Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Boschendal Manor House 1812
The farm Boschendal which means 'wood & dale', was granted to Jean de Long in 1685. A fellow Huguenot, Abraham de Villiers, bought it in 1715, together with adjacent land belonging to Nicolas de Lanoy; both farms were 60 morgen (51ha, 125 acres) each.
The de Villiers were successful wine farmers and lived at Boschendal until 1879. They were responsible for the existing buildings: Jan de Villiers fro the wine cellar and coach house (1796) and his youngest son Paul, for the homestead as it now stands. On the front gable are the initials of Paul de Villiers and his wife Anna Susanna Louw, and the date 1812 when the house was built.
From the farmyard one enters by the back door. In the dining room the family sat down to dinner with slaves waving peacock feathers behind them to keep away the flies! Most of the slaves came from the East Indies and influenced the local cuisine. Slavery was abolished at the Cape in 1834.
In the foyer visitors were often greeted with sweet house wine. The drop-fanlight had to be raised to allow them to enter by the front door. The fanlight is dual-purpose: it lets in light but not wind, and offers uninterrupted views of the farmyard.
The family entertained friends in the large drawing room decorated with a rose frieze. They played cards, made music or danced. Staunch Calvinists they may have been, but not as dour as some may think!
The main bedroom is painted a dusky colour with a variation on the acorn frieze. During the heat of the day shutters would be closed and it was pleasant to lie down in the cool darkened room, especially after a heavy midday meal.
The house originally had five bedrooms situated in the two east wings. The de Villiers owned several farms so the older sons could move out to make way for the younger ones. Girls were married off early.
The kitchen as the heart of the household - and certainly the warmest place to be!
Pride of place in the farmyard was the fowl-run next to the house; pigs, sheep and cattle were kept in pens at the other end of the yard...
Source: Boschendal Information Guide
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