This is the story of Stewart Gore-Browne, an English gentleman who builds an English-style estate in Northern Rhodesia or what is now Zambia. He found a beautiful lake called Shwia Ngandu in the local Bemba language which means “Lake of Royal Crocodiles.” He discovered it a few years before the First World War while working on the border survey team for the British Army. After serving in the Great Ward, he got a grant from the Colonial Office of the 35,000 acres surrounding the lake.
He was in love with his aunt Ethel Locke-King who was about 20 years his senior and married to a descendant of John Locke. She had no children of her own. He gave hints that he may have wanted more than a family relationship with her, which she turned down. Weird. He had only one other love and that was Lorna Bosworth Smith with whom he didn’t have the courage to propose to until it was too late and she married another. She and her husband died young but had two children. One of the orphans, also named Lorna for her mother, he later married. She was 19, he was 43. Strange. She may have suspected his relationship with her mother. They had two daughters at his Africa house but later divorced.
The estate never made money, except during the war years of WWII. He tried to produce oils from geraniums, limes, orange blossom and other plants. But this was unpredictable from year to year and he eventually gave up when his lime trees contracted a virus. The estate was kept running by steady checks from his aunt Ethel and later by his inheritance from her. He wrote her every week and always pleaded with her to come to Shwia Ngandu. She eventually visited once in her eighties (in 1948).
Gore-Browne saw a lot of change in his lifetime in the African bush. When he first settled there it took many days of overland travel through jungle trails and across water in canoes to get there. Eventually the great North Road came close by the estate. Once in the early days of aviation a plane with a noble couple onboard made and emergency landing by the House. It was the only clearing the pilot could find. They were surprised to find a full-blown English manner so far out in the bush with full-course meals, fine wine, a large library with a gramophone and comfortable beds. He later had a small air strip.
He also built a hospital for the local tribes and his niece was the doctor.
In later life, he got into politics and eventually came to support independence for Zambia and enfranchisement for the blacks, though he regularly beat his servants for not doing their jobs. It was the only way he could get them to do what he was paying them for.