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SWELLENDAM SPARKLES IN HERITAGE MONTH

September is Heritage Month, and there are few better places to embrace South Africa’s architectural heritage than in the scenic Overberg town of Swellendam.  Situated at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, some 240km from both Cape Town and George, the town is the third oldest magisterial settlement in South Africa, and boasts some spectacular examples of Cape Dutch and Victorian architecture.  A few of these beautifully restored homes are now available for purchase through Pam Golding Properties, which has several national monuments on its books, for sale either as private homes or as thriving guesthouses.


Swellendam was founded in the early 1700’s when frontier traders and artisans established a settlement there as they migrated away from Cape Town and over the Hottentots Holland mountains.  It was long regarded as the “last outpost of civilisation” on the eastern frontier, but was only formally declared a magisterial district in 1743, when it was named after the Cape governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena Ten Damme.  What had begun as a small trading settlement soon blossomed into the gateway to the interior, and a thriving town grew up around the first buildings, now preserved as the Drostdy museum complex.  In 1795 the burghers revolted against the Dutch East India Company and declared themselves an independent republic, but this was to be short-lived, as Britain occupied the Cape just a few years later.  Under British rule, Swellendam boomed into the capital of the Overberg region. 


 


Today Swellendam is a thriving agricultural district with successful fruit, grain, sheep and dairy farms.  It is also home to numerous historic buildings such as the Drostdy complex and the Dutch Reformed “Moederkerk” with its eclectic mix of architectural styles including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Cape vernacular.  The years since 2000 have seen the town enjoy something of a Renaissance of its own, with many overseas nationals settling here from the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Germany, as well as South Africans escaping the fast pace of the city in pursuit of a quieter and more peaceful country lifestyle.  Many of these newcomers have poured substantial time and resources into restoring some of the town’s older buildings, giving Swellendam a facelift which is now on display in the run-up to Heritage Day on September 24th.


 


Pam Golding Properties has several of these restored buildings on its books at present, including “De Oude Pastorie”, a Cape Victorian parsonage on 2000sqm, which was built in 1907 to house the ministers serving the congregation of the Old Mission Church.  The magnificent homestead features wooden floors and Oregon pine ceilings, as well as historic furniture and slipper bathtubs.  It is currently being run as a B&B, and offers five en-suite bedrooms as well as a secluded garden with a swimming pool.  The house is on the market at R5.4 million, with the price including furniture plus a separate title three-bedroomed home on 2000sqm, ideal for owners or managers.


 


Another historic home currently on the market is “Die Tuishuise”, built in 1860 by farmers who stayed there during the Nagmaal (Holy Communion) service and subsequent market days.  The three townhouses have now been combined into one immaculate home, a slate-roofed Victorian-style dwelling which has been declared a national monument.  The property faces the historic Kerk Plein, and offers five bedrooms, three of them en suite, with the main suite having its own dressing room.  The home also boasts a swimming pool, shady courtyard and three open fireplaces.  It is on the market at R2.6 million.


 


PGP is also marketing the “Roosje van de Kaap” complex, a 10-bed country inn with an award-winning restaurant on site.  The main house offers four bedrooms on a separate title deed, ideal for owners or managers, while guests are accommodated in additional buildings including separate garden-cottage suites.  The restaurant building dates back to the late 18th century, while the adjoining house is a fine example of a 19th century Cape Georgian-Cape Dutch cottage.  This thriving operation is for sale at R5.9 million. 


PGP’s area manager for Swellendam, Le Roux van der Merwe, says a fourth historic home for sale through his agency is one of the oldest in the town.  ‘The Coachman’ is currently operating as a four-star guesthouse.  “This historic homestead was built in the 18th century, and is believed to have been the stable and coach-house for the Drostdy complex,” says Van der Merwe.  “It had several Victorian features added in the early 19th century, and was gabled in the 1930’s.  It is a declared national monument, situated on an erf of over 4000sqm.”  The main house offers six en suite bedrooms, while the lush gardens include two luxury en suite cottages, a pool with lapa, and a sunny courtyard.  The property is for sale at R4.299 million.


 


PGP’s director for the Boland and Overberg, Annien Borg, says it is gratifying to be able to offer this range of historic homesteads for sale, during the very month in which South Africa celebrates its rich heritage. “Swellendam and its surrounding district have around 50 declared national monuments, plus many more buildings worthy of conservation status,” she says.  “The residents of the town have made an enormous effort to restore and maintain this invaluable treasure trove of our history, and we are delighted to be able to pass this on to a new generation of owners who will care for these beautiful buildings and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”


 


To view the homes, or for more information on property in Swellendam, contact PGP’s area specialist Lynette Badenhorst on 028 514 2747, 082 482 0349 or lbadenhorst@pamgolding.co.za



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