The Estonian house of a famous Antarctic explorer.

Episode: 11. Site Number: 054. Date Posted: 8 June 1996. Location: Pilguse, Estonia. Type: Building.

The family estates of Fabian von Bellingshausen (1778-1852), the Russian Navy captain who circumnavigated the world at high southern latitudes between December 1819 and February 1821, are at Pilguse, on the southwest coast of the Baltic island of Saaremaa in Estonia. Ian Stone, of the University of Kent at Canterbury, reported visiting this site in the Polar Record (v29, no168, January 1993, p61). Von Bellingshausen was born close by at Lahetaguse (Osel in Russia is given in some sources) where there is a 'plaque' erected in his memory. The accompanying photographic illustration shows a fairly modern looking two-story, gable-roofed dwelling of comfortable though not extravagent scale. Mr Stone notes that "the house is in a remarkable state of preservation, having been maintained by successive governments of Estonia as a mental hospital." The photograph of the plaque shows what appears to be a smooth-faced (though irregularly outlined) granite marker with carved lettering in both Estonian (?) and Russian.
      Von Bellingshausen was the first, since Cook, to cross the Antarctic Circle, doing so on January 26, 1820. A little over a year later he came upon Nat Palmer, the subject of the next episode.
      The only English edition of von Bellingshausen's 1831 two volume + atlas account of his Antarctic voyages is the highly sought after 1945 Hakluyt Society issue edited by Frank Debenham.
      Additional Source: John Stewart, Antarctica-An Encyclopedia.