In 1954 Gilbert White’s former home, The Wakes, came up for sale but a public appeal to secure the house did not raise sufficient funds until Robert Washington Oates came forward. Robert Washington Oates was an antiquarian book lover and dealer and admirer of White’s work. A relation of the Antarctic explorer Captain Lawrence Oates and Victorian explorer Frank Oates, he was, at that time, seeking a suitable home for his family memorabilia, archives and library. He donated substantial funds, enabling the property to be secured and two trusts were created to run the house as a museum and library in memory of Gilbert White and the Oates family. These trusts were combined in 1994. The unifying theme remains ‘Exploring the Natural World’.