter again giving onto the garden.
Up on the first floor, the principal bedroom has an attached dressing room, en suite and balcony terrace, overlooking the garden and beyond to Putney Heath (this home is, after all, on Heathview Gardens). Also on this floor are another four bedrooms, one with en suite, while the top floor adds another three beds plus bathroom.
At the end of the impressively landscaped garden is a swimming pool, accompanied by a brick-built pool house including changing room, kitchen-diner and 17ft reception room – perfect, perhaps, for kids to have their first adventurous overnight camp away from the house.
The Shackletons moved into Heathview Gardens in 1911, when Ernest’s wife Emily was expecting their third child, Edward (later a Labour Cabinet member and leader of the Lords).
But the wanderlust ran deep, and Shackleton senior never seemed as happy as when he was breaking new ground. In 1914 he set off on what became known as the Endurance expedition, named after the ship that was crushed by pack ice, forcing the crew into lifeboats to sail 800 perilous miles to safety.
Shackleton died in 1922 aged just 47, in remote South Georgia en route to yet another expedition. Knowing where his heart lay, his wife asked for him to be buried there.
Shackleton was a brilliant man, voted 11th Greatest Briton in the BBC’s 2002 poll, but also unusual, and driven by that desire for fresh horizons.
Most mortals are more Team Sinatra, glad to come home – and whether you’ve been to the pole or just to the pub, there can be few finer places to return to than this oasis of palm trees on Putney Heath.
Check out Heathview Gardens, on sale for £9.25m, via Savills
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