LOCATION: Lekkerwijn, Groot Drakenstein
LEADER: Simon Pickstone-Taylor
How architectural history demonstrates the Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement.
Lekkerwijn was originally granted to Ari L’Ecrivant in 1690. This name sounded like “lekkerwijn” to the Dutch ear and so the farm got its name. L’Ecrivant’s ownership was short lived and ended dramatically when he was murdered by his neighbour, Abraham de Villiers, who became the next owner.
The farm then became part of the extensive De Villiers holdings in the valley for the next 150 years (remember Katie Smuts telling us about this last year when guiding us around Solms Delta and Babylonstoren?)
As with many Cape wine farms, the 1880s Phylloxera outbreak bankrupted it and it was sold to Cecil John Rhodes in 1892, who was cannily buying up farms in the stricken area so as to establish the Rhodes Fruit Farms, which was to be the start of the deciduous fruit industry at the Cape.
This is the point at which Lekkerwijn’s story ties in to Nic’s talk. In 1892, the team Rhodes put in place to start his fruit farming project comprised Pickstone, one Van Reenen (a local farmer) and one Lionel Baker – brother of the architect Herbert Baker. And here the connection between Rhodes, Baker and Pickstone was established.
In 1898, Harry Pickstone became the first manager of the Rhodes Fruit Farms. His residence was at L’Crevént – Lekkerwijn. Herbert Baker and his wife were both visitors and so it was almost inevitable that Baker advised Harry Pickstone on the extension of the Lekkerwijn homestead to accommodate his growing family.
What is of interest to us in our visit, is how the house demonstrates the “appropriation” Nic Coetzer discusses in his talk.
The plan Baker put forward for the house was a double-storied, double-gabled house rather like Groote Schuur.
It obliterated the original “Cape Dutch” house, replacing it with one in the new style gaining popularity, both aesthetic and political, at the Cape at the time.
Pickstone baulked at the grand scheme and only agreed to one wing of the scheme being executed in 1908.
Thus, in Lekkerwijn we can see the vernacular and the Cape Revival side-by-side.
Our host is Simon Pickstone-Taylor, great-grandson of Harry, born on Lekkerwijn and VASSA member.
To hear Simon tell the story of Lekkerwijn, visit http://www.lekkerwijn.com/#hist and watch the video.