In the same building as Gilbert White’s House is the Oates Collection – a focus on the lives and adventures of two members of the Oates Family, both pioneers and explorers of the natural world. Captain Lawrence Oates (1880-1912) is best remembered as the brave Antarctic hero who was chosen to be part of Scott’s team to undertake the epic journey of discovery to the South Pole 1911-12. The scientific expedition became, to an extent, a race for the pole when the explorers learnt of the presence of the Norwegian team led by Amundsen. Scott’s team suffered inadequate food supplies, severe weather conditions and failing health, so Oates sacrificed his life in the hope of saving his comrades, leaving the tent in a terrible blizzard with the famous last words “I am just going outside and may be some time”. His body has never been found. Frank Oates (1840-1875), uncle of Captain Lawrence Oates, is the third of the explorers of the natural world commemorated at Selborne. Like other members of the Oates family, Frank liked a challenge. In 1873 Oates set off on a major expedition to explore the unknown territory north of the Zambesi River. During this trip he recorded and collected previously unknown species of trees and wildlife in Matabeleland. His name – and importance to science – is commemorated in the scientific name given to these various species, of oatesii. On 31st December, 1874, he reached the Victoria Falls, probably the first European to see them since David Livingstone. It was, he recorded in his diary, “a day never to be forgotten”. On the journey home, he fell ill and died of fever on 5th February 1874. Frank Oates’ book Matabele Land and the Victoria Falls; A Naturalist’s Wanderings in the Interior of South Africa was published in 1881.
FERN-OWL Telephone: email: Captain Lawrence Oates