It is remarkable to think that 120 years after they were written, an unknown cache of letters could still be discovered, written by senior members of Scott and Shackleton's first trailblazing 1901 expedition to the Antarctic, a landmark in British Antarctic exploration history.
The collection has lain long forgotten, in a Cornish Edwardian house built by descendants of the Waymouth family, to whom the letters were written.
Mr & Mrs. Frederick Waymouth and their family lived in Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand, in their grand home 'Karewa' now known as 'Mona Vale,' an important historic homestead. Mr Waymouth, a successful businessman, was the managing director of Canterbury Frozen Meats, and with his wife Alice, were prominent members of Christchurch society.
The 'Discovery' docked in Lyttelton, the port for Christchurch, on 29th November 1901.
The Waymouth family entertained members of the expedition in their beautiful home 'Karewa' and also provisioned them with supplies. On December 21st, after a three-week stay in New Zealand, the 'Discovery' set sail and headed south for Antarctica. The correspondence that followed their visit is a testament of affection towards Alice Waymouth, and the warmth and hospitality she showed them is gratefully reflected back in the light-hearted conversational nature of these letters even when discussing the hardships of extreme cold and being locked long-term within the ice pack.
Never before-seen artifacts from the great, heroic era of early polar exploration are now so extraordinarily rare, it is incredible that these letters have been discovered only now, and in Cornwall, on the other side of the world from where they originated, and Lay's Auctioneers are thrilled to be handling the sale of this unique collection in our March 7th Rare Books & Works on Paper sale.