For Winnie-the-Pooh fans, the bridge over the river at the edge of the forest where Winnie the Pooh invents a new game is up there with heffalumps and honeypots and the Hundred Acre Wood.
This is where Pooh accidentally drops a pine cone one day into the water on one side of the bridge, only to catch a glimpse – to his amazement – of the apple reappearing on the other side. “And that was the start of the game called Poohsticks.”
Now the original bridge has sold for Â£ 131,625, more than double the pre-sale estimate of Â£ 40,000 to Â£ 60,000. Its new owner is Lord De La Warr, who owns the 2,000-acre Buckhurst Park estate in East Sussex, which incorporates the wood made famous in AA Milne’s children’s books.
De La Warr said he was delighted to be the successful bidder. The bridge “would occupy a prominent place on the estate near its original position,” he said.
Describing the structure as “an iconic piece of literary history in physical form,” James Rylands, the director of Summers Place Auctions who arranged the sale, said there had been interest from potential buyers in numerous countries. “But we are delighted that the bridge remains in the UK – it’s a really happy ending and we couldn’t have hoped for better.”
According to Rylands, De La Warr’s dad played Poohsticks with Christopher Robin Milne, AA Milne’s only child, which inspired the children’s books as well as his plush collection. Rylands said the bridge was âgoing homeâ.
The original wooden structure was built from oak in 1907 to transport pedestrians, horses and carts across a river in Ashdown Forest, the setting for Pooh’s stories and poems. It was replaced by a replica in 1999 after visits from thousands of people eager to recreate Christopher Robin’s famous drawing of EH Shepard leaning over the railings left it worn and rickety.
The original bridge has been dismantled and stored. It was then rebuilt and restored, and moved to Kent after a private sale.
Now, said Rylands, Winnie-the-Pooh fans could see it again, although Poohsticks games may be excluded in order to preserve the bridge for future generations.
He added: âThe attraction of Winnie-the-Pooh is the innocence of a bygone age; it’s so healthy. There is so much evil in the world, but Winnie-the-Pooh always puts a smile on your face. “
The prize obtained in the sealed offers was “a reflection of his place as a national treasure, but more importantly, he will be cared for and loved.”
In 2014 EH Shepard’s illustration of Pooh, Christopher Robin and Piglet playing Poohsticks sold at auction for over Â£ 300,000. Four years later, a Hundred Acre Wood card reached Â£ 350,000.
The first collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories was published in 1926, followed by the House at Pooh Corner two years later. Christopher Milne, who died in 2011, later claimed his father exploited his childhood.
“It almost seemed to me that my father had gotten to where he was by climbing on my childish shoulders, that he had stolen my name and left me with the empty reputation of being his son,” he wrote. .