Behind the Castle: The early estates and homesteads of District Six
The Zonnebloem homestead today, the last H-shaped Cape Dutch house in the Table Valley
(Photo: Jim Hislop)
The first talk of the year will focus on the early history and development of District Six, a never-before-covered topic that has finally been covered in Jim Hislop’s second book, Behind the Castle.
A remnant of the Werkerslust opstal, still standing in De Villiers Street, on the edge of old District Six
SPEAKER: Jim Hislop
Many think of District Six as a bustling, densely populated city neighbourhood, but it wasn’t always so. Originally, the area loosely referred to as ‘Behind the Castle’ consisted of a few scattered market garden estates (such as Zonnebloem, Bloemhof, Werkerslust and Hope Lodge) with large homesteads, vineyards and grazing land, accessed by a few farm roads that were later formalised into District Six thoroughfares, such as Hanover Street.
Jim Hislop’s second book, Behind the Castle, looks at this early history of the place that was to become District Six – something that has never been extensively covered in a book before.
The talk will focus on some of these early buildings, some of which are, somewhat surprisingly, still standing.
BEHIND THE CASTLE, THE BOOK
Lavishly illustrated with old artworks, photographs, maps and drawings (some published for the first time), Behind the Castle is a treasure trove for lovers of old buildings, bygone eras and the forgotten corners and characters of Cape Town. Jim will be selling the book after the talk.
Cost: R350 (R320 for Pensioners).
Born and educated in Cape Town, VASSA member Jim Hislop has developed his passion for old Cape buildings and historical research into a career as a property historian. He self-published his first book, Wheatfields & Windmills (about the early buildings of Observatory) in 2014 .Behind the Castle is Jim’s second book, and he has done all the research, layout, photography and illustrations himself.
Meet at Zonnebloem College Estate, Cambridge Street, Walmer Estate (drive through the gates and park in the parking area directly in front of the homestead). If the parking is full, you will be able to park in Cambridge Street.
Zonnebloem homestead circa 1800 (Cape Archives) and present day (Photo: Jim Hislop)
We will explore the historic Zonnebloem estate, an early market garden estate once owned by slave trader Alexander Tennant. When artist Joseph Hendrik Klein painted the werf in c.1800 (the period when Tennant took ownership), the homestead and outbuildings were adorned with elaborate gables and the buildings were at their architectural peak. Successive alterations and fires have changed the look of the homestead (the last-remaining H-shaped Cape Dutch house in the Table Valley), and only parts of the old outbuildings still remain, but the there is still much to be seen, including the later Zonnebloem College buildings, such as the Sophy Gray-designed Gothic chapel. Zonnebloem Trustee John Ramsdale may make an appearance, to tell us some interesting anecdotes about the estate and the college.
The remains of Hanover Street (Photo: Jim Hislop)
After Zonnebloem, we will look at a remnant of the famous Hanover Street that led up to the bottom gates of the Zonnebloem estate.
We will then drive to De Villiers Street and park opposite the e-News building, where Jim will point out some sites of other market garden buildings and early homesteads, such as Werkerslust, Welgelegen, Hope Lodge and Bloemhof.
For those who are peckish after the outing, JC Brasserie in De Villiers Street has a reasonably priced lunch menu and bar.http://www.jcbrasserie.co.za/menu/
Please bring: Sun cream, water, hats, windbreaker jackets (it can get very windy in the Devil’s Peak/District Six) area, and good walking shoes (open shoes are not advised, as there is much broken glass and debris around the Hanover Street site.) If you would like to buy a copy of Jim’s book, please bring R350 cash (R320 for pensioners).
Please note: Outings are for paid-up members only! Please wear your badge with the paper slip from 2019.