Imperial Cleaning


There, on moonlit nights the folks of a bygone age were wont to meet at picnics and dance parties whilst a stringed band dispensed sweet music from the platform or gallery of the building. Passing over two intermediate transfers we find one under date 16 November , in favour of WP em Stephanus van Ryneveld, who had purchased the estate from J.

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Rondebosch Down the Years 1657 – 1957

Hamilton Ross, though of much earlier origin. Having a common boundary with Mariendahl from Vineyard Road to the bridge over the river in Sans Souci Road, on the south-west it reaches to Kildare Road and then shares a boundary with the Vineyard Estate. The Vineyard is a narrow strip between the river and Protea and Collington Roads. The original house has been much altered for the present-day hotel but the Andrew Barnards lived there for a time in Beyond Sans Souci and the Vineyard we come to Veld Huijzen, one of the oldest estates being first granted in When Sir John Herschel, Bt.

The name was later changed to The Grove and it is now a private hotel at the end of Grove Avenue, Claremont. The Albion Mill was situated where the mineral water factory is now making valuable use of the clear waters of the famed Albion Spring which rises there. Another water mill, derelict these many years, is in Boundary Road opposite the Brewery. This article cannot claim to be more than an introduction to a very considerable but fascinating subject and it will have achieved its aim if it has explained something of the origins and circumstances of Rondebosch topography in relation to the men who helped the natural features to form it, and has also shown where to begin further research into the estates and properties of old Rondebosch.

Clause 13 and Condition III thereof, dealing with the landed property of the Testator, are of such extraordinary interest as to be worthy of reproduction: The said residence and its gardens and grounds shall be retained for a residence for the Prime Minister for the time being of the said Federal Government of the States of South Africa to which I have referred in Clause 6 hereof, my intention being to provide a suitable official residence for the First Minister in that Government befitting the dignity of his position, and until there shall be such a Federal Government may be used as a Park for the people.

Amongst this multitude of visitors there must surely be many in whom interest in the history of this beautiful estate must have been awakened — more particularly its early and, if it may so be termed, its intermediate history. He has made a study of its history and has consented, it must be confessed, with a feeling of diffidence, to commit to paper some account, traditional and otherwise, of the estate, especially with regard to its past ownership.

It is to be regretted that many misconceptions would appear to prevail as to the various proprietors — even in quarters where one would naturally expect to meet with strictly accurate details.

They were granaries or magazines used for the storage of produce. This may have been the scene of the startling occurrences which the terse and quaintly practical old journal chronicles as follows: During the night one robbed an agriculturist of two of his sheep and another shoving open the door of the house, carried off the dog from inside. The buildings now forming the stables were then utilized as a storing house or magazine in which were deposited the tithes in kind which all owners of land were bound to deliver to the Company.

It is on record that the massive walls forming the quadrangle were at one time furnished with loop holes for the purpose of defence against attacks of the Natives. They were all originally one property, and it is a curious coincidence that they should again at the present time be reamalgamated, so to speak, to form a Government estate. He came from Eppenburen in Holland.

The writer well recollects it, some five and thirty years back, as situate in the midst of a poplar thicket since cleared away. The other graves on the spot were those of former residents on the estate and of slaves; on a few of the headstones traces of inscriptions could, with difficulty, be recognised.

The deed of grant, in freehold, is dated 21 November , and is signed by the Acting Governor — Johannes Isaac Rhenius. The grant stipulates that the proprietor is not at liberty to fell the trees planted along the wagon road.

The road here referred to was the Main Road to Newlands, which in those days passed over the property, between the homesteads of Groote Schuur and Onder Schuur and behind that of De Kleine Schuur, there joining what is now known as Newlands Avenue. Traces of the public road over De Groote Schuur it is said, may still be found here and there.

Passing over two intermediate transfers we find one under date 16 November , in favour of WP em Stephanus van Ryneveld, who had purchased the estate from J. Baumgardt for 50, guldens. The new proprietor was a man of note and prominent Civil Servant, having held office under the Dutch Government, and also under the English, after the capitulation of the Cape in The Deed of Capitulation of the Cape bears his signature as one of the eight Commissioners appointed for that purpose.

A treatise on the subject of the improvement of cattle is attributed to Van Ryneveld; it is said to be one of the earliest books published at the Cape. During his ownership of De Groote Schuur many magnificent oaks, firs, poplars, etc.

On the 14 August , Van Ryneveld died; the Government Gazette of the period contains an eloquent tribute to his memory and an expression of irreparable loss to the Colony.

During his proprietorship of De Groote Schuur he had succeeded in obtaining from the Government an enlargement of his property in the shape of three additional freehold grants of adjacent land. The first of these bears date 2 November , and is signed by Jan Willem Janssens, the last Governor under the Dutch regime, who was destined a couple of years later to suffer disastrous defeat, after an heroic struggle on the plains of Blaauwberg.

His caligraphy is a striking one, some of the letters of the signature measuring nearly two inches in height. The grant required that the grantee was to plant trees on the land within five years — which obligation, as we have seen, he amply fulfilled. It may here be stated that the grant of the adjoining land named Mount Pleasant in favour of Pieter Laurens Cloete, bears even date.

Mount Pleasant is said to have been a fine homestead, at which hospitality was dispensed on a lavish scale. Tradition has it that money was buried on the property. The writer still remembers excavations having been pointed out, the work of those who expected to reap a rich harvest but were doomed to disappointment.

This house was destroyed by fire and the ruins may still be seen in places; in some parts huge trees have grown up amongst the walls. Solitude reigns supreme, the only living creatures being the birds and ubiquitous squirrels. Remains of the fine orchard may here and there be found in the shape of fig or chestnut, half wild now, or a grape vine, clinging to the moss-grown stem of a poplar. Van Ryneveld had also acquired the place De Kleine Schuur.

He was thus a landholder on a fairly extensive scale and had possessed influence enough to induce the Dutch Government to free him from the irksome servitude of a thoroughfare over De Groote Schuur. The Government Resolution approving of the cancellation of servitude is dated 4 April The proprietor relinquished ownership of a piece of ground between Kleine Schuur and Westervoort for the purpose of the alternative route. De Kleine Schuur was bought by Marthinus Cerf. Transfer is dated 26 February A subsequent proprietor of the latter, named Alexander Logie du Toit, in whose time the place was planted with splendid vineyards and orchards, carried on a wine-making industry with very fair success, it is said.

Serious inaccuracies had been found to exist in regard to the area of De Groote Schuur assigned thereto by the original surveyor. Under a Government Proclamation of a re-survey was made by Mr.

Thibault, Inspector of Buildings and Fortifications and Surveyor, better known as the associate and intimate friend of the famous sculptor, Anton Anreith. Thibault framed an amended diagram, setting forth the true area of the property. Buyskes, in turn, sold it in to Judge Wm. Westbrooke Burton, of the Supreme Court at the Cape who changed the name of the property to Westbrooke. Judge later Sir William Burton died in London in , at the ripe age of Anosi disposed of De Groote Schuur to Mr.

Abraham de Smidt, transfer having been effected on 20 January During he also acquired Westbrooke, purchased from Judge Burton. For many years Westbrooke was utilized by the Colonial Governors as a summer residence, amongst the number being that sturdy warrior, Sir Harry Smith, and Lieutenant-General Hay. He substituted a slate roof for the original thatched one after the walls had been slightly lowered. The estate was greatly improved during Mr. The Grahamstown Journal of October and the Cape Monthly Magazine in devoted considerable space to a description of its charms.

The proprietor is mentioned as taking great pride and pleasure in the upkeep of the place, especially its gardens and trees. He was a musician of some talent and had exercised great taste in the selection of musical clocks of ingenious construction, of which there were several at Groote Schuur.

The finest specimen, evidently of French make, consisted of a musical box on which rested an ornate gilded clock, so arranged that as each hour was struck a musical selection was played. The top of the clock formed a platform with an oak tree and trapeze, on which a ballet girl danced on a slack-rope. Grouped on the platform were figures with various musical instruments.

The mechanism actuated these puppets so as to move their hands on guitars, cymbals and the like, at the same time moving or nodding their heads in time to the music. This unique ornament is happily in Cape Town today, and permission was very kindly accorded the writer to photograph it. He could play on the keyboard the identical tunes performed by the barrels.

Having started a selection he would, after a few bars, lift his hands from the keyboard and set the mechanism going, previously adjusted so as to continue the melody at the point at which it had been interrupted! A large portion of the adjoining estate, named Rustenburg also originally the property of the East India Company had also been purchased in by Mr.

This estate was granted in freehold to Mr. Jan Hoets in and on one portion of it was situated the Belvedere now known as Mr. The avenues of oaks and firs have gradually been sacrificed in the past for the unromantic yet necessary purpose of fuel. The traditional history of the Belvedere is rather interesting.

There, on moonlit nights the folks of a bygone age were wont to meet at picnics and dance parties whilst a stringed band dispensed sweet music from the platform or gallery of the building. It had a fine old homestead, vineyards and orchards and an interesting little walled cemetery. This is the more striking in these somewhat utilitarian times in which the vandalistic actions of those responsible for the care of the ancient cemeteries of Cape Town have been adversely criticised, and deservedly, too.

Welgelegen in time passed to the family of Mostert, from whom it was purchased by Mr. The magnificent memorial, it may be pointed out, is situated on the Welgelegen Estate. But to return to De Groote Schuur proper, Mr. Abraham de Smidt, Snr. The new proprietor was for some time Surveyor-General of the Cape Colony, and was an artist of great ability. The transfers of both places are dated 21 November De Groote Schuur was let from to as a residence during the summer months for the Governor, Sir Henry Barkly.

Finding the responsibility entailed in the efficient maintenance of this large property too burdensome, Mr. The work of its sub-division into lots was entrusted to Mr. Merriman, Government Land Surveyor, in The sale took place on 9 December, the house lot being purchased by the late Mrs. Transfer was passed in the following year. The greater portion of the estate was acquired in lots by different individuals.

Rhodes had leased it in and later purchased it, transfer being dated 8 September He gradually acquired the remainder, or at any rate, the greater portion of the lots sold in He most fittingly restored the ancient name of the property.

Westbrooke was sold in in the estate of the late Mr. Both this place and the adjoining De Kleine Schuur afterwards became the property of the late Mr. The writer now proposes to place before readers some account of De Groote Schuur during the period of his residence there. The homestead, though an imposing and massive-looking edifice, could not by any means be described as an ideal residence. The reception rooms and apartments on the ground floor were commodious and lofty, but the bedrooms on the first floor were almost uninhabitable in summer owing to the stifling heat.

This defect was attributable to the injudicious lowering of the walls and substitution of a low-pitched slate roof for the old thatched one. Passing through the hall and traversing a paved courtyard we arrived at a double flight of steps, surrounding a cistern formerly supplied with water from a central jet. These steps gave access to a series of terraces with hedges of dwarf roses, syringa and old fig trees. Two of the first-mentioned trees had ancient bells said to have been slave bells suspended from them.

The top terrace contained accommodation for poultry in the shape of two substantial buildings furnished with massive conical-topped pillars supporting picturesque green railings.

On this terrace, too, were a couple of huge fig trees. Tradition had it that an unhappy slave, weary of servitude, had in bygone days terminated his wretched existence by hanging himself from one of these trees.

The writer has a vivid recollection of his youthful terrors when passing this fatal spot after nightfall. This last terrace gave access to an extensive grassy courtyard with a circular fountain in its centre. On the opposite side of the courtyard could be traced the remains of demolished buildings, also former slave quarters. The whole of the back quarters, terraces and courtyard were enclosed within very substantial walls. A quaint relic of former days may be briefly referred to here.

This was an antique coach of huge size, formerly the property of Mr. It was provided with steps, folding up inside and at the back was a platform for the accommodation of two footmen. Needless to relate, this vehicle was never utilized during the period under review, but had been relegated to a special shed literally built around it and left to the tender mercies of spiders and dust. Occasionally some member of the household or a friend would pay a visit to the shed and braving the cobwebs, curiously scan the deserted relic.

The orchards on the property were in those days very extensive. Many of the trees were of huge size, especially the saffron-pear and plum trees. Other fruits that throve well were chestnuts, medlars, guava and loquat. A circular fish pond, having a miniature island in its centre, was a conspicuous object in the old garden. Its walls may yet be traced at the foot of the main hydrangea walk.

It was supplied with water from the springs situated in the Glen. Latterly it proved an impossibility to retain the water in the pond owing to the roots of the enormous poplars in the neighbourhood causing cracks in the cement with which it was paved.

The main avenue leading to De Groote Schuur was originally entered through massive gatepiers having ancient cannon at their feet. The latter were removed by Mr. The two lesser pillars yet remain in situ. The cannon were removed by Mr. About the middle of the 19th century a large wolf trap might still have been seen there.

This Glen is still a charming spot, but many of its chief charms have passed away. Indeed, as the writer recollects the spot, it was a most beautiful dingle, unexcelled for sylvan grandeur. Amongst the oak and poplars were to be found some of the largest and choicest specimens the Colony had produced.

The trunks of several of these were moss- and lichen-covered for some distance from the ground, presenting a truly beautiful appearance. In those days the hydrangea plants were not found further up the Glen than the top of the main walk facing the fish pond, at which spot there was a delightful arbour surrounded by ferns growing amid rockwork. How wonderfully the ferns, especially the maiden-hair varieties, flourished in the Glen! This fern was found in rich masses of most luxuriant growth on the steep northern slope, in some spots completely covering the ground like a carpet.

Here, too, the Newlands Creeper of the Asparagus family twined round the saplings and foliage or about the moss-covered boulders. The arum lily and autholiza also grew in profusion. Many acts of wanton spoliation were wont to be perpetrated here by ruthless trespassers, the pity of it being that the fronds of the ferns quickly withered after removal from the damp ground. The springs located in the head of the Glen constituted the sole water supply of De Groote Schuur as well as of Westbrooke.

This bird is very rarely seen, as it has a habit of frequenting the tops of the highest trees; this may account for its ornithological name, cuculus solitarius.

The back and outside of the wings are dark brown, the breast and under parts white or light grey. Mention must also be made of another plant which throve in the Glen, and that was the wild vine, also called the monkey-rope Baviaan touw. The naturalist, Le Vaillant, tells us that the latter name was given to this creeper in consequence of its pendulous stems being utilized by the baboon in order to gain access to the tree-tops to feed on the berries of the plant.

In the Glen the rope-like stems were in many specimens nearly one hundred feet in length growing from the highest branches of the enormous trees. In some places the foliage would so densely cover the tree tops as almost to exclude the daylight.

By means of this it was possible to swing across the Glen — an exhilarating pastime, with just a spice of danger about it. The wild coffee tree, with its dark glossy foliage and crimson-coloured kernels greatly added to the beauty of the scenery. During the severe north-west gales in the winter, havoc would occasionally be wrought in the Glen. Huge trees were uprooted to crash down and spread destruction amongst the vegetation.

The fallen tree stems would bridge the hollow. But a more mischievous agent than the wind was soon to appear on the scene and that was the woodman armed with his keen axe! After the sale of the property by Mr. De Smidt the purchasers of the Glen lots caused many of the trees growing on the hill and also in the hollow to be felled or lopped. The result of this vandalistic treatment was disastrous as far as the sylvan beauty of the Glen was concerned.

The wild vine disappeared for ever. The only plant that profited by the change was the prolific and unlovely poplar scrub, which rapidly sprang up in those places formerly denied to it by reason of the shade. The ousting of the ferns was speedily effected.

The recent extensive planting of hydrangea within the Glen area was well planned. The homestead, as originally rebuilt by Mr. Rhodes, the design of which was adopted to match the old house of , was destroyed in a disastrous and mysterious fire on 15 December , but most fortunately the richest contents of the house were preserved. Without delay the restoration of the ruined portion was put in hand and completed in The original scheme of design was preserved, but as a precautionary measure a tiled roof was substituted for the former thatched one.

The tiles were specially selected so as, from a distance, to resemble thatch as much as possible. Thus, phoenix-like, arose from the ashes a perfected dwelling, with the appearance of which most of us are by this time familiar. In conclusion let us realise how fortunate it is that this magnificent estate did not fall into the hands of the land jobber or ferry-builder as unhappily has been the fate of many another fine property in the Cape Peninsula. The consequences of such a fate would have been too lamentable to contemplate.

But the term would certainly not have been deemed an inappropriate one during the days when the settlement was first established. It was chiefly utilized by the clumsy and heavy wagons conveying timber from the mountain forest for building and other purposes, including repairs to the fort, the walls of which frequently collapsed through the action of the heavy winter rains.

The fury of the south-easters was the chief cause of such inadequacy, the young plants frequently being either dried up or blown out of the ground. Relief was accordingly sought elsewhere, and happily found.

He found that not one ear of the ripe barley had been injured by the wind, and that all the other grain was progressing admirably. When he left Table Valley a heavy south-east gale was raging there. For protection of the new garden a small redoubt of sod-walls was next erected and garrisoned with a few men. The earliest reference to a substantially-built house there, is found in the Journal, under date 3 February , to the effect that van Riebeeck had ordered bricks to be prepared for that purpose.

In order to show how agriculture was progressing at the Cape at this period, a despatch of may be quoted. Stupidity, or worse, was responsible for the non-arrival of a supply of hop plants from Holland in the same year. Enter the Vine Three years later we read of the progress of the vine at Rondebosch. An official inspection was made by the Commander to ascertain whether the plants were being properly manured and otherwise attended to. In the vineyard was again so inspected, and found in a flourishing condition.

From this time also dates the inception of the use of the house as a summer resort for the Dutch Governors. Three years after this a set-back is recorded, as the Company was found to be suffering a heavy loss on the place. About some idea of selling the property seems to have been entertained. This was abandoned, however, for in the same year we are told of its lease to one Bothma for three thousand Cape gulden per annum and two leaguers of good Cape wine.

The general progress of agriculture at the Cape in is well illustrated by the records, which show that the Company was at that time gradually abandoning farming operations, and could depend upon obtaining abundant food supplies from the Colonists. As to Rustenburg, it is recorded that the best vegetables were grown there, the soil being more fertile than that of Table Valley.

Strangely enough, an attempt to grow hops there had proved a failure. The vines succeeded admirably; on 31 December , there were , plants in full bearing in the country garden. The Governor may well have felt pardonable pride in having been able in to send to Holland a sample shipment of two leaguers of wine produced from the Rustenburg vineyards.

A further important use was made of the property as a plantation for oaks. Here, indeed, had been established the very first nursery garden and plantation in South Africa. In , orders had arrived at the Cape from the Home authorities that the forest plantations at Rustenburg were to be well tended in view of the valuable timber obtained thence.

Stringent conditions had accordingly been inserted in the lease as to felling of trees. From the Journal of we learn that on 29 August two wagons were to be sent to Rondebosch to obtain 20, young trees for transmission to Stellenbosch and Drakenstein.

Portuguese Officers But Rustenburg had been used by the Company for other purposes also. In the winter of , certain officers of the wrecked Portuguese ship Nestra Senera de les Milagres were allowed to lodge at the house and draw monthly rations. With the party were some priests who had lost their effects in the same vessel. Others were lodged there too, but in very different circumstances.

How ardently these wretched captives must have longed to return to that land of spicy breezes and intrigue! Contemporary references to an historic place like Rustenburg are of great interest. Thus wrote Thunberg, the famous botanist and traveller, in An event of historical importance occurred at this spot on 16 September Rustenberg Sold This brings us to the close of the official chronicle of the property.

A few supplementary facts bearing upon its subsequent history may, however, not be considered out of place.

The resources of the Company had been at a low ebb towards the close of its rule, and means had to be devised for raising funds. Hence Rustenburg had perforce to follow suit. We find that in it became the property of Mr. Jan Hoets the ancestor of the Cape branch of the family of that name. In he received a freehold grant to the property, the purchase price being 60, gulden Indian currency , and the extent over 50 morgen.

Part of the southern boundary was a strip of Government land between Rustenburg and De Schuur. Portion of a large beacon of Rustenburg was still to be seen a few years ago, near the foot of Highstead Road. Hoets soon set to work improving his property, paying special attention to its gardens, vineyards and orchards. Finding its area somewhat limited according to his ideas, he turned his eyes towards the strip of vacant ground above referred to, for which it may be stated, other parties had already applied.

The Government could scarcely have ignored such very flattering testimony, so we find that in a title on quitrent tenure, under the hand of Acting-Governor Sir Rufane Donkin, was duly issued. By purchase in from Mr. Mention has been made of his opulence and power. But he possessed a virtue rarely found in conjunction therewith, namely, generosity. A striking instance of the latter was afforded in by his gift to the first Dutch Reformed Church in Cape Town, of a splendid organ.

This instrument, restored and greatly improved in , is still in use in the Groote Kerk. Hoets, on the score of advanced age, advertised his property Rustenburg for sale. The subdivisions containing the fine old house, its gardens, and the famous Summer House, were bought by Mr. Cloete, a former owner of the extensive place, Mount Pleasant, on the hillside to the southward, the homestead of which had been destroyed by fire.

The remainder of Rustenburg passed in to Mr. The Summer House had also been known as the Belvedere. About , when Mr. Rhodes acquired the upper portion of Rustenburg lands — later merged in De Groote Schuur proper — this Summer House was in a ruinous condition, and the old masoned seat to the left, in similar plight. The house was properly restored, and the old seat rebuilt to match the one to the right. On a resurvey plan made in by Thibault, are depicted oak avenues leading up from the two seats, as well as one from the homestead to the Summer House.

One or two of the graves, however, were of a type which seemed to indicate that persons of a station far less humble had also here found a last resting-place. Cloete had passed in to Mr. For during the early fifties a number of houses in the village, including the one referred to, were destroyed by a disastrous fire which had originated on the densely-wooded mountain slopes. The homestead of Rustenburg was shortly afterwards re-built. Two very interesting guardrooms fortunately escaped the disaster that had involved the adjoining buildings in ruin.

These remain as notable links with the official period, as it may be styled. As such, they are well worthy of careful preservation. Without going into further detail regarding ownership it is of interest to note that an old resident has recorded recollections of having attended a school conducted at Rustenburg as long ago as the year During later years a boarding house, which has taken the place of the early school mentioned, was a very popular resort; but an event of far greater importance was the opening, in January , of the now well-known Rustenburg School for Girls.

It was a wise choice, truly, to have selected for a purpose so useful, a setting so historic. She was the grand-daughter of a British Albany settler. Her father Alexander Biggar. He and his two sons, George and Robert, fell in fighting the Zulus in Natal, in The Biggars had rushed from Port Natal to aid the Voortrekkers. Abraham de Smidt, an uncle of the bride, after the marriage ceremony in St.

The ceremony was performed by the Rev. The whole line of road to Rondebosch was a scene of gaiety from the numerous equipages hastening to this fete of hospitality and splendour. The house itself is spacious and handsome. The gardens and pleasure grounds which surround it are laid out with infinite taste and skill. The shady walks extend to every part of the grounds — here and there one comes to a cool arbour wherein to rest and enjoy the surroundings and the fragance of the air.

It is an enchanting spot rich in every charm. There were musical clocks of the most intricate and valuable kind, Mr. McClean, Captain and Mrs. Russell and van Sillarh R. Covers were laid for over 70 guests. After several well-chosen toasts the party separated, all overflowing with praise of the hospitality of their kind attentive host and hostess — for an entertainment which as to the beauty of the great mansion where the fete took place, and the delicacies of every sort with which they were regaled, could not have been surpassed in any other country.

It was most appropriate that this South African Insurance Company should have taken occupation of its new Head Office at Rondebosch on the rd anniversary of the landing of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape, the move from the former Head Office in St. The imposing new three-storey building has been designed not only to tone with the charm of its lovely surroundings in this beautiful part of the Peninsula but to accord with the earlier history of the once famous Great Westerford homestead.

The architecture is based on the Cape Dutch style of dwelling house found in the towns as distinct from the gabled farmhouse found in the countryside. Features of this architecture were the spacious dignity of style, white walls, pediments, heavy cornice mouldings and vertical sliding windows. The Great Westerford homestead, one of the oldest in Cape Town, was a beautiful eighteenth century home and the Great Westerford estate which covered a much larger area in those days extended from the Main Road to Newlands Avenue.

It was one of the show places of the district — its history can be traced back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, to the days when the Dutch East India Company began to transfer land to the Free Burghers of the Cape.

Phijffer named the land Westervoort after the district in Holland whence he had come. In the land was sold to Steven ten Holder who later sold it to Capt. Johan Daniel Wieser; he built the Great Westerford homestead which was not demolished until 18 November Wieser sold the estate to Rudolph Cloete in By this time more land had been acquired and the estate covered 29 morgen.

In part of the estate was divided into 83 stands, Cloete retaining Westervoort which, however, at some time since had been renamed Great Westerford. The estate was then sold to a Mr.

Little and since then has changed hands several times. In recent years, the homestead was used as a boarding-house and when the site was taken over by the Southern Life Association, the famous year-old homestead was in a tumbledown state and incapable of restoration.

As a reminder of the past, some magnificent chestnut trees on the Dean Street boundary are said to be the oldest in the Union. These trees are being carefully nurtured. Here under the large oaks as many as fifty farm wagons, piled high with bundled forage and pulled by upwards of 16 horses or mules, used to outspan for the night.

The appetising smell of the chops or sausages being fried on the open fires used to waft across on the breeze to the houses opposite, one of which is still standing today. When the Germans fought the Hereros in South West Africa they imported hundreds of mules from the Argentine and these were stabled at Great Westerford. The mules were taken in batches down to the river for water and the half-wild animals would career down the Main Road with the stable-boys chasing them.

Another interesting story is that the famous Doctor James Barry frequently used to spend her leave with the Cloete family, and it was from Great Westerford that she rode to Newlands House to fight a duel with another officer. And so Great Westerford, tranquil old homestead, has made way for the home of the Southern Life Association of Africa which was founded here towards the end of last century and since that time has provided, on the mutual principle, insurance facilities for the people of Southern Africa.

The Rondebosch Common by M. This is the Rondebosch Common, the only level open public ground in the more populated suburbs where the elderly can stroll and the young fly kites and model aeroplanes.

The number of blue flowers growing here is astonishing — drifts of small glossy blue liliaceae, patches of pale short and longer dark baviana, strips of delicate irises and other bulbous plants, and that loveliest of daisies which is dark blue in colour with a navy centre.

Tortoise berries drop now unheeded on the sandy soil and the observant may even find a kukumakranka, a deliciously scented yellow juicy seed-pod, in days past much sought by buck and Hottentots, sticking out of the ground. The story of the Common is as varied as its floral wealth. There is in the Cape Archives a most interesting map of a hundred and fifty years ago: The properties marked on the mountainside of this map are the Newlands Headquarters going right down to the Liesbeeck, with Mr.

On the Common several army regiments were encamped: Butler, the 89th under Major Hilliard, the 72nd Highlanders under Lt. Halkett, the 83rd under Major Collins, the 4th Battalion of the 60th under Lt.

Austin, and the Royal Artillery under Lt. Before the second English capture of the Cape in , the Dutch too had encamped on the Common, but a sad event had made them move their army to higher ground at the Wynberg Camp. Recruiting for the Dutch army in preparation for the expected invasion had been tardy, so to spur it on General Janssens had had his own teenage son enlist, after he had returned from an extensive tour of the country with Commissioner-General de Mist.

His tutor, the botanist Dr. Lichtenstein, who also was a member of the party, has left a well-known description of this expedition. If you like a little soul with your soul food then this is place for you.

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