Guides & Glossaries

James Walton gallery

James Walton gallery

James Walton was the doyen of vernacular architecture in South Africa, and was the honorary life president and founder member of the Vernacular Society of South Africa. Though he was not a trained architect, his publications are all illustrated with his own inimitable pen-sketches, which VASSA is privileged to be able to use.

Walton’s eleven books and over two hundred papers are all pioneering efforts in their own field, which is the study of truly ‘folk’ and not just ‘historical’ architecture and structures.
They include Homesteads and Villages of South Africa (1952),Water-mills, Windmills and Horse-mills of South Africa (1974), The Josephine Mill and its Owners (1978), Cape Dovecots and Fowl-runs (1985), Double-storeyed, flat-roofed Buildings of the rural Cape (1993). Most appropriately, Walton concluded his vernacular studies by publishing A Tribute to the Donkey. Click here to see VASSA images 

Walton bequeathed his significant collection to the Stellenbosch University Library for use by researchers. The complete collection consists of manuscripts, drawings, photographs, newsletters, lectures, portfolios, albums, plans, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and brochures. Click here to consult the detailed US catalogue 



NEWSLETTER – in lieu of March, April & May Talks or Outings

With the disruptions to our lives as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown regulations, life as we knew it seems to have become but a memory, with an uncertainty as to when we will return to something resembling normality.
With the impossibility of having talks and outings at present we will endeavour to keep you up to date with vernacular news!
This will follow on a regular basis as threats to our vernacular heritage continue and they continue to deteriorate if not looked after.
André van Graan writes that he is particularly indebted to Pat Kramer and Antonia Malan who put together this newsletter.

In March 2020, pre lockdown, Antonia Malan, Alex Dodge and Andre van Graan went on a recce to check out the Saron mission station. 
They stopped off in Hermon to see if they could find any sign of the mission there, but nothing appears to remain. They visited the Hotel with its quirky, very old bar, but which refused to entertain the Vernacs on a Saturday as that was their “busy time”.
So on to Saron, where Alex had already made a connection on a previous visit.
The old house, the former parsonage, is fantastic, still in an original state, but badly in need of repair. It is used as a community centre for the aged, with crafts room, a dining room and I believe a few oldies actually live on the premises. Everyone was friendly and the head of the centre bemoaned the fact that they could not get funding to fix the cracks.
They subsequently sent pictures to Dirkie Neethling who replied that he and Barry Anderson had visited Saron while working on their cedar wood project. Dirkie had found three or four identical muurkaste in farmhouses in the Tulbagh area. All made by the same craftsman. The workmanship and materials was of the highest quality. The Pastorie is a jewel, but in danger.
The Pastorie is the original farmhouse on De Leewenklip and was probably built by the owner in 1774, Jan De Waal. It was taken over by the Rhenish Mission in 1846. The church was built in 1851 and there is also the old school, the store and the remains of an old mill.
The day was blistering hot and they decided that a visit by the Vernacs should take place when it was cooler – maybe May. Hopefully May 2121?

Those of you who attended the outing to Mount Prospect in Constantia will remember Antonia’s description of the long battles between owners and Heritage Western Cape and other interested parties.
The latest news is that the developer has withdrawn from the project and Mount Prospect is back on the market for R80 million. Any takers??

In November 2019 Nigel Amschwand led a team of Vernacs to measure up the old langhuis at Soutkloof (orignally Woesteheuwel).
The Vernacs visited this farm on our day trip to Hopefield. It has been purchased by Jasper Smit who welcomed us on that occasion and once again was very welcoming to Nigel and his team.
The building is riddled with termites so this was a timely intervention on our part.
The project is being written up and will be published in the Vassa Journal later in the year. See July newsletter.

”I led an outing for the Vernacs 2 years ago which went to Malmesbury. We went to a farm ONGEGUND where the almost intact remains of one of the early outpost forts remain. A number of members took pictures.
Do you thing that you could ask if there are any of the fort and could they send them on to me?”
Len Raymond’s email address is:

Antonia Malan writes:
For those who are following the Two Rivers Urban Park / River Club saga, the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports Appeals Tribunal finally decided that Heritage Western Cape was within its rights, and procedurally correct, to declare a Provisional Protection under section 29 of the NHRA, while further investigations were carried out. This two year protection lapsed a couple of days after the ruling!
However, it does give confidence to HWC to stick to its guns when pressured by developers and other government sectors (Environment, Public Works, City of Cape Town).
Meanwhile, the River Club development proposal carries on in terms of NEMA (Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning), whereby HWC gets to make a ‘comment’ under section 38 of the NHRA, but DEADP makes the decisions.
Here is a good summary.
The most recent, and very interesting attempt to integrate the First Nation and ‘intangible’ heritage issues into heritage assessment is in Cindy Postlethwayt’s “Two Rivers Final Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Phase 1 report”, of March 2020. This HIA is currently under consideration and public input. Have Your Say?

Pat Kramer, Nigel Amschwand and Antonia Malan travelled to Richmond last October to attend the Richmond Book Fair for independent publishers.
– Pat took her book “Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
– Nigel took his book “1847
– Antonia took the VASSA Grootzeekoegat publication on Johannes Meintjies as well as her book “Grave Encounters”.
All were well received and an enjoyable few days was spent listening to authors present their books and exploring the vernacular architecture of surrounding towns.
Perhaps in future we could have a lecture on the architecture of Richmond, Hanover and the British hospital site at Deelfontein during the Boer War, or South African War, as it is now known.
Nigel has just reprinted ”1847” and Pat’s corbelled buildings book is nearly sold out.
If you are interested in acquiring any of them, make direct contact with the authors:

Places at the Cape

Places at the Cape

A guide to finding out about houses, farms, settlements & cultural landscapes of the Western Cape by Carohn Cornell & Antonia Malan

The history of places, layer upon layer, and the stories of the people who made the places and changed them.
How people’s activities have shaped the natural landscape, and how our environment in turn shapes us.
Ways in which places have been built and destroyed for political reasons and how deeply that has affected the people of the Cape.

Download PDF

For background to the guidebook – and what architectural historian & former Vassa chair Stewart Harris says about ”being curious” 



Household Inventories at the Cape

Household Inventories at the Cape

A guidebook for beginner researchers by Carohn Cornell & Antonia Malan

Do you want to explore Cape households of the 17th, 18th and early 19th century?
Do you want to find out about old houses and farmyards and the objects in each room?
Are you curious about how people made a living or what they wore?

Download pdf

See here for background to the guidebook – and what architectural historian & former Vassa chair Stewart Harris says about being curious  

Slaves at the Cape

Slaves at the Cape

A guidebook for beginner researchers by Carohn Cornell

Do you want to explore slave roots – of a community or a family, perhaps your own?
Are you interested in what we have inherited from the time of slavery and their cultural heritage
Find out more about the relationships between slaves and their owners
Here’s how to trace your ancestors.

Download pdf

See here for background to the guidebook – and what architectural historian & former Vassa chair Stewart Harris says about being curious 


Table Valley Market Gardens: 1800-1807 by Stewart Harris

Table Valley Market Gardens: 1800-1807 by Stewart Harris

Table Valley Market Gardens: 1800-1807
In about 1804 an unknown artist made a drawing of the Table Valley.
It shows icons of the market garden houses on the slopes that embrace the town.
Each has the owner’s name written next to it.
It happens that three of the four surviving censuses of Cape Town were taken between 1800 and 1807.

Stewart Harris selected all people who had entered details of agricultural activity.
He transcribed the data and correlated it for each property and each year.
Where known, transfer deed numbers (T) from the Deeds Office are added.

Denis Verschoyle’s map conveniently names the gardens and outlines the shape they had grown to by 1820 (Verschoyle 1977). (2007)

Click here to download the full PDF

Who’s Where in Cape Architecture

Who’s Where in Cape Architecture

A directory of people and places, organisations and social movements associated with old Cape places: Stewart Harris

It is principally an index of personal names mentioned in Hans Fransen’s A guide to the old buildings of the Cape, and also records where the properties were located.
It has been enriched with selective material identifying them from de Villiers and Pama’s Genealogies of old South African families and the Dictionary of South African biography, and partially from other references.
By plotting individuals and where their properties were, the data base shows the diverse land holdings some had, and the geography of family ownership – it shows who’s where in Cape Architecture.(2006)

Click here to download the full PDF

A Guide to Measuring Buildings

A Guide to Measuring Buildings

Download English pdf 

Download Afrikaans pdf


The Grootzeekoegat Project, Molteno

The Grootzeekoegat Project, Molteno

The Grootzeekoegat Project, Molteno

A project to document Grootzeekoegat, near Molteno in the Eastern Cape, the former family farm and home of artist Johannes Meintjies.

Instigated by Dr. Keith Meintjies and undertaken by a team from Vassa, the project was managed by Lita Webley.

The team comprised: Judy Maguire, Anton Roux, Karin Dugmore-Ström, John Kramer, Pat Kramer, André Van Graan.

March, 2019

Look over the Forward for an idea of the contents 

See how to buy this special edition that was edited by Antonia Malan and designed by Alta Stegman. 

The Sandveld Project - Piketberg district

The Sandveld Project – Piketberg district


To find out why this fruitful collaborative oral history project started – and how it captured the stories of the people of the Sandveld … look over the informative reports below

Click here for an English version
Click here for an Afrikaans version

The aim of the project was to make an audio-visual record of the stories of families associated with Southern Sandveld farms and settlements, to identify and record the built environment and cultural landscape, and to carry out archival research related to tracing the past history of these families and places.
The recording process had already started in 2011 on the farms Wagenpad and ‘t Voetpad (Ezelshoek).

The team comprised Carohn Cornell who works mainly in the field of public history, as an oral history interviewer and as a writer and/or editor of exhibition texts and publications for community-based researchers.
Liane Greeff specialises in photography and videography: filming, editing and producing videos regarding environmental and social justice and water-related issues.
Antonia Malan is a historical archaeologist with many years of experience as an academic and a heritage consultant. She is a trustee of the Tracing History Trust and edits the VASSA Journalon behalf of the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa.
Kay McCormick has retired from Applied Linguistic Studies at UCT, and is developing expertise as a photographer for social history projects.
Leon van Wyk and Claire James recordeded and transcribed the interviews. 
The team was assisted by Maureen Archer (VASSA member and oral historian), Elsa Naudé (born Burger, a local family) and Guy Thomas (MA candidate, Department of Archaeology, UCT

To open the posters below, click each one …

Local architecture poster / Piketberg District

Portrait posters 

Posters texts translated

Smouse en Plaaswinkels Poster

Tobacco poster and texts

Kerk en skool poster



Simondiun station, designed by Herbert Baker


LOCATION: Simondium / Franschhoek
LEADER: John Rennie & Pat Kramer

 We will be visiting Franschhoek for our first outing of the year.
Our first stop is Simondium where we will be looking at the old station building designed by Sir Herbert Baker who was influenced by local vernacular architecture.
Cecil John Rhodes was a friend and patron of Sir Herbert Baker, designer of the Union Buildings and Pretoria station among his many achievements in South Africa and co-designer with Lutyens of the Imperial seat of government in Delhi that Sir Herbert also designed the humble station buildings of Simondium, a halt that served Rhodes’s fruit farms! 
In the old cover photograph, the stationmaster, his wife and children, the train personnel and an arriving customer (perhaps a taxi) with his Cape cart provide this glimpse of rural Edwardian life as the evening mixed train from Franschhoek calls at Simondium  c1912.

Franschhoek – Huguenot Memorial Museum
We will be visiting the museum to see the exhibition (opened in April 2019) that curator Tracey Randle spoke about at the February Talk. Those of you who attended the Tracey’s talk will have a good understanding of the reinterpretation and method of display.

Bien Donné  was granted to Pierre Lombard, a Huguenot. In 1762 it was transferred to Jan de Villiers, the owner of Boschendal and in 1777 to his son David. The homestead was built by him in 1800. In 1806 his widow transferred the farm to Daniel Joubert, who was a relative.
The H-shaped house was ‘restored’ by FK Kendall in 1929 (He also reconstructed Groot Constantia after the fire.) The entrance was shifted to the rear of the property in the 1830s and it has a mock door. The house was later restored by the architect Revel Fox. The cellar is dated 1792.

After lunch, we will make our way to Plaisir de Merle – a complete contrast to Bien Donné.  In 1693 the Cape Governor, Simon van der Stel, granted the Huguenot, Charles Marais, land, which he named after his home town, Le Plessis Marly. Today the farm is known as Plaisir de Merle which translates from the French to ‘Pleasure of the Blackbird’
The homestead was built by Jacob Marais in 1764, although there probably was a longhouse there before. The cellar is dated 1823, probably by Daniel Hugo who held the farm from 1808 until 1848.


Huguenot Meorial Museum, Franschhoek


TOPIC: Curating archival and material traces
SPEAKER: Tracey Randle

Vernacular architecture is a material expression of the way people live and adapt to the environment, available materials, as well as social and cultural imperatives. We start 2020 by looking at the way that this has been made manifest in exhbitions which move away from the old static displays of material culture. 2020 will see us coming to terms with the way people lived in the vernacular cultural landscape and how that impacted on the architecture.
Tracey will describe how she has used the archive and material records to reveal complex social lives of diverse people at the Cape in exhibitions.  

Tracey Randle completed her MA at UCT in Historical Studies in 2004. From 2004 to 2015 she was the resident historian and curator for Solms-Delta wine estate, Franschhoek. Tracey’s archival research centred on the complex and nuanced contact zones between colonists, indigenous inhabitants and slaves, farm owners and farm workers.
The visual and physical expression of this research was the installation of a permanent exhibition called Museum van de Caab (opened in 2005), and its satellite exhibition Music van de Caab (opened in 2014) similarly themed on the contact zones omnipresent in the global and local influences in Cape music).
In 2016 she began work on curating a new exhibition for the Huguenot Memorial Museum (opened in April 2019) and has curated various other installations across the Western Cape. She is currently doing her PhD in Curation through Michaelis. 

Zewnrivieren, Groot Drakenstein


LOCATION: Drakenstein area – Zevenrivieren, Goede Hoop & Lekkerwijn 
LEADER: Andre van Graan 

ZEVENRIVIEREN, where we will be welcomed by James Newton.
This farm was granted to Jacob Pleunis and Pieter Malmer in 1708. (Malmer had been settled there for over twenty years); its size was about 120 morgen. 
After various changes of ownership it was acquired in 1779 by Johannes Jacobus Hamman, who owned it until 1803 and built the house in 1790. A later owner, David Pieter de Villiers, was responsible for the wine cellar, dated 1810.
The homestead on Zevenrivieren is H-shaped and retains a most beautiful Baroque gable dated 1790, with concave and convex outline mouldings that have become a Combination of wavy curves as at Hazendal, Lower Vredenburg and Ida’s Valley — all more or less of the same date — but with its face left  comparatively unadorned. Apart from its gable, the house has been much altered.

It has an iron roof and windows dating from the mid-19th century, while the side-courts have been filled in. ‘The front door is original. The end-gables are holbol; there is no back gable. 
The cellar, in line with the house on its right (there are slave-quarters on the other side), has modern windows and an iron roof, but retains a fine gable dated 1810 with a pediment, four pilasters and winged scrolls. In contrast to later gables it has strong horizontal emphasis, as a result of its widely swung wings, its thatch-line string-course and its heavy horizontal mouldings underneath the pediment. The farm complex is how enclosed by an eight-foot wall and security gates, and virtually invisible. [De Bosdari p80.|

GOEDE HOOP, next to Pniel, that Stuart Hermansen discussed in detail at his November Talk.

Finally, we will go on to Lekkerwijn where Simon Pickstone-Taylor will arrange to have his late father’s amazing door collection moved out of the barn for us to view.
We will also have our end of year picnic here in the grounds of Lekkerwijn

Goed hoop, Groot Drakenstein


TOPIC: The history of Goede Hoop farm in Drakenstein
SPEAKER:  Stuart Hermansen

Stuart Hermansen will give a broad overview of the history of the farm Goede Hoop, that was first settled in 1688 by Pierre Jacob from Calais,  in the larger context, but will then focus on the buildings on the werf [homestead, wine cellar, so-called ‘slave lodge’, stables and small cottage assumed to be the original mill-house]. 

He will  be looking at the building fabric and compare that to the current historical narrative of the farm. There is a noticeable discrepancy between building construction date timelines by the various specialists who have investigated various aspects of the farm buildings. His approach will be to raise questions rather than make statements about the buildings, which will hopefully spark debate!

Stuart Hermansen is the principal architect and the founding member of HB Architects which was founded in 2003.He gained considerable experience in architectural conservation and restoration during his formative years when working for Rennie & Goddard Architects from 1985 – 1990.
The promulgation of the National Heritage Resources Act in 1999 – and an appointment by Stellenbosch Municipality to determine their duties and responsibilities in terms of the Act – gave him the opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of heritage legislation and its practical application, and he has consulted with many clients and construction professionals since then with regard to all aspects of architectural and spatial conservation either as principal agent or consultant.
As a practicing architect, he enjoys working on historic Cape farms and heritage buildings of all periods, but works across a broad spectrum of projects from major refurbishments at the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University to the very contemporary Studio Lionel Smit on the historic precinct at Paardevlei.

Timour Hall, Constantia


LOCATION: Mount Prospect & Timour Hall, Constantia
LEADERS: Alex Dodge & Pat Kramer

Mount Prospect lies adjacent to Groot Constantia in a very desirable area for people seeking comfortable, secure retirement homes. 
It currently has a house, two barns and several outbuildings set in a large, neglected plot. Controversy arose in 2015 over a particularly dense development proposal, regarded by many as inappropriate, and the matter is still in contention.  One knife-edge decision was not to grade it as Grade II (Provincial Heritage Site). We will discuss on site the reasons for this, and other hotly contested opinions related to the Constantia Heritage Landscape. 
Several VASSA members have been involved in the matter, and we hope that they will come along to add their voices.

Mount Prospect
Hans Fransen (2004) wrote: “In a rural area where most farm complexes have been turned into gentlemen’s residences or housing estates, a real plaaswerf is a welcome sight. On Mt. Prospect the homestead is Victorian, with two bay-fronted, boldly projecting stoepkamers- the bays two-storeyed with loft windows. The back, with two flat stoepkamers, faces the werf, which includes two older, but much-altered outbuildings”.

Timour Hall
The property, on the banks of the Diep River, was granted To Johan Lochner of Mannheim in 1784. The name is presumed to have been derived from Timor in the East Indies.
Although the house appears to be Victorian, with a Cape Revival gable, it is a much earlier, late 18th century house. The voor-& agterkamer form the present impressive entrance hallway. The change in appearance is thought to have been made by Mrs. Aletta Smith, a granddaughter of William Duckitt, in the 1870s. At the rear is an irregularly shaped farmyard bounded by outbuildings, one of which is a ballroom.
There is a beautiful garden to picnic in at Timour Hall, should you wish to. The place was once run as a nursery, so the vegetation is fantastic. 

Herber Baker furniture


TOPIC: Place and tradition in design: Herbert Baker’s South African furniture  
SPEAKER: André van Graan

Sir Herbert Baker is probably one of the best known architects of the 20th century in South Africa. His architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century created a stylistic framework that defined the local architecture of pre-World War ll South Africa.
But it was not only his architecture which is significant but also his furniture and interiors that formed an integral part of his design philosophy.
As an Arts & Crafts follower he was drawn to the architecture and the old furniture of the Cape. Initially he bought Cape furniture for houses such as Groote Schuur, thereby creating an appreciation for and a renewed interest in Cape antique furniture which was overlooked by the locals hell-bent on the collection of English and French furniture.
From his work for Rhodes at Groote Schuur, particularly after the fire which destroyed some of the English antiques, he started designing furniture for there and this then became an essential part of his designs.|
Baker developed a design approach which drew on Cape vernacular furniture for inspiration, but coupled this with his Arts & Crafts background, thus finding common ground in English late 17th century furniture which, as a result of the dual monarchy of William & Mary, drew inspiration from William of Orange’s Dutch background and the craftsmen who came to England at that stage.

In this talk he will look at these diverse influences and the furniture which Baker produced for his many projects, showing the links between traditional Cape furniture and erly English furniture.
He will also link this to Baker’s integration of his furniture into his interiors, particularly domestic interiors, creating an iconic image of a ‘Cape’ interior

André van Graan is a heritage architect who spent many years in academia as a lecturer in architecture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Architectural Technology & Interior Design programme. He also taught on the MPhil (Conservation of the Built Environment) at UCT. He is, in addition to producing the VASSa newsletter, also a former Chairman of the Society, and a former president of the Cape Institute for Architecture.

André developed in interest in the work of Herbert Baker, when he returned to South Africa after a lengthy period studying and working in England. Arriving in Johannesburg he found the city bewildering and somewhat brash so it was with some relief that he found Parktown with its plethora of Baker buildings. He studied his work and became a member of the then Parktown Westcliff Heritage Trust, His understanding of Baker’s work is thanks to energetic enthusiasts such as Flo Bird who propelled him into an understanding of the essence of what made good Baker buildings and what didn’t!



Montagu and Surrounding Districts, 27- 29 Sep 2019

Venues visited: Montagu Museum, Derdeheuwel, KWV building (Montagu Museum Art Gallery), Rietvlei, Goedemoed, Kruis (De Stal), Onderkruis, Baden.

People encountered: Marchelle van Zyl conducted a walking tour of the town of Montagu.

Notes prepared by Pat Kramer & Nigel Amschwand




TOPIC: What evidence do archaeologists use to date old buildings?  
SPEAKER: Antonia Malan

Bricks and mortar, window and door fittings, are dateable artefacts, and the building technique and style belongs to a certain period.
But what about ruins, where the foundations are all that’s left?

Vernacs often search for bits of broken china around old buildings, and discuss what they were and how old they are. What else can this debris tell us, and what other artefacts are used to date a building or a sequence of construction events? 

In this talk, the excavations and other investigations into the VOC outpost in Newlands Forest – ‘t Paradijs (that we visited in March 2019) provide examples of various archaeological methods of tracing a structure’s history,   
(The work was done by UCT in the  1980s, so it also gives a glimpse into a pre-digital past. Who remembers reading dumpy levels upside down?)

Dr. Antonia Malan, a former Chair of the Society, is a historical archaeologist with a PhD from the University of Cape Town, she is a Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at UCT. 
A focus on household inventories of deceased estates of the 18th and 19th century Cape Colony lead to a deep interest in vernacular architecture and the spatial development of Cape Town and its hinterland.
She directed a significant transcription project capturing archival papers from the VOC period and the first decades of British rule at the Cape, in collaboration with the national archives of the Netherlands.
As a free-lance archaeologist and heritage consultant, she works closely with the Archaeology Contracts Office at UCT, taught  part-time in inter-disciplinary programmes, and is actively involved in local heritage issues, sitting on statutory heritage committees.
She is responsible for the Publications Portfolio of our Society and is the current Chair of the Heritage Western Cape Council.

Paradise, Newlands, ceramics


LOCATION: Paradise, Newlands Forest
LEADER: Antonia Malan

Paradise (or t’ Paradijs) was originally a VOC military outpost, which became home to woodcutters, soldiers and slaves. It was occupied from c.1720 to 1820, and was in ruins by the 1830s, when Sir John Herschel sketched the site, which by then was popular with picnickers.
During the 1980s, the site was excavated by a team of archaeologists, including Dr Antonia Malan, who led the outing.
Many artefacts were found during this excavation, and it was discovered that an earlier house (probably destroyed by fire), lay under the remains of the present later 18th-century house, that was occupied by Lady Anne and Andrew Barnard for a short period in c.1800.
Two outbuildings were also discovered, and there are signs of an oak-lined avenue that led to the house and werf.

Click on these links to download information and tour notes relating to Paradise.
Newlands Forest VASSA Notes (2) March 2019
Bosch Documents 1768
Paradise Goodwin 1993

VASSA Journal 35 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol 35

VASSA Journal Vol 35

2019 SEPTEMBER – Vol. 35


An Evaluation of Vernacular Architecture in Lesotho:
Matthew Liechti

Some Aspects of the History of Newlands Village:
Rob Hill



Parliamnet, Cape Town, Tuynhuis


TOPIC: The Africana Art Collection at Parliament
SPEAKER: Lila Komnick

Lila Komnick, one of our Vernac members, will give an overview of the Africana art collection at Parliament, with an emphasis on artworks and historical photographs that depict the built environment in Cape Town and further afield in the Cape Colony of the 19thcentury.

Lila Komnick joined Parliament 35 years ago as a Hansard reporter, with a BA Hons in Journalism from the University of Stellenbosch. Thereafter she was a Parliamentary procedural adviser for some years. For the past decade, after attaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Heritage Management, she has managed the Artworks Office of Parliament, which looks after the institution’s large collection of artworks, historical photographs and other heritage items.



Houses of Parliament, Cape Town


LOCATION: Parliament with an emphasis on its heritage aspects and art collections
LEADER: Lila Komnick

The tour of the Houses of Parliament proved to be very interesting and was thoroughly enjoyed by those who were able to attend.

We visited the original chamber which served the Parliament of the Cape Colony and which is now the dining hall, the Previous Assembly Chamber, designed by Sir Herbert Baker and the current Assembly.


2019 JULY 

LOCATION: The Caledon District – Vaalplaas, Dieprivier
Anton Roux, Avril Paterson

The outing took place in perfect weather, starting off with a visit to Vaalplaas, where we were met by Mr. & Mrs. Lampie Fick, whose family have farmed here for 200 years. Lampie Fick was a well known farmer, businessman and politician and, latterly, author of the book ‘In die koelte van Eergister’ which traces the history of the family and its connections to the Caledon area.
We were taken to see the ruins of the original longhouse and then went on the look over the extensive ruins of the Victorian werf where there are plans to do some restoration work.

From here we went on to Dieprivier farm on the road to Genadendal.
This proved to be fascinating with the remains of the old mill and the mill race as well as a very interesting farmhouse.
Dieprivier was granted in 1833 to Antonie Keyter and it then included an older house. The gable is dated 1821, and the house is one of the very few houses that date from those early days in the Caledon district.
The house is entered between the wings of the incomplete H-shaped house, possibly an early alteration.
The kitchen and the access to the attic all held tantalising clues of changes made over time. Including original doors, a pair of muurkaste and a nineteenth century fireplace.
It is unusual in not having a front gable, but rather elaborate end gables which, also unusually, are dated.
Hans Fransen refers to two muurkaste with curved tops in the voorkamer. The entrance has been moved and is now between the two parallel wings.


John Cornell - Adaptive Re-use in Normandy

2019 JULY 

TOPIC: Exploring the buildings of Normandy: Adaptive Re-use
SPEAKER: John Cornell

Finding new uses for historic buildings is a critical aspect in considering how they might be retained. In South Africa the adaptive re-use of historic buildings, particularly vernacular buildings which are not located in busy urban areas, is a particular concern. Maintaining the identity and character of the original building is very important as it changes use.

John Cornell’s look at the way this has been done in Normandy.  In his illustrated talk, he will explain how he suddenly found himself working in France (for 10 years!) and how, with weekends free and his family still in Cape Town, he began to explore the Normandy countryside and do some detective work on the many buildings he came across.

These are now no longer used in their respective original roles, but have been repurposed and re-used in a variety of imaginative ways. The examples he found range from some (rather surprising) small buildings to châteaux and even abbeys, all with a lot of history behind them!
You are encouraged to be present at our July meeting to see and hear this unusual and informative presentation!

John Cornell — a member of VASSA for several years now — is a Particle Accelerator Physicist, with a scientist’s curiosity for his surroundings and their history.



VASSA 50th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure (2014) - A Look Back

VASSA 50th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure (2014) – A Look Back

A Look Back at VASSA’s 50 years of ”Vernacking”.

Contents include

  • Can vernacular be restored?:Hans Fransen
  • Reading the structure of old Cape buildings: Dirk Visser
  • Recording on the Northern Frontier: Nigel Amschwand & the Bokkeveld Team
    Matjiesfontein: Guido Lugtenburg
    Soutpan: David Glennie
    Lokenburg: André Pretorius
    Little Karoo: Pat & John Kramer, Judy Maguire
  • Different approaches
    Upper Table Valley: Dennis Verschoyle
    Stormsvlei: André Pretorius
    Gains & Losses:
    Scotschekloof, Bo-Kaap: Jim Hislop
    Kalbaskraal, Malmsbury: André van Graan 
    Klaarefontein, Verlorenvlei: James Walton et al
    Coenradenberg, Hopefield: Hans Fransen et al 
    Doornboom, Heidelberg: André Pretorius
  • Mills… and more!

VASSA 50th Anniversary Souvenir

Cape Folk Architecture Exhibition - 40th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure (2004)

Cape Folk Architecture Exhibition – 40th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure (2004)

As a celebration of VASSAs 40th anniversary, the society mounted an exhibition to trace the vernacular architecture tradition of the Western Cape, through the links that exist between need, available materials and indigenous building knowledge.

The exhibition was displayed at the University of Cape Town’s Irma Stern Museum. 
The curators, contributors and organisers were all members of the Vernacular Architecture Society.

The exhibition looked at buildings within the landscape, both natural and man-made, to demonstrate the remarkable synergy that exists between form, materials and location.

Cape Folk Architecture Exhibition (English edition)
Kaapse Volk Architektur Tentoonstelling (Afrikaans edition)

Spolander House in the Bo Kaap by Arthur Elliot (The house still exists)

2019 JUNE

TOPIC: Bo-Kaap – Insights into appropriate and inappropriate new interventions in old places
SPEAKER: Ursula Rigby

Ursula’s talk is based on her recent involvement in the Public Participation Process (PPP) which took place prior to the declaration of the Bo-Kaap Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.
Both the Cape Institute for Architecture (CIfA) and the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP) participated in this process which was extensively covered in the press.

Ursula’s interest in the Bo-Kaap lies in its uniqueness of place which comes as a result of its history, its buildings, the architectural interventions and in the ways in which this space has been managed in the past, and possibilities for the future.

She will present a short history of the area, touching on events and developments that have influenced the Bo-Kaap. She will discuss the early days, the restoration activities undertaken by the City, the push and pull factors which influenced development and formal heritage protections along with the radical changes that have taken place along the edges where it abuts the City and the mountain reserve.

Some of the recent large scale developments in the area must form part of this discussion as these, coupled with protest by residents, have provided the catalyst to accelerate the formalisation of a process which manages all development in this area. 
The City Guideline document states that “Despite some alterations and additions over time, the Bo-Kaap built form has maintained a relatively uniform scale and bulk (with a few exceptions) and the streetscape reads as a coherent whole.

In reality – the Bo-Kaap has changed significantly over the past 60 years and this complicates its built form management. The declaration of the HPOZ is one potentially great step forward, but only if it is followed through with the next important process by which specific and objective guidelines, policies and rules are formulated. This must be done by means of surveying, assessing and identifying resource sites with the involvement of the community.

Ursula Rigby is a professional architect and heritage practitioner who lives and works in Oranjezicht Cape Town. She graduated in architecture at UCT in 1984 and completed an M. Phil in Conservation of the Built Environment in 2016. Her working career began in Revel Fox’s office, thereafter moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean, to Johannesburg in the 1990’s and back to Cape Town in 2010.

Her M.Phil thesis title was Transforming Space and Significance – A Study of the Constitutional Court in SA. The study examined the transferring and transforming of significance in the built environment using the recognisably atypical Constitutional Court precinct in Johannesburg as a case. It explored the way in which society successfully sustains, maintains and even enhances cultural significance where radical modifications occur in the historic built environment

Through her involvement with the Cape Institute for Architecture and the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners, Ursula participated in the public hearing about Heritage Protection in the Bo-Kaap which was arranged by the City and which took place prior to the recent declaration of the Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.

Unfortunately the June Outing to the Bo-Kaap did not take place.Bo-Kaap civic protest

St. Andrew’s Church - altar with the Burne Jones stained glass windows

2019 MAY

LOCATION: Newlands Village
LEADER: Louise van Riet

Our walkabout around Newlands village led by Louise van Riet following her insightful talk, demonstrated both elements of the old, beautifully retained architecture and the impact of gentrification on the scale, grain and character of the area.

Courtesy Jeanne Bull, while at St. Andrew’s Church, a fascinating snippet regarding the stained glass windows was revealed by Rosemary Wallace: “Point of interest is that the three windows on the east wall above the altar are by Burne Jones. They were gifted to the church by Lady Loch whose husband was the Governor of the Cape and they lived at Newlands House. Lady Loch was Gladstone’s daughter”.
The windows were dedicated in August 1912 and are the only examples of the renowned British artist, Edward Burne Jones’ glass in South Africa.

There was a period from the early 1960’s, following the strict implementation of the Group Areas Act, when the great majority of its parishioners, being classified ‘Coloured’, had to leave the area, and this resulted in St Andrew’s having to revert to its earliest situation as part of the parish of St Saviour’s in Claremont from 1 January 1966. Sustained effort by the few older members who could stay, and generous support from newcomers in the decade following, achieved its restoration as an independent parish, now with its own new Rectory, in February 1976.

Original Forresters Arms, Newlands

2019 MAY

TOPIC: Newlands Village – A gentrified landscape?
SPEAKER: Louise van Riet

Louise’s talk, based on the research she undertook for her Master’s dissertation, will start with a short history of the area, examining the development of the village through various formative periods, up to the forced removals of the 1960s that kick-started the gentrification process.
The talk will examine the transformation of the townscape from then to the present, touching on gentrification theories and how Newlands fits in to the model.
Formal unsuccessful conservation attempts over the last 25 years will be discussed, concluding with the present proposed Heritage Protection Overlay Zone that is in the process of being formalised.

Louise’s study focused on the part of the original 1852 subdivision of the Newlands Estate between Governor’s Lane and the stream north-east of Kildare Road, and did not include the Palmboom Road precinct, which has a comparable historical development including forced removals and transformation through gentrification.

Newlands Village
As Hans Fransen points out, “Newlands owes its existence to a ‘Company Garden’. It was at the Nieuwland that Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700 established a garden and a oak plantation. Apart from an ijncreasingly dense zone of habitation along the old wagon road (Newlands Avenue) and later the present Main Road, Newlands, unlike Rondebosch, never developed into a ‘village’. What is known as ‘Newlands Village’, higher up between Main St. and Newlands Avenue, is a 19th century working-class area associated with the breweries that spang up in Newlands because of its pure mountain water. It was largely sub-divided and laid out by L. Cauvin in 1853-56”. (H. Fransen: 2004:111)

Beatrice Law, in her book ‘Papenboom in Newlands’ says that “the Papenboom Estate covered the essentail core of present day Newlands…. [  ] Through the years the brewing industry has been an underlying influence in the development of Newlands. The grant in 1695 by Simon van der Stel of 30 morgen to Rutgert mensing so that he could set up a brewery, was the start. Other breweries followed in the nineteenth century, usually associated with well-to-do owners who lived in the area in gracious homes. Newlands Village, an area of smaller cottages, grew up to house the labour force for the beer industry. Thus the two contrasting eleents of Papenboom and the newlands of today were introduced as a consequence of the brewing activities there”.

Peter Hart identifies the age of Newlands Avenue, saying that “The road itself was part of ‘the wagon road to the forest’ used by van Riebeeck’s foresters. His Journal on 2.08.1653 records: “Resolved therefore to send out carpenters to the above-mentioned large forest and, as there must be a serviceable road for the wagon, to send out the men the day after tomorrow to prepare one”. The first explicit mention of the road comes two years later on 11.09. 1655: “Have sent all the men to the forest today to carry some more beams and planks from the forest out on to the wagon road”. So Newlands Avenue is the second oldest road in the Cape, after the Main Road (as far as Rondebosch).

Louise van Riet is an architect and heritage practitioner who lives and works her solo practice in Newlands. She graduated in architecture at UCT in 1987, and in 2016completed a M.Phil in Conservation of the Built Environment, where the title of her thesis was Gentrified Landscapes and their significance as heritage – the case of Newlands Village, Cape Town

Selected Bibliography:
Beatrice Law (2007). Papenboom in Newlands
Hans Fransen (2004) The Old Buildings of the Cape
James Walton (1978) The Josephine Mill and its owners
Joyce Newton Thompson (1968) The story of a house
Peter Hart (1999) Claremont, Newlands and Bishopcourt street names



2019 APRIL

LOCATION: Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch
SPEAKER: The indefatigable Pat Kramer 

The outing to Jonkershoek took place in perfect autumn sunshine weather. We started out at Jonkershoek farmhouse, which has undergone a number of changes over the years.Traces remain of the old garden layout and some of the outbuildings.
From there we walked on to Assegaaibosch which still retains much of its original fabric, and it beautifully set against the mountain backdrop.
Then it was on to look at the old Trout hatchery which dates back to the late nineteenth century, but has now been abandoned.
Lunch was back in Stellenbosch at the beautiful Botanical Gardens, as lush and as fascinating as ever.

Jonkershoek (formerly called Wynand)
The farm was granted in 1683 to Jan Andriessen. The H-shaped house –or part of it- was built by Pieter Gerhardt Neethling (the grandson of the Neethling who owned Grosvernor House in Stellenbosch) or the previous owner, Jacobus Johannes Albertyn.
The two sections were originally joined by a flat roof. According to Hans Fransen, the older house, probably the work of the Groenewalds who owned the farm I the 1770s, still remains and stands end-to-end with a long outbuilding. All the buildings stand in a long row. The gables were added by the Watermeyer family in 1877. Before that the buildings were half-hipped and thatched. 

Assegaaibosch was granted in 1755 to Gerrit Coetzee who promptly sold it to Pieter Wium. It was bought by Lambert Hendrik Fick in about 1792.
He probably built the house in that year. The dormer gable is a replacement for the gable which was formerly there. Fick was a cousin of Antonie Fick who built the ‘Burgher House’ on the Braak in Stellenbosch.
The front has Georgian woodwork, with two eight-panelled doors with spoke-fans. We will also visit the historic trout hatchery across the road.


Simon Hall

2019 APRIL

TOPIC: The depiction of Tswane home spaces in rock engravings
SPEAKER: Simon Hall

A dominant motif in the rock engraving of southern African Bantu-speaking farmers is the depiction of household and homestead space. In this presentation Simon Hall will focus on rock engravings made by ancestral Southern Tswana-speaking cattle and cereal farmers in the Northern Cape that date to the last 300 years.

“Using ethnographic sources I outline the spatial layout of the Tswana house that is represented in these engravings. As all houses do, the Tswana house provided the physical setting within which domestic work, activity and production took place. This architecture was also the arena of social reproduction, and the Tswana house layout can be ‘read’ as a ‘map’ of activity areas that underpinned the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.
It is against this background that I discuss the question as to why people engraved plans of Tswana households. I suggest that the act of representing their houses took place in the context of female initiation and their transformation into the responsibilities of adulthood.
Additionally, and most important to the question of what motivated people to explicitly depict the Tswana house, is the 18th and 19th century historical context that increasingly placed pressure on the social relationships that underpinned the stability of Tswana households”.

Simon Hall is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at UCT. His research focus is in the sub-field of Historical Archaeology, a multi-disciplinary area that combines material culture, text and oral evidence. He works on the recent history of Sotho-Tswana-speakers and on the interface between the Colonial and indigenous worlds through the 18th and 19th centuries, with a growing focus on change and continuity in Khoe, San and coloniser identity on the Northern Cape frontier.

Glossary of Objects and Words used in 18th and early 19th century Cape Inventories (draft)

Glossary of Objects and Words used in 18th and early 19th century Cape Inventories (draft)

Glossary of objects and words used in 18th and early 19th century Cape inventories:
Antonia Malan

Read more

Paradise, Newlnds Forrest

2019 MARCH

TOPIC: Timber, waterworks & the homestead at Paradise
Antonia Malan

From Newlands Forrest the route will take us past the fire-fighting helicopters to the Upper Manson Road graveyard, then up to what is believed to be a VOC-period timber slide (lime plastered stone path).
We will attempt to trace its full extent and take GPS readings.
After that we cross over a stone-built causeway with interesting geological features and remnants of late 19th century waterworks, and onwards to the ruins of Paradise and a lookout post (c.1720-1820).

This was the site of the chief forester’s home, with terraced gardens and outbuildings for horses, slaves, soldiers and woodcutters. (Lady Anne and Mr Andrew Barnard stayed there for a few months.)
Then it’s downhill along the old wagon road all the way back to our cars, passing the derelict wood-and-iron pumphouse, Pixie Littlewort’s education centre an d the public toilet.

Once a military outpost on the frontier of European settlement at the Cape, Paradise became the home of woodcutters, soldiers and slaves. People lived there between about 1720 and 1820. The site included a homestead, outbuildings and garden that would have produced fresh foods such as fruit and vegetables and provided shelter for fowls and small stock.

The buildings and the rubbish that inhabitants threw away were rediscovered through archaeological excavations during the 1980s. Research at Paradise is by no means complete, but some of the exposed features are kept open for people to see. However, they are extremely vulnerable to weather, plant roots and wear and tear from visitors


2019 MARCH

TOPIC: Unearthing the past:  The recording of Groot Zeekoegat – Trekboer farmhouse to artist’s retreat
LEADERS: The project team members who measured up the ruins of the farmhouse outside Molteno that formerly belonged to the artist Johannes Meintjes, consisted of Lita Webley, the intrepid project coordinator; Anton Roux, who drew up the plans of the ruins and coordinated the measuring up; Pat and John Kramer- the latter our photographer; Karen Strom and Andre van Graan. We also had input into our research from Judy Maguire.

In September 2019 a group of members set off to Molteno in the Eastern Cape to undertake a recording of the ruins of the farmhouse on the farm Groot Zeekoegat. The house dated from the early 19th century, possibly earlier and had been a typical Trekboer structure, built of stone and opgekleide walls, originally under thatch.

It became the home of the Meintjes family and underwent a transformation in the hands of the artist Johannes Meintjes who returned to the house as a young man in the late 1940s and remained there until his death. His artistic output was intertwined with the house and the landscape. He felt part of this vast, often forbidding countryside.

After his death, his widow remained there for a while before returning to town life and the house gradually succumbed to the forces of nature and the destructive hand of people.

We who went there sensed the haunting presence of the open veld and the distant koppies.
We will share our experience of our recording trip with you and show the extensive research that was undertaken to bring the farmhouse back to life, albeit only on paper.

The project was initiated and sponsored by Keith Meintjes, a distant relative of the artist.




Vernon Terrace, District Six, pre demolition


LOCATION: District Six – The early estates and homesteads
LEADER: 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.

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,  try out JC Brasserie in De Villiers Street 

Opening picture: Welgelegen in Vernon Terrace shortly before demolition, and below its site today
(Photo: Jan Nieuwmeijer)

Vernon Terrace, District Six, after demolition




TOPIC: Behind the Castle – Early estates & homesteads of 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.  

Jim Hislop, born and educated in Cape Town and VASSA member who 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.

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. The book is for  ale. Cost: R350



VASSA Journal 34

VASSA Journal Vol.34

VASSA Journal Vol.34

NOVEMBER 2018 – Vol. 34



A tribute to Dr Hans Fransen (1931-2017)

The harmonius vernacular: Hans Fransen

Speech for my Dad’s celebration of life: Kari Longman

Doyen and doyenne of conservation, Hans Fransen (86) and Marie-Lou Roux (87), pass away: Marthinus van Baart

Assessing some of J.H. Pierneef’s artworks to reconstruct the history of a vernacular dwelling: Mauritz Naudé

A possible candidate for the introduction of corbelled buildings into South Africa: Nigel Amschwand

Articles by Hans Fransen, published by VASSA



TOPIC: Cape Town City Hall 
The illustrated talk looks at Cape Town’s iconic City Hall which has recently undergone extensive restoration under the watchful eye of John Rennie’ practice, Rennie Scurr Adendorff Architects.
SPEAKER: John Rennie

The plans for a new building on Caledon Square were first mooted in 1887- the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
The design of the City Hall was the outcome of a competition held in 1893 and won by the Johannesburg architects, Reid & Green. The design required a considerable amount of re-organisation and, as a result of the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, construction only got way towards the end of the war, with final completion in 1905.

Desiree Picton-Seymour describes the building as”the last major Victorian building to be erected in Cape Town”. She goes on to say that in design it is similar to other city halls being erected throughout the British Empire in the late Victorian era, with Leeds City Hall as the finest prototype.
Fransen goes on to say: “Its fuzzy details show French Renaissance influence, Its all-over and not unpleasing composition that of Louis XIV French or Dutch Classicism”.

In the 1947 Foreshore Plan there was a proposal to demolish the City Hall and to replace it with a modern building that was aligned with the proposed ‘Gateway to Africa’ at the harbour with an open vista through the space now occupied by Artscape.
Prior to this, with pressure on the city for more civic space there was also a proposal to make a rather ungainly addition to the top of the building! Fortunately, nothing came of this proposal.

John Rennie, a past chairman of VASSA and a highly esteemed architect, is a UCT graduate and former senior lecturer who has worked in general practice, with a bias towards conservation, in Cape Town and beyond. He’s been responsible for work to several important Cape homesteads as well as various city halls and the landmark Gilbert Scott Cathedral of St Michael and St George in his birthplace Grahamstown.
After graduating he assisted Gawie Fagan for four years and was with Revel Fox & Partners as a partner before attending the University of York Conservation Studies’ full-time post-graduate course, where he was the first South African to gain Diploma.

As compiler of the 1978 Cape Institute of Architects “Buildings of Central Cape Town” survey John has participated in the forefront of local building stocktaking and policy development for historic buildings and also contributed to the recently published “Walking Long Street.”
His practice Rennie Scurr Adendorff, has acted as principal agent on major civic and state projects, such as the Cape Archives, SAHRA’s head office, the East London City Hall, The conversion of the Drill Hall into the City library, Vergelegen homestead in Somerset West and, of course, the City Hall here in Cape Town.



Riversdale and Heidelberg District, 28 – 30 September 2018

Venues visited were Suurbraak, Lismore (Koetsersvlei), Grootvadersbosch, Slangrivier, De Doornkraal, Ou Tronk, Zeekoegat (home of Bool Smuts), Krombeksrivier, Doornboom.

Riversdale walking tour was led by Pieter Steyn, and included a walkabout of the Julius Gordon Africana Centre by curator Louise du Plessis.
People encountered – live or dead: Barry family, Moodie family. 

Notes compiled by Pat Kramer, Nigel Amschwand with photos by John Kramer 




TOPIC: Stofbergsfontein and Churchhaven on the Langebaan Lagoon: the challenge of accommodating change while maintaining a special way of life
SPEAKER: Jane Prinsloo

Churchaven house
Image: Courtesy Stellenbosch University

Stofbergsfontein – and its better-known sister village of Churchhaven – developed during the 1800s and 1900s as small fishing villages along the western side of the Langebaan Lagoon. 
The community developed a way of living that was marked by modesty, self-reliance and environmental sustainability.  hey built their own homes using local materials, grew their own gardens, gathered veldkos, hunted and fished.
They built their own church and a one-room school house. Due to a combination of relative isolation, modest resources, a love for the way of life… And probably the fact that the farm was owned collectively by a number of families with no individual titles to land … the community changed little over the years.

Graham Jacobs has described the architecture of the village as “modest”, and observes “Stofbergsfontein and Churchhaven are both rare surviving historically ‘layered’ fishing settlements of considerable local historical significance, retaining high levels of authentic period fabric” built largely during the early and mid- 19th century.
In the mid-1980s,  the South African Government initiated a process to acquire the farm Stofbergsfontein as the keystone of the proposed West Coast National Park. The sale was agreed in 1991.
Importantly, a key element of the Sale Agreement was protection of the existing villages and adoption of a set of Design Guidelines to direct all future new building,  as well as any alterations to existing structures. The intent was to “embrace and protect the distinctive historic character and ambiance of the area” (Environmental Management Plan). The Sale Agreement, the EMP and the Design Guidelines are part of the legal documentation establishing the West Coast National Park.

Image: Courtesy Stellenbosch University

Jane Prinsloo is a retired urban planner who has had the privilege and joy of spending considerable time over the past 40 years in the village of Stofbergsfontein. Jane has a cottage at the lagoon and is a member of the Homeowners’ Association Plans Review Team which is charged with ensuring that all building is in line with the DGL.
In her talk Jane will discuss the challenges of protecting the quality of the built environment in a world of changing needs and expectations.  



LOCATION: Stofbergsfontein, Churchaven, Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast National Park
LEADER: Jane Prinsloo

We will meet at Jane Prinsloo’s house in Stofbergsfontein down to the beach; then walk along the beach to see the lagoon-view of the village  and along to the north end of the village.
We will then walk back through the village, visiting the little community museum and one of the traditional fishing cottages along the way.
From there we’ll walk back to Jane’s cottage where we’ll have our picnic lunches. The walk would take about 2 1/2 hours.
A visit to the Church and cemetery would be another 20 minutes. After lunch you will be free to explore the park, maybe drive to Geelbek to see the house or have a coffee.

VASSA Journal 33 cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 33

VASSA Journal Vol. 33

NOVEMBER 2017 – Vol. 33


In this issue

A brief history of the development of Barrydale – Stephen Dugmore



LOCATION: Private home, Somerset West
LEADER: Dirkie Neethling & Barry Anderson

The outing focuses on two aspects of our vernacular heritage, namely: building a vernacular house in the late 20th century and a collection of Cape furniture.

We will be looking at the Cape house that Dirkie Neethling built in Somerset West in 1987 using recycled materials. He will give a short talk in Afrikaans on the actual building of the house.
Then Barry Anderson will give an illustrated talk on two items of Cape furniture in the house.


1847, Nigel Amschwand,


TOPIC:  How archival research can provide context to vernacular buildings
SPEAKER: Nigel Amschwand


Nigel’s talk will present the various archival sources that were used to research his book ‘1847 Dispossession and Migration’.  He examined the story of three farms in his book, each with a fascinating story to tell. The farms are: Moordenaarsgat; Ongeluksfontein and the former Rhenish mission station De Tuin. The first two have particularly ominous sounding names!

The talk will focus on the research methods that Nigel used, rather than the story – for that you will have to buy the book! Nigel points out that by using historical records it sometime possible to determine occupation dates of buildings. These records include: loan farm records, title deeds, lease contracts, tax records, wills, Government Notices and general correspondence such as memorials, letters of complaint etc.
The book will be on sale at the talk at a significantly discounted price of R150,00. 

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Nigel Amschwand
Our speaker, Nigel Amschwand, is a long-standing member of the Vernacs and served on the committee as treasurer for a number of years. An engineer by training, Nigel has a great enthusiasm for our vernacular past, with an interest in the old routes as well as the histories of the families that populated the often remote reaches of the Cape hinterland.
He has also organised many measuring up trips with an intrepid group of members, including among others, the late Guido Lugtenburg who recorded the surveys in beautiful detail.
Their survey of Matjesfontein farm has been published in an earlier VASSA journal. Nigel is also the author of ‘Short history of the Onder-Bokkeveld, which was published in 2009.



TOPIC:  Wupperthal, an object of people and place
SPEAKER: Marike Franklin


In an increasingly homogenised world, unique cultural landscapes form the basis for national identity. Wupperthal is a place that reflects an intimate relationship between man and nature and stands as an object within the landscape.
It is one of the best-preserved mission stations in the Western Cape that still functions as an active community under the administration of the Church.To conserve Wupperthal as a cultural landscape, it needs to continue as a working mission station and adapt to changes associated with technology and development.

The approach was that the land ‘speaks its own language’ and would reveal possibilities rather than suffer under forced intentions. According to UNESCO, assessment criteria for cultural landscapes still need to be developed and tested, therefore a combination of methods was used. The main literature review was centered around ‘the value of the land’ that gives rise to a series of obligations. The obligations informed the design process while the fieldwork connected embedded narratives of land to physical links and requirements. The methodology include documentary, oral and physical mapping. Each mapped feature was tested for their significance per the value criteria that the authors developed based on the literature review.

Value in Wupperthal was found in the vulnerable, the unexpected and the coincidental. The functional needs of the town called for the preservation of the historic nodes and their amplification or framing.
In the in-between moments, the everyday life of the people of Wupperthal are celebrated and made tangible. This led to the exploration of new typologies for ablution structures and a rooibos drying platform. The proposal aims to balance sensitivity to the internal logic of the vernacular landscape with the boldness required to ensure the longevity of the town over time.

Marike Franklin
Marike Franklin is a Candidate Landscape Architect (SACLAP). She completed her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture in 2015 at the University of Pretoria. Her dissertation titled: Wupperthal, the Preservation of Absence, explored the challenges associated with development and conservation in the historic town of Wupperthal. She joined the CWPPA (Cape Winelands Professional Practices in Association) team in January 2017, where she is currently assisting in the compilation of a heritage inventory for the Stellenbosch Municipality.




LOCATION: Clift Granite Works, Paarl
LEADER: Nigel Amschwand

We will be visitng the granite works which supplied granite to a number of important public buildings in Cape Town. The cutting of granite still follows an age-old tradition.

After the visit, which will last about an hour and a half, it is suggested that you could consider popping in at “De Poort” – the cart and wagon museum. It gives background history to the story of how the cart/ wagon business thrived in Paarl during the 19th and early 20th centuries (a bit like the Togryers in Ceres, but different).
It is very nearby to Clift’s (Clift’s made a donation of very nice granite cobbles to the museum).

The intrinsic beauty of stone and the honesty of the craft of the stonemason can be traced through four generations of the Clift family. Founded in 1906 by James Andrew Clift of Cornish descent, the name J A Clift (Pty) Ltd has become synonymous with quality in the granite industry.

Very soon after James Andrew Clift started out on his own as “J.A. Clift Granite Works and Monumental Masons”, he was awarded the contract to cut and erect the granite work for the historic Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town. With the unprecedented growth of the company, it became necessary to acquire a new granite source. His search led him to the natural splendor of the Paarl valley, where the Clift family hired a quarry site on the De Hoop farm. J.A. Clift Granite Works grew in stature and it was decided in 1939 to form a privately held company – leading to the formation of J.A. Clift (Pty) Ltd, Granite & Marble Contractors and Monumental Masons. Many historical contracts followed, including the Australian Mutual Building, the Old Mutual, the General Post Office, the parliament and the Franschhoek Huguenot memorial.

J.A. Clift: the man
James Andrew Clift was born on 17 October 1868 in Mousehole, a small fishing village on Mounts Bay near Penzance. The town’s granite cottages and granite pier, built in 1870 by the local quarry owners, reflect the overall availability of granite as a building stone.
James Andrew was the second youngest son of John Andrew and Elizabeth Matthews Clift. In 1895 James Andrew moved to Cape Town and was working at the Higgo Quarry in Kloof Neck. At the time the quarry employed as many as 120 masons.
Cape Town was growing rapidly and with an ever increasing demand for more buildings, ample work for the city’s stonemasons. James Andrew decided to settle permanently at the Cape and in 1896 he sent for his family. A few months later his wife Caroline, now 28 years old, arrived in Cape Town with their two children: John Andrew (6) and Linda (5). The following year a second son Karl was born.

1899 saw the outbreak of the South African War, and James Andrew, unwilling to be caught up in the war in a foreign country, booked a passage for his young family back to Cornwall.
In 1906 James Andrew begins a correspondence Bellevue Quarry regarding a supply of granite for the Rhodes Memorial. In a letter dated 13th March 1906 they agree to a total order of 26,000 cubic feet of granite to be delivered at a rate of 2,000 cubic feet a month to the top of Kloof Street.

The granite used in the Rhodes Memorial is not “Paarl Grey”, but a coarse grained granite similar to that quarried at the Higgo Quarry. Dr Doug Cole, writer of “Building Stones of Cape Town” believes that the Bellevue Quarry lay a little further down the slopes of Table Mountain, closer to the city, in the vicinity of the present day Bellevue Street.

The Rhodes Memorial contract was James Andrew’s first large project as an independent contractor.
To lift the heavy granite blocks that would be required to build the memorial’s granite temple, steps and terraces, James Andrew imported a new wooden crane. Stoltenhoff’s first delivery of granite from the Belllevue quarry was paid on 19th May 1906. That same month, in conjunction with the money forwarded by McKillop to finance the work, he also received money from the Corporation of the City of Cape Town for granite spawls he had sold to them, and from Salt River Cement Works for granite chips. The spawls would have been used to rework for pavements and kerbstone, while granite chips would be used as cement aggregate.
All information on the company from their website: 

2017 JULY

2017 JULY

TOPIC:  Undertaking the Swartland Rural Heritage Survey
SPEAKER: André Pentz

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Images from Alex Dodge and The Swartland Rural Heritage Survey by Andre Pentz  

Andre Pentz prepared the Swartland Rural Heritage Survey in 2014.The survey has helped enormously to identify the range of historical buildings in the area including many previously unknown farms and farm complexes.
Since the report documents the farms in some detail it has highlighted a number of farms which had not been previously recorded.
For VASSA, this has been of enormous benefit and will make the potential identification and recognition of the vernacular landscape so much easier- and assists greatly with planned outings.
André will speak on the way that the survey was undertaken.

The survey forms part of a series of inventories done as part of a Rural Heritage Survey, for the seven rural wards of the Swartland Municipality: The findings of the report are intended to provide guidance to the Municipality and other authorities in the assessment of heritage significance of rural buildings.

The structures identified as having potential heritage significance are generally those that are older than 60 years in age i.e. structures that were built before 1955, which may include structures to which later additions or alterations have been made.

André Pentz
André Pentz is registered with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) and SACPLAN (South African Council of Planners), is a member of UDISA (Urban Design Institute of South Africa) and APHP (Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners).
He has over 30 years of experience working as a built environment professional, including 15 years as a heritage practitioner.
He works in partnership with Andrew Berman in the practice Pentz & Berman and also Urban Design Services cc.
André has prepared a number of heritage surveys of both urban and rural areas which have been of major importance in the location and identification of buildings of significance in these areas.

2017 JULY

2017 JULY

LOCATION: Four Farms, The Darling District
LEADER: Pat Kramer

None of the four are showcase houses – they are on working farms and lived in by families.
As such they reveal all the problems of living in an old building while keeping up the constant maintenance. They should be of great interest to all Vernacs.

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The Towers (From The Swartland Rural Heritage Survey by Andre Pentz)

We will meet at the Groote Post turnoff on the R27 and we should finish by mid-afternoon.
Bring a picnic lunch. Be prepared for rainy conditions!

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Cottage at Waylands (From The Swartland Rural heritage Survey by Andre Pentz)

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Farmhouse at Waylands (From The Swartland Rural Heritage Survey by Andre Pentz)

Sharon Barry-Taylor has offered to coordinate lifts for both those offering a lift and those needing a lift.  This should cater for those who do not wish to drive far out of the city, whilst at the same time cutting fuel costs and Sharon will work out what each person in the car should pay towards the trip.

Sharon writes:
“It will help to make our trips economical & I would like to work on a calculation of cost per km so that it would be fairly accurate on ongoing current prices. I am on Whatsapp 076 562 8151 which would be useful to communicate on as it is cheap & we could form groups who take turns in areas where we live.
My home phone number is 021 671 1387-  there is an answering machine after 4 rings & I am prepared to phone back after 7 pm or at a weekends when I get free calls”.


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2017 JUNE

TOPIC: Using ‘heritage’ to protect public spaces from inappropriate re-purposing: The case of Green Point Common
SPEAKER:  Antonia Malan

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The City of Cape Town is the custodian of Green Point Common, which was granted to the citizens of Cape Town in 1923 by King George V. At that time the Commonage covered 135 morgen (116 ha) and was used for sporting activities, recreation, parades and pasturage for cattle and horses. It already had international renown, from the Anglo-Boer War, and the area boasts several heritage sites.

Over time, it was more formally divided into precincts and stadia for sports clubs, and from the 1950s segregated facilities were enforced according to apartheid laws. But by the 1990s the Common had become run-down due to general neglect, poor controls over lessees and creeping development.


2017 MAY

TOPIC: Documenting Deep History: The Olifants-Doorn River Water Resources Project:
The raising of Clanwilliam Dam: Heritage Mitigation
SPEAKER: Wouter Fourie

The Clanwilliam Dam was commissioned in the early 1930s after it was found that the Van Rhynsdorp District irrigation scheme commissioned in 1923 could not provide sufficient water for scheduled irrigation during summer months. 
The Clanwilliam Dam, with a capacity of 69,86 million m3 was commissioned in 1935.  Water shortage still occurred sporadically, and in 1962 the Department of Water Affairs decided to raise the Clanwilliam Dam and the new dam wall was commissioned in 1965.
Water needs and climatic changes lead to the Department of Water and Sanitation initiating various studies to investigate a 2nd raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall, which included an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) commissioned in 2005.

The Heritage Impact Assessment completed as part of the EIA, identified an extensive and temporal deep heritage landscape, consisting of Rock Art, Stone Age sites, Historical sites, historical industrial-related structures and landscape vistas. To mitigate the impact of the raising of the Dam wall and the subsequent seasonal inundation of such heritage features, the Report recommended a set of measures to be implemented before inundation.

The main measures included:

  1. The relocation of two rock art panels;
  2. Documentation of 29 rock art sites;
  3. Excavation and documentation of 11 Stone Age Sites;
  4. Excavation and recording of 10 historical structures and complexes of structures;
  5. Mapping and documentation of the original Old Cape road;
  6. Relocation of 60 graves from four historic cemeteries;
  7. Documentation of oral history around the dam; and
  8. Documentation of the cultural landscape.

This talk will provide a background to the project with specific attention to:

  1. Developing of a methodology for documenting such an immense landscape;
  2. Putting together and managing a multi-disciplinary team
  3. The identification, excavation and documentation of historic complexes.
  4. Incorporating archival documentation in their interpretation and using oral history as confirmatory evidence of interpretation.
  5. Relocation of the rock art;
  6. Relocation of graves – closing and renewing family histories. Providing closure to families that have moved away from their ancestral farms and in other cases providing renewed family bonds with the ancestral farms;
  7. Identifying further research opportunities through fieldwork.

Wouter Fourie

Wouter Fourie is a Director and one of the founding members of PGS Heritage. He has been involved in Heritage Resources Management for the past 19 years acting as a specialist consultant on various high profile projects involving heritage and archaeology. He has served as project manager on more than 500 heritage impact assessments and grave relocation projects for various environmental consultants, engineering firms, mining companies and developers all over Southern Africa. He has also worked on heritage projects in Botswana, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wouter holds a BA (Hon) (Cum Laude) in Archaeology and is currently engaged in an MPhil in the Conservation of the Built Environment at UCT.

His primary expertise covers Heritage impact management and project analysis, Archaeological input in surveys, mitigation and management, Grave Relocation management and consultation, Historical Research, GIS management and technical liaisons.

Wouter is accredited by the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP) as a Professional Heritage Practitioner, Amafa and ASAPA as a Professional Archaeologist and has CRM grading as a Principal Investigator in Grave Relocations and Field Director in Iron Age.

MARCH TALK & AGM 2017 (21 March 2017)

MARCH TALK & AGM 2017 (21 March 2017)

TOPIC: AGM & Quiz: Testing your vernacular architecture knowledge!
DATE:  Tuesday, 21st March 2017 (Human Rights Day)
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

A reminder that our annual AGM takes place this Tuesday (21st) and it is imperative that you attend to hear the reports of the various committee members, and to elect new officials.

After the VASSA AGM we will be having a fun quiz based on vernacular architecture. Nigel Amschwand, assisted by Pat Kramer, has designed a devilishly tricky quiz designed to test everyone’s knowledge.  The format is multiple choice and in teams of 4, which means that everyone is in with a good chance to win a bottle of wine.

After the quiz, we will adjourn to the dining room for our usual post-AGM wine and snacks party

FEBRUARY TALK (21 Feb 2017)

FEBRUARY TALK (21 Feb 2017)

TOPIC: The impact of new development proposals on the historic fabric of the Bo Kaap
SPEAKER:  Prof. Fabio Todeschini
DATE:  Tuesday, 21st February 2017
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Prof. Fabio Todeschini will be discussing the controversial new development that recently was approved by the Mayor despite the numerous objections that were made. The scale of the development will have a significant impact on the historic fabric of the city, both on Riebeeck Square and on the Bo Kaap. Developments such as these are driven by developers looking to financial gain and will have a very negative impact on the city.

Fabio Todeschini
Our speaker, Fabio Todeschini Fabio Todeschini is a professional architect, city planner, urban designer, heritage practitioner and an academic. He is a past Director of the School of Architecture and Planning at University of Cape Town. He is an Emeritus Professor at UCT. He currently leads a China-South Africa research project: ‘Towards Liveable, Sustainable and Low Carbon Urban Settlements: lessons learnt from a comparative morphological and structural analysis of the cities of Wuhan, China and Cape Town, South Africa’.

Talks are free of charge and open to members of the public. All welcome! 



LOCATION: Riebeeck & Heritage Squares
LEADER: André van Graan


We will meet on Riebeeck Square on the corner of Shortmarket and Bree Street from where we will be looking at the historical fabric on and surrounding the square. This will give a valuable insight into the impact that the proposed development on Buitengracht will have on this precinct.
As part of our tour we will also be looking at the portion to the north of Riebeeck Square which is known as Heritage Square. This block was restored under the aegis of, amongst others, the late David van den Heever, an active member and former Chair of the Vernacs.



Photo: Western Cape Archives & Records Service 

During the seventeenth century Cape Town expanded for the most part from the sea towards Table Mountain, along the axis of the Heerengracht or Adderley Street.
During the eighteenth century it began to fill Table Valley. This square was situated on the outermost street of the City, on Buitengracht Street. It was first known as “Boeren Plijn”, then as “Hottentot Plijn and finally as Riebeeck Square. These three names reflect the history of the square.

In the olden days the roads from the interior joined at a point somewhere east of the Castle and the wagons with their long spans of oxen all had to pass through a tollgate.
At first the farmers outspanned their wagons anywhere, but soon they had to be properly controlled.
They trekked past the Castle and up Sea Street (now Strand Street) to this large square, which thus acquired the name of “Boeren Plijn.

However, inroads were made on the Square during the first British occupation of the Cape. In the middle of the square on the Bree Street side stands South Africa’s first theatre, originally known as The African Theatre.
lt was designed by the architect Louis Thibault and built in 1801 by Sir George Yonge.
Lady Anne Barnard often visited this theatre.
Today it is a Dutch Reformed Church known as St. Stephens; the balcony and stage can still be seen.

Meanwhile the square lost its original function and name. In 1812 a new market was established immediately east of the Castle where the farmers now outspanned their wagons and conducted their business.
The “Boeren Plijn” gradually became known as Hottentot Square, a name, which appeared for the first time on a plan of Cape Town, prepared by Geo Thompson in 1827.

In the 1860’s it was re-named Riebeeck Square in honour of the Dutch commander of the VOC settlement of the Cape. By this time, too, it had become much smaller and, to prevent any further encroachments, it was proclaimed as a national monument on l7th February 1961.



Exploring the Vernacular Architecture of Cannaland, 11-14 November 2016

Venues visited: In Oudtshoorn – Church St suspension bridge that is a National Monument, CP Nel Museum, Montagu House, Pinehurst, Mimosa Lodge, St Jude’s Anglican church, Queen St synagogue, Oudtshoorn Freemason Lodge, Dorpshuis Museum, Ou Pastorie, SH Adley Bank building, Dutch Reformed church, Foster’s Manor.  

Beyond Oudsthoorn: Doornkraal, Hazenjacht, Middelplaas, Mons Ruber, Zeekoegat, Heimersrivier,  
Herold, the Montagu Pass crossing the Outeniqua, Klipdrift (Zebra), De Kombys, Boomplaas, Volmoed Kliplokasie, Calitzdorp Dorpshuis. 

Notes compiled by Judy Maguire and Pat Kramer.




TOPIC: The farm Elandsberg in the Roggeberg
SPEAKER:  Nigel Amschwand
DATE:  Tuesday, 15th November 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads


Nigel Amschwand will speak on the history of the farm in the Sutherland district which the Vernacs surveyed last year. The farm Elandsberg is located on the Riet River and was granted to Andries van der Walt in January 1766. The T-shaped stone-built farmhouse still survives although in poor condition, along with several outbuildings and a stone-walled kraal.

The full report on Elandsberg has been published in the latest VASSA Journal.

Nigel Amschwand

Our speaker, Nigel Amschwand, is a long-standing member of the Vernacs and served on the committee as treasurer for a number of years. An engineer by training, Nigel has a great enthusiasm for our vernacular past, with an interest in the old routes as well as the histories of the families that populated the often remote reaches of the Cape hinterland. He has also organised many measuring up trips with an intrepid group of members, including among others, the late Guido Lugtenburg who recorded the surveys in beautiful detail. Their survey of Matjesfontein farm has been published in an earlier VASSA journal. Nigel has published in the VASSA Journal on several occasions and is also the author of the book ‘A short history of the Onder-Bokkeveld’.



LOCATION: Bokbaai, West Coast
LEADER: John Duckitt

John Duckitt will lead us on a tour of this historic farm which belonged to the Duckitt family for many decades.Our hosts for the day are the Mapula Trust and the Parker family, the current owners.



Bokbaai photograph by André Pretorius (Gericke Collection University of Stellenbosch

The land was originally granted in quitrent  to Laurens Johannes and Jacobus Petrus de Jongh; with the accompanying survey dated 1827. However, according to Hans Fransen, its history goes back to the early days of the VOC when the house possibly served as the home of the supervisor of the lime kiln that operated from here from the early 18th century together with accommodation for labourers.
This long T-shaped house with a simple holbol gable and an attached outbuilding lies close to the sea.
From 1870 until fairly recently it belonged to the Duckitt family. 

We are invited to picnic (there is some shade, hats and /or umbrellas probably a good idea) and to swim in what is apparently a very pleasant bay. So swimming is encouraged by the Parker family!

VASSA Journal 32

VASSA Journal Vol. 32

VASSA Journal Vol. 32

NOVEMBER 2016 – Vol. 32



In this Issue

Farmhouse at Klaasvoogds Rivier – Elize Joubert


OCTOBER 2016 -TALK (18 Oct)

TOPIC: The old hotels of Cape Town 1890-1911

SPEAKER: Michael Walker

DATE:  Tuesday, 18th October 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Mike Walker will give an illustrated talk on the old hotels of Cape Town, most of which live only in records and personal memories. As the ‘Tavern of the Seas’ the old lodging houses and subsequently hotels helped to shape Cape Town’s identity.

In 1906 there were 160 licensed drinking places in Cape Town including hotels, taverns, inns and bottle stores. The link between hotels, a license and a bed for the night was much deplored by the temperance movement who argued that “billiards and brandy, the two curses of Cape Town prevail”. His recent book, “The old hotels of Cape Town”, is a sequel to his 2012 publication on the “Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings”, Michael has researched the architecture and the architects of these late 19th and early 20th century hotels and in many instances takes the story on to the later more recent history of these many establishments. Many of these hotels, both major and minor reflected the vogue for the ornate, decorative style of Art Nouveau design.

Only two of those many hotels of the era remain in their original form and function and hence the sub title about this history being forgotten or seldom told.

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street and the old London Hotel that was demolished in the late 19th century

Michael Walker

Our speaker, Michael Walker,  has published on a wide range of subjects with his latest being a focus on the early hotels of Cape Town, the subject of his talk to the Vernacs.

Michael was born- and still lives in St James. He was schooled at Bishops, where he matriculated in 1957, and then furthered his education at UCT graduating with a B.Com. degree. He then embarked on a three-year career with the merchant navy. Starting out as a greaser-cleaner with Union Castle, he eventually ended as an assistant purser with Safmarine.  His interest in ships grew and it was the sinking of his ship while on leave that aroused his interest in shipwrecks, the theme of three of his books. The SA Seafarer sank at Mouille Point on 1 July 1966. This signified the end of his seafaring career and seeded ideas for his future foray in writing.

His first book was called, Shipwrecks of the Far South. This was followed by Hard Aground: Memorable Shipwrecks of the Western Cape andForgotten Shipwrecks of the Western Cape.

Following this, Michael opened up a fibreglass business with a partner. It became one of the biggest fibreglass companies to supply rainwater products in SA. At the age of 55 he decided to retire, and to keep himself occupied he turned to research and writing history, which was his favourite subject.

Architecture is another of his interests and a wish to find out the history of his own home led to his writing the book, A Statement in Stone: The architects and their buildings 1897-1927 at Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and St James which is now in its 2nd edition.

Michael followed this with a number of books, among them  St James, a Place of Dreams 1810-2010, co-authored with Derek Stuart-Findlay.

VASSA talks are free and open to the public.



LOCATION: The Town of Worcester 
LEADER: Julian Kritzinger

Julian Kritzinger will lead us on an extensive tour around the town explaining the history of the buildings and the families as we go along. See attached notes for details.

The Teacup Tea garden (Beck House), Worcester

Fairburn St, Worcester

20 Fairburn Street, Worcester

Julian led us on our very successful away-weekend to the Nuy Valley last year and he is keen to tell us his stories about families and buildings in the town, many of them connected to the farms we saw in the Nuy Valley. The tour will in include walking and driving.

Julian Kritzinger
Julian is a formidable young man. He has made a study of families in the Worcester area, particularly the Rabies, of which he is a member; he is waiting for the results of two PhD’s on law which he did simultaneously; and he has just won a DA seat in the local elections with 94% of the vote in his constituency, having personally visited every one of the over 3000 houses in his area!

Julian has suggested lunch at the Cafe Hugo. If you intend to have lunch here you must let Pat Kramer know by the 12 October as we need to book. You could, of course, have a snack elsewhere (last year’s place, the Barn was good).




SEPTEMBER 2016 -TALK (20 Sept)

TOPIC: Two histories of Valkenburg: historic farmstead and psychiatric hospital

SPEAKER:  Trevor Thorold

DATE:  Tuesday, 20th September 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Trevor Thorold will give an illustrated talk on Valkenberg, both the “Manor House” and the Psychiatric Hospital.

Valkenburg Hospital

Trevor Thorold, our speaker, is a long-standing member of the Vernacs and a well-known and highly-respected Cape Town-based conservation architect, who has worked on a number of significant restoration projects in Cape Town and environs. Trevor practices in collaboration with his wife, Jacqui in the practice Thorold Architects. His many projects include Waterhof, Leeuwenhof, Rust-en-Vreugd and the extensive work carried out at Solms-Delta, as well as a number of projects for UCT including Wolmunster in Rosebank which the Vernacs visited some years ago.


The restored Valkenburg House

In 1661 an allocation of 25 morgen was made by Commander Jan van Riebeeck ‘lying between Table and False Bays’ to Willem Willemz van Deventer and Pieter de Jongh. It became the nucleus of the farm on the Liesbeek River that was later called Valkenburg. As Andre Pretorius pointed out, “Together with Coornhoop, Bloemendal and Vredenburg it has one of the oldest remaining free burgher houses on an agricultural holding, dating from the time of van Riebeeck”. In 1666 13 morgen of the grant was acquired by Willem Schalk van der Merwe, the progenitor of this well known family.

Pretorius attributes the present house to Cornelis de Waal who owned the farm from 1746 until his death in 1774. The next owner, J.M. Buyk is believed to have built the double storey wing with a wavy parapet. In 1808 it was acquired by Cornelis Mostert who is said to have built the west-facing house as it appears today. This is believed to have incorporated two adjacent buildings which lead to the off-centre gable and the lack of a voorhuis.

In 1891 the Mental Hospital was established on the grounds of Valkenburg and the house became the residence of the hospital Superintendent. Years of neglect later followed as well as a fire in 1955 which resulted in the loss of many outbuildings. The house deteriorated badly and the west gable collapsed in 1985, resulting in its rebuilding.

alkenburg before restoration

Thorold Architects have been responsible for restoration and conservation work at Valkenburg house as well as the psychiatric hospital which has been restored to its former glory.



LOCATION: Valkenburg & the Royal Observatory
LEADER: Trevor Thorold

The visit to Valkenburg will be led by Trevor Thorold and the Royal Observatory by Ian Glass.

he restored wavy parapet at Valkenburg House

he Royal Observatory (The SAAO)



AUGUST 2016 TALK (16 Aug)

TOPIC:  Tracing the history of the farm Bokbaai on the West Coast


SPEAKER: Kathy Schulz
DATE:  Tuesday, 16th August 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

This talk will be a powerpoint introduction on how to undertake research in the archives as Kathy will take us through the steps she followed to unravel the history of Bokbaai on the West Coast. As the Vernacs will be visiting Bokbaai in November, Kathy’s lecture will be particularly relevant.

Kathy Schulz, our speaker for the meeting has been researching in the Cape Town Archives and Deeds Office since 1989. Her interest in the South African land ownership saga started in Natal at the age of 18 when working for a legal firm of conveyancers as a Deeds researcher and junior secretary.  She valued the history of the documents and continued researching throughout the dots and dashes of her life. Researching has been her full time career for the past twenty three years, operating as a consultant on many projects.

Kathy will be talking through her research methodology, using the farm Bokbaai also known as Buck Bay as an example.

Bokbaai (Buck Bay also known as Bok Rivier)


This long T-shaped house with a simple holbol gable and an attached outbuilding lies close to the sea. Although it was granted in 1827 to Laurens Johannes & Jacobus Petrus de Jong, the history is believed to stretch much further back. It is thought (cf. H.Fransen) that it was used during the VOC days when it was occupied by the supervisor of the lime kiln that operated from there from the early 18th century together with labourers’ quarters.

VASSA talks are open to the public, and are free. See you there! 




LOCATION: Boschendal Estate, Groot Drakenstein
LEADER: Sarah Winter

Continuity and change.
Boschendal werf is one of the most iconic werfs within the Cape Winelands. It was one of the farms consolidated into Rhodes Fruit Farms in 1897. In 1969 Anglo American purchased RFF to become Amfarms for the next 31 years. In 1976 the homestead, outbuildings and gardens were restored to their 19th century appearance under the supervision of Gabriel and Gwen Fagan. Boschendal werf was declared a national monument in 1979. In the late 1970s it was established as a museum and tourism facility, one of the first establishments of its kind in the Cape Winelands. The wine cellar was adapted for use a restaurant. In 2003 a consortium of investors (Boschendal Ltd) purchased the Boschendal farms.

The walkabout will highlight some of the conservation principles of the 1970s restoration. It will also focus on the conservation principles used to guide the recent upgrading of tourism facilities including restaurant facilities, the new function venue and adaptive reuse of cottages for overnight accommodation. Recent landscaping interventions within and around the werf will also be explored.

Situated to the north of the Boschendal werf at the intersection of the R45 and the R310 is the old Rhodes Fruit Farms factory precinct. There are proposals to develop a village node on this site. The walkabout will view the site from the werf, discuss the proposals in general and point out key heritage issues.

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Biographical sketch of Sarah Winter
Sarah Winter has a background in archaeology and town planning. As a heritage planner she has worked extensively in the Cape Winelands over the last 20 years and has a specific interest in cultural landscape assessment. She has been a consultant on various projects at Boschendal since 2005.

2016 JULY

2016 JULY

LOCATION: Fernwood House, Bishopscourt
LEADER: André Berman

Andrew Berman, who has been working on heritage aspects of proposals to develop Fernwood for a number of years, gave us an introduction to the history of the estate at our March talk.
Although Fernwood house in its present form dates from the late nineteenth century, the estate is illustrated on Thibault’s map, and Andrew explained developments dating back to the early 1800’s.

From a vernacular landscape perspective, the estate is interesting because of the aspects such as: water on site, avenues, views to mountains etc.
From a vernacular architecture perspective, the long house is the most well preserved example of early architecture on the estate.a96d2dd8-0dd6-4891-814a-6758d4e693b9
Site plan of Fernwood with the entrance on the top right-hand corner.

According to Hans Fransen (2004) Fernwood, which was used as the Parliamentary Club for many years, was “part of the grant Goed-en-Quaad ‘in the wilderness north of the Liesbeek River’ to Wouter Cornelisz Mostert in 1666; transferred in 1688 to Willem ten Damme and in 1701 regranted as Boshof…
The main house is a long single-storeyed building, with its high stoep flanked by bow-fronted stoepkamers. It has a slate roof punctuated by diagonal chimneys with an extension to the right.
The building received its present appearance in 1877 but probably contains earlier material”.



JULY TALK (19 July 2016)

TOPIC:  Records of a field trip to the Karoo


The Karoo Research Group at the homestead on the farm Bloemfontein in the Kareeberge.  Photograph: John Kramer

SPEAKER:  Pat Kramer
DATE:  Tuesday, 19 July 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Pat Kramer and a group of fellow Vernackers have been travelling around the Karoo for a decade locating and recording corbelled buildings. Recently Nigel Amschwand began a research project on the Basters of the Kareeberge and the effects of the border moving from the Sak River to the Gariep (Orange) River in 1847. Therefore, in addition to looking for corbelled buildings, we have also begun to investigate farms with Baster connections in the Kareeberge.

This presentation is a record of the vernacular structures on farms as well as buildings in the towns of Sutherland, Fraserburg and Williston that we recorded on our field trip in April 2015.

Pat Kramer

Pat Kramer completed her Honours degree in prehistoric archaeology many years ago and, after a career in publishing, returned to archaeology – this time historic archaeology – to follow her passion for locating and studying corbelled buildings in the Great Karoo.  Her work earned her a M.Phil from the University of Cape Town and she is busy working on a book about corbelled buildings.


JUNE TALK: 21 June 2016



Image courtesy of

SPEAKER:  Derek Stuart-Findlay

DATE:  Tuesday, 21 June 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

The Silvermine Valley has always been strategic in terms of access to the South Peninsula. The DEIC used the heights above the valley as a ‘buitepos’ lookout from the very early days while the valley itself was used for grazing cattle. Three silvermine shafts were excavated in the area in 1687. Defensive positions were built in 1805 and the first farms in the valley were granted three years later. These enjoyed a reasonable supply of water and became the home of many early Cape families like Kirsten, de Villiers, van Blerk and van der Poll. The ruins in the valley, including those of the well-known ‘Kruithuis’, will be explored and an attempt will be made to explain the roles of these structures.

Derek Stuart-Findlay will examine the geographic and military significance of the valley in its wider context.

Derek Stuart-Findlay

Derek was born in Cape Town and has always been fascinated by its early history. He retired from a 32 year career in the property industry and settled in St. James.  His interests include the history of motoring in South Africa and he is the author of ‘Our Intrepid Cape Motoring Pioneers’ (2015), a fascinating account of early motoring here. (Copies will be available at the talk @ R250). He is a member, past chairman and historian of the Crankhandle Club. He also co-authored ‘St. James, a place of Dreams’ with Mike Walker.

2016 JUNE

2016 JUNE

LOCATION: Poespaskraal Farm & Glencairn Watermill
LEADER: Trish Wood, Paul Jacques

We will be welcomed by Trish Wood, whose family have owned the farm houses and immediate surrounding area for many years.  The original farm was once the major farm in the Fish Hoek Valley and extended across the valley.  25 years ago Trish decided to restore the main farm buildings.
Ivan Flint was the architect responsible and Ivan and Trish will present a show in the Voorkamer, of the photos taken at the time of the restoration.
After the main house exploration, we will visit 2 outbuildings, one restored and one waiting for Trish’s son to do so.Thereafter explore the perennial spring still flowing despite the lack of rain, and the graveyard.

Glencairn Watermill – A reconstruction of the mill
Glencairn watermill

We meet our guide, Paul Jacques, in the second building, where Paul will share with us his research into the nearby watermill as well as  his informative computer reconstruction thereof. Thereafter we will walk to the nearby ruin of the mill. This will conclude the day’s outing. On your return journey the wetland is worth a visit and paths have been laid out. There is also the Hotel for those with parched throats or tired feet!


(The word poespas means a hodgepodge in Dutch). Sunnydale Farm (formerly Poespas Kraal) was one of four land grants made simultaneously in 1743. De Noordhoek, Slangenkop (Imhoff’s Gift) and De Goede Gift were granted to Christina Diemer and Poespas Kraal to George Wieser. Christina Diemer was the widow of Frederik Russouw of Zwaanswyk (Steenberg). The De Noordhoek grant is commemorated by a tiled mural on the old Noordhoek Post Office in Village Lane.

Poespas Kraal was 30 morgen [26 ha] in extent and was bought and developed by Johannes Bruins on 8 June 1759. Bruins (Andries Bruins’ father) is credited with having built the gabled homestead c1760 which is beautifully maintained and tucked away out of sight in today’s suburb of Capri. The former slave quarters was once a restaurant in which the original stonework was displayed. The homestead is one of four Provincial Heritage sites in Fish Hoek Valley.

Subsequent owners include Jones (1824). In that year the Fiscal reported that for tax purposes Mr I.N. Jones had at the farm: 1 x man; 1 x wife; 4 x sons; 4 x daughters; 2 x Hottentot males under 16; 1 x Hottentot female under 20; 1 x Hottentot female over 20; 5 x riding horses; 10 x oxen; 60 withers; 25 x goats; 695 Morgen of land; barley and oats. Tax due: £19-3 shillings.

In more recent times Sunnydale Farm was sub-divided into various lots and one lot-holder was Buller Louw who had a dairy herd, an abattoir and a road-side shop. Nicknamed Louw’s Corner, this famous shopping landmark was located at a point just short of the turn off to Noordhoek/Chapman’s Peak on the M64. Louw sold out to developers and the complex was demolished to make way for Sun Valley Mall in the 1980s and later Longbeach Mall.

Sources: Hans Fransen and Mary Cook; Audrey Read. Malcolm Cobern.

Mike Walker
has just published a book on the history of the Families and Farms of the South Peninsula and the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
He includes the Poespaskraal hunting lodge and the Elsies River mill at Glencairn.
The book costs R170 (including postage). He can be contacted on 021 7881927 and 

MAY TALK: 17 May 2016

MAY TALK: 17 May 2016

TOPIC: Rock Engravings of 19th-century Karoo domestic architecture

SPEAKERS: Simon Hall and Vuyiswa Lupuwana from the University of Cape Town
DATE:  Tuesday, 17 May 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

This talk introduces research on 18th and 19th century archaeological residues in the Karoo related to the interface between Khoe and San pastoralists and hunter-gatherers and the colonial expansion of trekboer farmers. In the main these residues comprise Khoesan camps, Khoe and trekboer kraal systems, rock engravings, vernacular architecture and oral narratives.

One of the central themes of this research is to track Khoesan cultural change through the 19th and into the 20thcentury. This is important in correcting a perception that the colonial marginalisation of Khoesan people within the rural farm economy completely obliterated their cultural practice. This research highlights archaeological contributions that put them back on this landscape by recognising their cultural continuity.

After introducing these themes and issues, the talk will introduce recently recorded rock engravings of domestic architecture from the farm Grootfontein in the Kareeberg near Williston. As far as we are aware these are the first engravings found of this type. We introduce and describe these engravings and their physical setting and outline some tentative ideas about why houses were engraved. Perhaps more important at this stage of the research, however, is to be more secure about the identity of the houses that are being engraved and consequently, we seek comment and opinion on these engraved houses. Obvious questions focus on chronology and distribution? Do they depict an amalgam of features or a specific house type? If a specific type would they have been built in both farm and town settings? What other questions might we ask?

The Speakers

Simon Hall is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at UCT. His work can be situated within the field generally referred to as Historical Archaeology. Apart from his and his students work in the Karoo, he also focuses on the recent archaeology of Tswana-speaking farmer communities to the north of the Gariep

Vuyiswa Lupuwana is an MPhil student in the department of Archaeology at UCT. She holds honours degrees in both archaeology and film and media studies.

2016 MAY

2016 MAY

LOCATION: La Cotte estate, Franschhoek 
LEADER: Antonia Malan

La Cotte will be an opportunity for Vernacs to try and decipher what is going on at La Cotte as the walls have been stripped of plaster and the floors taken up. A plan with suggestions made a few years ago on a previous inspection will be available for people to walk around with and compare the architect’s notes with their observations,. 

According to Hans Fransen, the farm was first granted to a Huguenot, Jean Gardiol, in 1713. The T-shaped farmhouse now has a corrugated iron roof and clipped gables, the front gable bearing the date 1836. With the plaster removed the position of the original casements can be clearly seen. There are number of interesting outbuildings forming the werf, as well as an overshot water-mill a short distance away.

Please read the original La Cotte article in the VASSA Journal (Number 11 June 2004) on the VASSA website (under Publications / Journals) so that you arrive well informed!


La Cotte watermill


La Cotte werf









2016 APRIL

2016 APRIL

LOCATION: Mostert’s Mill, Welgelegen
LEADER: Gwen Fagan

Mostert’s Mill will be opened for us to visit the oldest working windmill in the Southern Hemisphere.
From the Mill we will be going to Welgelegen, where we will be shown around this historical house that was reconstructed by Herbert Baker.
We will also see the formal gardens of Welgelegen, UCT, that were recreated by Gwen Fagan.
Bring your picnics, to make this a fun outing!

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Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 16.53.32

TALK & AGM: 15 March 2016

TOPIC:  Fernwood, Newlands

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 16.53.32

Image from Google maps

SPEAKER:  Andrew Berman
DATE:  Tuesday, 15 March 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Andrew Berman has been working on heritage aspects of proposals to develop Fernwood for a number of years. He’ll give us an introduction to the history of the estate: although Fernwood house in its present form dates from the late nineteenth century, the estate is illustrated on Thibault’s map, and Andrew will explain developments dating back to the early 1800’s.

From a vernacular landscape perspective, the estate is interesting because of the aspects such as: water on site, avenues, views to mountains etc.

From a vernacular architecture perspective, the long house is the most well preserved example of early architecture on the estate…

Andrew Berman

Andrew Berman is a Cape Town architect, urban designer and accredited heritage practitioner. He graduated with the degree of B Arch from the University of Cape Town. He is a registered architect since 1986 and also a member of the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP). He works in partnership with André Pentz in the practice Pentz & Berman and also Urban Design Services cc. At the Vernac workshop that was held in November 2004, Andrew spoke on Palladian principles in Cape architecture, reflecting an abiding interest he has in classicism which has informed his design philosophy.


According to Hans Fransen (2004) Fernwood, which was used as the Parliamentary Club for many years, was “part of the grant Goed-en-Quaad ‘in the wilderness north of the Liesbeek River’ to Wouter Cornelisz Mostert in 1666; transferred in 1688 to Willem ten Damme and in 1701 regranted as Boshof… The main house is a long single-storeyed building, with its high stoep flanked by bow-fronted stoepkamers. It has a slate roof punctuated by diagonal chimneys with an extension to the right. The building received its present appearance in 1877 but probably contains earlier material”.



LOCATION: Fleurbaix, Stellenbosch
LEADER: Ivan Flint

Fleurbaix, André Pretorius Collection, Stellenbosch University

Courtesy of the André Pretorius Collection, Stellenbosch University

Fleurbaix (Fleurbaai)
The farm Fleurbaix, which adjoins Libertas, was granted in 1694 to the Huguenot, Pierre Le Fèbre, who was employed by the Dutch East India Company as a surgeon. He had arrived at the Cape in 1683. He named the farm after his birthplace, Fleurbaix, a town in the Artois district near Lille in northern France. The name was Dutchified to Fleurbaai but has now returned to its original form.

In 1800 the farm was owned by Paul Roux, who added the front gable and possibly built the outbuildings. The farmhouse is a freestanding H-shaped house with concavo-convex pediments. To the right of the house is a long wine cellar with concavo-convex end gables. To the left of the house is a long building that matches the wine cellar and was originally a planned longhouse. Adjoining the house is a fowl-run and there is also an early sheep kraal a distance behind the wine cellar.

The outing will end at 12:00 and you will be able to picnic in the garden so bring your picnic baskets! If however you prefer to go to a restaurant for lunch, Stellenbosch town centre is close to hand.

Fleurbaix bibliography

  1. C. de Bosdari. Cape Dutch Houses and Farms p74.
  2. James Walton (1989). Old Cape Farmsteads p39; 97 & 113.
  3. James Walton (1985), Cape Dovecots and Fowl-runs.pp84-87.
  4. Hans Fransen (2004). The Old Buildings of the Cape p233.
  5. Fransen & Cook (1965). The Old Houses of the Cape p103.
  6. Anon. (1929) Stellenbosch 1679-1929 Elliott photos

As you all know, we as Vernaccers get to see inside homes not ordinarily open to the public. We have always refrained from making personal comments about decor or antiques, opening cupboard doors or entering rooms with closed doors, but it seems in the age of digital cameras, smartphones, facebook, twitter and other social media, we need to add another aspect to our etiquette.

So, on future Vernac outings, please note that although we may sometimes be allowed to take interior photos if we have permission, we should use them only for personal or research purposes.  It is suggested that details of interior architecture / fittings might be acceptable. However the property owner/occupant should be asked if they mind if any pics are put on the internet.

Never post images of a farm online with either GPS co-ordinates or the name and location/address attached as caption or other “tag” (such as the “check in” option on facebook). We need to preserve the privacy of our hosts in this digital age! Of course, some already “public” exterior shots such as the gateposts or gables to illustrate your post to our VASSA facebook page after an outing are fine.

André Pretorius Collection, Stellenbosch University

FEB 2016 TALK: 16 February


André Pretorius Collection, Stellenbosch University

Image: Courtesy of the André Pretorius Collection, Stellenbosch University


SPEAKER:  Ivan Flint
DATE:  Tuesday, 16 February 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Ivan Flint will be speaking on the work that his practice, Flint Associate Architects has undertaken at the historic farm, Fleurbaix (Previously known as Fleurbaai) on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

Ivan Flint

Ivan Flint is a member of the Vernacs. He graduated with the degree of B Arch from the University of Cape Town in 1975. He and became a registered architect with the South African Council for Architects in 1977 and in 1986 he was admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects. He first worked for and then became the first junior partner of Munnik, Visser Black & Fish in 1984, where he was responsible for several restoration projects, working with Dirk Visser. In 1995 he founded the practice of Flint Associates Architects. Over the years Ivan has been responsible for a wide range of projects including banks, hotels, factories, wine cellars, commercial developments, restorations and renovation of historic buildings,  recycling and refurbishment, and many private and group houses. Among the many significant historic buildings that he has worked on are: St, George’s Cathedral, Hawthorden and Casa Labia for the Labia family, Glenara at UCT, Le Bonheur at Klapmuts, Uitkijk at Stellenbosch,  Land-en-Zeezicht in Somerset West and Watergate – the former Garlick family residence at Muizenberg.

Spier, Stellenbosch


LOCATION: Spier & Vergenoegd, Lyndoch
LEADER: David Gibbs

At Spier David Gibbs’ practice was trying to undo the damage that had been done by Moyo, which destroyed the context of the werf as many of you know, and to establish the relationship between the buildings and landscape, in order to appreciate the spatial dimensions of the place. This took a lot of earthworks and fine grading and careful planning to achieve!



Spier is a significant historical farm complex that dates back to 1683 when it was granted to Arnoud Jansz, also known as Arnoud Tamboer (The drummer). In 1712 it was bought by Hendrik Hattingh who named it after his hometown of Speyer (Spiers in Dutch) in the Rhineland.

The farm complex has 21 gables, unequalled anywhere at the Cape (The casino and hotel at Worcester notwithstanding!)
The original wine cellar is regarded as possibly being the oldest building of its kind in the country. It is dated 1767 and might have been built for Johannes Albertus Myburgh, who owned Meerlust.
The gable of the opstal is probably of the same date (1773) as that of Vergenoegd which we will be visiting next, as the two gables are almost identical and might well have been constructed by the same craftsmen.

The werf is lined with a number of very fine gabled buildings, among them the Jonkershuis which has a particularly elegant gable dated 1778 and its restoration has brought back an appreciation of its character, long obscured by tented structures and other paraphernalia!


Vergenoegd, Stellenbosch

Vergenoeg was first granted to Pieter de Vos in 1696. From him it passed to Ferdinand Appel, on whose death it passed to his widow, Lavinia Cloete. Lavinia went on to have four husbands, outliving all of them. When she died in 1772 the property was transferred to her grandson, Johannes Nicolaas Colyn.
It would appear that the house was probably built by Lavinia’s fourth husband, Lambert Myburgh, or possibly even earlier, but the fine holbol gable was added by Nicolaas Colyn, inscribed with the name of the farm and the date 1773.
In 1820 the farm was bought by Johannes Gysbert Faure, whose descendants still occupy the farm.

Vergenoeg’s plan is in the form of an incomplete H- possibly a back wing collapsed at some stage.
The farm has a very impressive werf with some fine details such as the enclosed rear courtyard.

The farm will also be the venue for our picnic so remember those picnic baskets!



TOPIC:  Cape Vernacular Landscape Architecture – lessons from Ian Ford: understanding local place-making traditions and interpreting the Werf Rehabilitation at Spier.

SPEAKER:  David Gibbs

DATE:  Tuesday, 17 November 2015

TIME: 19h45 for 20h00                                                   

VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

David Gibbs will be speaking on the work of Ian Ford in historic precincts and how that thinking influenced the recommendations and interventions made at Spier by David and his colleagues. He’s going to draw in the idea of cultural landscape as he uses it and as he feels it is approached in Ian Ford’s work 

Ian Ford

Ian Ford was an architect and landscape architect who developed a deep understanding of the essential logic of the Cape vernacular tradition. Ian’s respect for this tradition, and the cultural landscape with which it engenders, is evidenced by his sensitive design interventions and restoration work at historic farm estates such as Vergelegen, Groot Constantia, and Meerrust (amongst others), in which the patterns and techniques of the tradition are employed in subtle and contemporary ways. Ian’s influence has continued through the application of his approach and methodology at the recent rehabilitation of the old ‘werf’ at Spier.

Born in 1944, Ian Ford studied Architecture at UCT, and then completed his postgraduate studies in Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh University. Landscape architecture is a specialised branch of architecture that deals with the outdoor environment, the public environment, parks, plazas and gardens.

Tragically, Ian Ford was killed at the age of 57 during a break-in to his home in Tamboerskloof. His murder was a huge shock to the local architecture fraternity.

David Gibbs

David Gibbs is a Built Environment professional with an academic affinity. He teaches within the urban design, landscape architecture, city and regional planning programmes at UCT. He co-developed the Mapping Cultural Landscape Toolkit and Syllabus for the Association of African Planning Schools, co-founded the practice, gibbs saintpôl Landscape Architects, and has served as ILASA President, SACLAP Education Councillor, and FLA Young Professionals’ Advocate.



LOCATION: Piketberg, The Droogeryskloof & Wagenpad
LEADER: Nigel Amschwand 

This month our official outing was due to be an away weekend to the Nuy Valley.
However, we have been invited to join the Archaeology Society on their visit to Piketberg on the 24th October 2015.

The outing comprises two parts. Firstly, a visit to the Piketberg Information Centre to look at the storyboards containing information on the Oral History Project conducted by Antonia Malan and her team.
The Information Centre (housed in the old Synagogue) is adjacent to the Piketberg Museum that contains many items of interest.

In the afternoon we will drive north to the Droogeryskloof to visit a farm, Wagenpad, where Guy Thomas of Heritage Western Cape will tell us about his investigations into the farm’s history.





Photograph: Warmhoek ruins: Y. Viljoen 2011:  The Story of a Clanwilliam Farm: the history and archaeology of Warmhoek (unpublished MPhil UCT)

SPEAKER:  Yvonne Viljoen
DATE:  Tuesday, 20 October 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

On a small farm, Warmhoek, near to Clanwilliam, 250 km northwest of Cape Town, agrarian structures, the standing ruins of a farmhouse, and the foundations of a small building, were present on the werf (farmyard). Archaeological fieldwork and research signalled an ambiguous relationship between the two buildings, and their relationship to and the chronology of the agrarian structures was problematic. Deeds Office property transfers recorded several owners between 1896 and 1933. Clanwilliam Quitrent records identified a Crown leaseholder from 1873 for twenty-one years, but in 1889 the Surveyor-General approved a sub-lease to two ‘Coloured’ men. This history offered a chronology that could be compared to material culture, and genealogical records and personal testimonies gave insight into the agencies of owners and occupiers.

Interestingly, surveyors’ reports and diagrams do not refer to any built structures on the site – they are quite simply “absent”.  Furthermore, biographical data of the leaseholder and owners of the property strongly indicates that none of them ever lived there. Moreover, the names of people known by oral testimonies to have lived in the house do not appear in any record of the property. In fact, the only “occupants” of the property to be named in an official record are those of the sub-tenants, who never acquired ownership.  These facts must surely provide a cautionary note to researchers who might be tempted to assume identities of agents such as designers, builders, restorers and occupants of vernacular structures.

With reference to area politics and contemporary laws governing the disposal of land in the Cape Colony I found that the 1889 sub-lease was the pivotal event in the history of the property. It led to an application by two Coloured men to purchase land which was contested by the Afrikaner owners of contiguous farms, one of whom subsequently acquired a small portion of the property on which he constructed the “Warmhoek” farmhouse.

Yvonne Viljoen

Yvonne is currently Chairperson of the W. Cape branch of the S A Archaeological Society (SAAAS).  She joined the Society in 1989 in Johannesburg after a visit to the replica rock art caves at Lascaux 2 in France was followed by a lecture in Johannesburg by David-Lewis Williams on that topic.  After twelve years of attending numerous lectures and outings with the Trans-Vaal and W. Cape branches of SAAS, she decided to formalize her archaeological education and registered in 2001at UCT for an archaeology major, for which attendance at  Field School was a requirement.  The farm house on a small farm on the Jan Dissels River, Clanwilliam, had been identified in 1999 by Antonia Malan and Tony Manhire as a potential excavation site for UCT students and this was her introduction to “Warmhoek”.

In 2006, after 6 seasons of excavation by students supervised by UCT staff, Simon Hall and John Parkington invited her to curate the artefacts from the site and to conduct further research.  Research required analysis and interpretation which was supported by data from student projects submitted each year and included field notes of UCT supervisors and additional archival research: official documents, genealogies, wills and libraries. Yvonne’s M.Phil dissertation was awarded in 2011.




The Worcester District – Aan De Doorns, De Wet … Nuy and Over-Hex, 10-11October 2015 

The Barn in Church St, Worcester, and the farmsteads Tweefontein (Tweefonteyn), Oudewagensdridt, Bellevue (Kleinfontein), Nonna, Willow Creek (Willige Rivier), Oude Schuur, Patryskloof, Kloppersbosch, Leipzig, Nooitgedacht, Memel, Aan De Doorns, Nuy and Over-Hex 

Notes compiled by Julian Kritzinger, Pat Kramer, with photos by John Kramer  


SEPTEMBER 2015 -TALK (15 Sept)

TOPIC:  Toontjiesrivier in the Nuy valley
SPEAKER: Julian Kritzinger
DATE:  Tuesday, 15 September 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads


Toontjierivier (now called Penhill Manor)

Toontjiesrivier is a late thatched house in the Nuy Valley which has a fine four-pilaster Worcester-type gable with concave wings. It dates from c1840 and has a long seven bay façade with buitekamer doors on either end. Unlike most of the Breede River houses of the same date it is not two rooms deep but is T-shaped with the kitchen at the tail of the T. All openings on the main façade have quoined architraves and there is an outbuilding alongside that dates from the same time as the main house. (Info from Hans Fransen (2004) A guide to the Old Buildings of the Cape)

The house has been restored and is now a guest house. Although we will be visiting the area in October during the weekend away, we will not be visiting this house so the talk will give a good insight into one of the interesting farms in the area.

Julian Kritzinger is a heritage consultant based in Worcester who has been involved in researching the history of the house. Perhaps he might even dispel the rumours as to the origin of the name of the farm!

Groot Phesanterkraal


LOCATION: Simondium, The Agter Paarl & Phezantekraal
LEADERS: Johan Malherbe & Karin Strom

Groot Phezantekraal farmhouse
Groot Phezantekraal farmhouse

The outing will be looking at three restoration projects undertaken by Malherbe Rust Architects and we will be taken around by Johan Malherbe.
We will be starting the outing at Fredericksburg nr. Simondium. From here we will go to Diamant in the Agter Paal and finally end up at Phezantekraal near Durbanville where we will have our picnic lunch.
Fredericksburg is normally closed to the public so this should be very interesting to see.


Fredericksburg was granted in 1694 to the Huguenot Jean Nortier. The farm was named after Frederick Wilhelm Elector of Brandenburg who was a Calvinist supporter and a Huguenot hero. His widow, Marie Vitu is believed to have built the humble house that is now the jonkershuis. In 1711 this farm and the adjoining one, which had belonged to Nortier’s brother, Daniel, were bought by Jean Durand who had farmed at Donkerhoek. The buildings on the farm were constructed over many years in the second half of the 18th century. We will be looking at the cellar/tasting building.

From here we will go to Diamant in the Agter Paarl where we will see the now restored house that was built against the hillside by Jan Stephanus de Villiers in 1821. The house has a very fine main gable with fluted pilasters and much original woodwork including the windows. There are also some interesting outbuildings adjacent to the house.

Finally we will end the outing at Groot Phezantekraal near Durbanville where we will have our picnic on the lawn.


Groot Phezantekraal outbuilding (from James Walton’s book on Cape Farmhouses)

Bio: Johan Malherbe of Malherbe Rust Architects
In his own words Johan says: “I am inspired by the Cape Buildings, old and modern. I started practicing in 1980, and am still lucky to be alive. Heritage work is my passion, and due to this I have been called many names, like ‘cavalier’ ‘persistent’ ‘pioneer’’ hard headed’ etc.
But my passion remains to find novel solutions in the Cape Vernacular Architecture.
I admire my mentors like Fox, Fagan, Visser, Osler, Rennie and all others young and old who inspire me.I will keep on reconstructing, restoring, interpreting and adapting Cape Buildings until I find the best solution”.

25 March 2013 020


TOPIC:   The rehabilitation, restoration and re-use of The Granary, Cape Town
SPEAKER:  Kobus van Wyk
DATE:  Tuesday, 18 August 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

25 March 2013 020

The Granary
GAPP Architects and Urban Designers were appointed by the City of Cape Town to plan and oversee the rehabilitation, restoration and adaptive re-use of the Granary building in Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. This complex of buildings, is of high cultural, social architectural and historic significance. The proposed use of the building as a museum, archives and offices by the prospective tenant, The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, is considered highly appropriate, given the site’s historic associations.

The design approach for the proposed development closely follows the heritage design informants previously identified by Graham Jacobs in an earlier report. It is based on a ‘Building-as-document’ approach where the irregular historical layering will be reserved as part of the narrative, while adding a new contemporary layer of fabric, reflecting the proposed new use of the building in future, specifically in reference to the important role the proposed tenants played in the history of South Africa.

The proposed interventions are mainly internal and consist of repairs and renovations. New building fabric will clearly be expressed as contemporary in order to separate its appearance from the original fabric. Some later buildings are demolished to achieve a legible footprint as a basis for the design and planning for the adaptive re-use of the building.

Kobus van Wyk
Kobus is an Associate at GAPP Architects and Urban Designers and has been with the company as an Architect since May 2002. In addition to his other tasks he is responsible for the Heritage Consultancy of GAPP Architect previously headed by David van den Heever.  In this capacity he has been involved in heritage studies related to Urban Design done by GAPP. The focus of his post graduate studies in urban conservation was research on the impact of the ever shifting power space relationship as it is reflected in the historic development of the urban environment and the implications on the redevelopment of urban space.

Currently he is leading a process of assessing the condition, compliance and heritage status of the full range of provincial immovable assets of over 8million m² for Western Cape Provincial Government. This portfolio consists of around 1500 schools, 320 health facilities and 70 general buildings. The brief is to address shortcomings in the present asset management process, develop life-cycle maintenance policies and to recommend and test improved systems for assessing and managing the assets throughout the Province.

In his professional capacity he is increasingly focusing on a holistic approach to the optimisation of existing buildings applying his wide knowledge of heritage, energy efficiency and asset management.

Lutheran Church, Strand St,Lutheran Church, Stand St, Arthur Elliot photograph

2015 JULY

LOCATION:  The Lutheran Church, Strand Street 
LEADERS: Sally Titlestad, Mike Scurr

Lutheran Church, Stand St, Arthur Elliot photograph
Image: Arthur Elliot photograph

We will be looking at the interior of the church and shown some of the material that has been discovered in the archives. The pulpit of the church was carved by Anton Anreith and is regarded as the finest piece of baroque sculpture in the country.  Preliminary research into a few of the archival records dating between 1780 and 1795 has demonstrated the importance of the documents.

Despite all constraints imposed by the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), such as no baptism of girls in a family, no baptism of slaves and no marriages with the exception of both being registered Lutherans, the manuscripts reveal a picture of active and inclusive expansion of the Lutheran congregation:

529 recorded baptisms: 394 males and 135 females
105 slave and freed slave baptisms (19% of all baptisms)
55 of the mothers of children being baptised were freed slaves, 58 were first-generation descendants of freed slaves and 29 were second-generation
30% of the recorded marriages were of freed slave women to Lutheran men
The Lutheran Church in Cape Town was constructed between 1764 and 1774, first as a simple but large warehouse because the Lutherans were neither allowed to have a ‘Church’ building nor to practice their religion. Nevertheless, the Church Council was constituted and operated underground while making continual requests for permission to worship openly. In 1779 permission to worship openly was finally granted, but with the following constraints on the insistence of the Dutch Reformed Church (the DRC was the only denomination previously sanctioned by the VOC).

The building and the land of the Lutheran Church in Strand Street was donated to the community as a ‘permanent place of worship’ by Martin Melck and his wife Maria Margaretha Hop in 1774. It has the largest roof span of any known vernacular building in South Africa. The span is over 21 meters and the vaulted ceiling is similar to those in Lutheran churches in the Netherlands, Germany and Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia).

Sir Charles D'Oyly’s view of the Lutheran Church complex: 19th April 1832
Sir Charles D’Oyly’s view of the Lutheran Church complex: 19th April 1832

A vestry was later added at the back of the main Church, and the pulpit and other decoration was carved by Anton Anreith. The pipe organ was apparently the largest in the Cape at the time of its installation. The pulpit was placed in the middle of the Church, because the layout had to match Dutch Reformed Church custom.

The Swan embedded in the plaster façade and carved in various places in the Church is the symbol of Luther. It is connected to a statement of John Huss (1370-1415), whose name literally means “Goose” in the Bohemian language and who was an important religious figure whose teachings strongly influenced Martin Luther and the Reformation.

A parsonage was built in 1782 (Martin Melck House), which was declared a National Monument in 1936 and is still the last remaining ‘dakkamer house’ in Cape Town. Six years after the Martin Melck House was constructed, a sexton’s house was built on the other side of the Church (the Netherlands Consulate since the 1950s). Both were constructed with buttress walls between the buildings to support the Church.
There is a beautiful spiral staircase built in one buttress, leading to the catwalk that runs below the windows in the roof structure.

The tower of the Church incorporates the organ loft and bells and a four-faced clock (installed in 1821). Winding the clock involves pulling weights up two storeys in height every second day. The cast iron railings were added when the tower was built, and were some of the first in Cape Town.

The rear portion of the block, now Church offices and the Freeworld Design Centre, housed a school in the late 19th century. This became West End Primary and then Prestwich Primary School after new premises were built on the old Lutheran burial ground in Prestwich Street, Green Point in 1910.

Information taken from the Outsider Within website:



TOPIC:   The Outsiders Within project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand Street
SPEAKER:  Sally Titlestad
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads


The archive (Image:
The Outsiders Within project is based on collaboration between the Lutheran Church and local academics, conservators and collection managers. The Lutheran Church precinct is located in Strand Street, central Cape Town, and is the oldest remaining group of public buildings in South Africa.

This National Heritage Site houses an archive of unique manuscripts dating back to the 1740s. The Outsiders Within team discovered documents and papers that were carefully stored but never publicly accessible, and soon realized that they contain exceptional information. For instance, among the diverse Church records is evidence that brings new insights into South Africa’s history of resistance to colonial dominance.

In 2011, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand Street (ELC) appointed consultants to undertake a heritage evaluation of their property for the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). During that process, the history of the Church and its community was further uncovered and the Outsiders Within team discovered an archive with documents and papers that had not been publicly opened ever before, some dating back to the 1740s. Among the team members were Antonia Malan and Prof. Nigel Worden.

Sally Titlestad is the Project Manager for the Outsiders Within project and Heritage management consultant to the church. Sally is a well-known heritage consultant who has undertaken extensive research into the Cape’s early history and has been involved on numerous significant heritage studies on sites in the city. Sally is a member of the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP) as well as being a member of the Vernacs. Sally Titlestad and Mike Scurr are nearing completion of an ICMP for the complex.

*Information on the project taken from the Outsiders Within website:

The website has more information on the project as well as a gallery of images.



With the third Tuesday of this month (16th June) falling on a public holiday, there will be no talk
this month.

The outing for June will take place on Saturday 27th June and will be a Cape Town-based outing. The details are currently being finalized and we will send out a newsletter (to paying members only) as soon as final arrangements have been made.


NOTE: payment was due by 30 April 2015!

So if you have a pang of conscience and realize that you have not yet paid PLEASE do so without delay!! Our membership fees are very low and this is our sole source of income.

Single member: R195

Family member (2 people at the same email address): R340

SACAP member (CPD attendance certificates will be issued annually to members in this category) R295

Please note that in order to be recognized as a SACAP member you must pay this amount!

Payment: Please pay by EFT to:

Bank: Standard Bank

Branch: Rondebosch  Code: 025009

Acc No: 075624257

Please email proof of payment to:

We will post the new coloured membership slips to all paid-up members. If your membership slip is blue you haven’t paid for 2015!


Die Sandvelse Mondelinge Geskiedenis

Die Sandvelse Mondelinge Geskiedenis

Mense en plekke van die Piketberg-kontrei
Gedenk die verlede en teken dit op vir die toekoms 2015.
‘n Oudio-visuele opname van die stories van families wat verbintenisse het met plase en nedersettings van die Suidelike Sandveld.

Die Sandveldse Mondelinge Geskiedenis – 8 June 2015





The Sandveld Oral History Project

The Sandveld Oral History Project

Remembering and Recording the Past for the Future    

Read all about this fruitful collaborative project on people and places in the Piketberg region that started work in October 2013 and what it has achieved. 


VASSA Journal 31 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 31

VASSA Journal Vol. 31

June 2015 – Vol. 31


Moving inside: changing values, attitudes and world view: Pat Kramer

Moordenaarsgat: a correction: Nigel Amschwand

People and places of the Piketberg: Antonia Malan

Report - Towerwater Restoration Project, Aan de Breede Rivier

Report – Towerwater Restoration Project, Aan de Breede Rivier

A land tenure, architectural history and conservation record of the property erf 608, Bonnievale, Western Cape, located at 25 Church Street, Bonnievale, written with the particular intention of ensuring a historical record and the ongoing conservation of a materially modest but valuable fragment of our cultural heritage.
Thys Hattingh and Keith Loynes

Click here for VASSA Report Towerwater, 2014



De Twyfeling (Photograph: Andre Pretorius)

2015 MAY

LOCATION: The Bovlei area of Wellington 
LEADER: John Rennie
Venues visited: The homesteads of Welvanpas, Nabygelegen, Lelienfontein, Groenfontein, The Bovlei, De Twyfeling

De Twyfeling (Photograph: Andre Pretorius)

De Twyfeling (Photograph: Andre Pretorius)

Welvanpas, is the ancestral home of the Retief family. We will not be able to see the inside of the farmhouse, but we will be able to look around the werf at the other buildings. There is a small coffee shop in the old mill at Welvanpas, and those who get there early may like to enjoy a cup of coffee before we start. Our hosts will be Dan and Retha Retief.

After Welvanpas we will stop briefly at Nabygelegen nearby which is owned by  Mr James MacKenzie.  Here wine tasting will be available and Mr Mackenzie will take us on a cellar tour to show the restorations done to the old cellar.
From Nabygelegen we will travel to the Bosman Family Vineyards ( where we will be able to have our picnics either on the lawns or in the old cellar. Wine tasting will be available in the restored old cellar.  For those who don’t want to picnic and/or taste wine, try the Twisted Kitchen restaurant which is situated close by in Hexberg Road, Wellington.  ( (Tel: 021-8641467) as is the boutique hotel Au’ de hex: both of which offer lunch.  If you choose either of these options, please pre-order your lunch so as not to delay the start of our afternoon outing.
After lunch, at 2pm our host, Mr Jannie Bosman senior, who is very familiar with the history of the houses in the area, will show us 3 of the old homesteads which form part of the family’s extensive properties in this valley  (Lelienfontein, Groenfontein and De Twyfeling).  The last is unique in appearance with later additions.

Lelienfontein and the Bosman family
The Lelienfontein Estate, originally allocated to the Huguenot, Philip de Royan in 1699 by Governor, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, was settled by the first generation of the Bosman family in 1798. The family’s first ancestor, Hermanus Bosman, was a sieketrooster (caregiver) who worked in the Cape and played a central role in community development and social upliftment..

The Bovlei
According to Fransen (2004) this ‘Upper Valley’ “contains what is probably the densest concentration of Cape Dutch opstalle and related structures. Cradled as it is by the Groenberg, Limiet, Obiqua and Hawequas mountains and their spurs, the valley forms a distinctive cultural landscape’’. (Fransen: 307)

Welvanpas was originally called De Krakeelhoek. It was granted in 1712 to the Huguenot Pierre Mouy who had been settled there since 1705. It was acquired by Jacobus Retief in 1784 although there was a connection to the original owner since Mouy’s daughter had married Francois Retief in 1700. In 1817 Retief demolished the old house and built a new one behind it, higher up the slope.
From Fransen we learn that, according to the late Dan Retief, great grandson of Jacobus Retief, the latter had a slave who designed and built houses. He built Welvanpas, possibly also Nabygelegen and Weltevreden near Stellenbosch. The outbuildings are grouped around the forecourt and stand parallel with the front of the house.

Nabygelegen was granted to Arnoldus Kreutzmann in 1712. In 1807 it was bought by David Gerhard Roux. The gables were clipped in the late 19th century and the veranda added. The cellar is to the left of the house and has a triangular gable with a pseudo-pediment (Fransen) and round-headed windows, all dating from about 1840.

This farm was a deduction from Groenfontein, made in 1839. The H-shaped homestead had been modernised, with loft windows but retains its thatch roof. The neoclassical gable (dated 1795) is a fairly recent addition.

De Twyfeling
This farm is a deduction, nearly 7 morgen in size, from Optenhorst made in 1812 after the death of the Widow Jan le Roux for her son Gabriel Hauptfleisch. Possibly the name, which means hesitation or doubt, refers to the fact that it was doubtful whether one could farm such a small piece of land! The homestead dated 1818 is, according to Fransen, ‘one of the most interesting and best preserved houses in the Bovlei, though of course it has not been left unaltered’.
It is H-shaped with no back gable. The house has a neoclassical gable. The façade is also very interesting with fluted pilasters flanking the front door and a classical architrave. The veranda with its central portico is attributed to the Paarl architect Wynand Louw c. 1920.
An outbuilding beside the house with a gable dated 1824, with four pilasters, pediment and wings without scrolls, is possibly an older house.

John Rennie is a well-known Cape Town heritage architect and a former Chair of the Vernacular Architecture Society. His practice, Rennie Scurr Adendorff Architects, has won a number of awards for its heritage projects. He has been active in the Society from its earliest days and has led many outings and spoken on the subject of our vernacular heritage on several occasions.




SPEAKER:  John Rennie
DATE:  Tuesday, 19th May 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads
John Rennie will discuss the farms of the Bovlei.

John Rennie is a well-known Cape Town heritage architect and a former Chair of the Vernacular Architecture Society. His practice, Rennie Scurr Adendorff Architects, has won a number of awards for its heritage projects. He has been active in the Society from its earliest days and has led many outings and spoken on the subject of our vernacular heritage on several occasions. He will discuss the old homesteads of the Bovlei area of Wellington, such as Welvanpas, ancestral home of the Retief family, Nabygelegen, and more.

The Bovlei
According to Fransen (2004) this ‘Upper Valley’ “contains what is probably the densest concentration of Cape Dutch opstalle and related structures. Cradled as it is by the Groenberg, Limiet, Obiqua and Hawequas mountains and their spurs, the valley forms a distinctive cultural landscape’’. (Fransen: 307). Welvanpas was originally called De Krakeelhoek. It was granted in 1712 to the Huguenot Pierre Mouy who had been settled there since 1705. It was acquired by Jacobus Retief in 1784 although there was a connection to the original owner since Mouy’s daughter had married Francois Retief in 1700. In 1817 Retief demolished the old house and built a new one behind it, higher up the slope. From Fransen we learn that, according to the late Dan Retief, great grandson of Jacobus Retief, the latter had a slave who designed and built houses. He built Welvanpas, possibly also Nabygelegen and Weltevreden near Stellenbosch.

Talks are free and open to the public. Outings, however, are only for paid-up VASSA members.

Malmesbury, Loedolff House

2015 APRIL

LOCATION: Malmesbury – Loedolff House
LEADER: Len Raymond

Loedolff House, Malmsbury

Loedolff House
According to Hans Fransen:
“This is one of the most interesting houses in Malmesbury. It was the home of Hugo Hendrik Loedolff, a local MP who played a controversial role in church circles”. He describes the front with its two doors with spoke-fanlights and the plaster window surrounds that date the house to circa 1830. He also points out that windows at the rear of the house date back to c. 1815. A flat roof wing at the back contains an even earlier flush casement and there are heavy early internal beams in this section.
The gable was carefully reconstructed by Len Raymond with very little information to go on.

Hugo Hendrik Loedolff
In the 19th century, Hugo Henry Loedolff played a major role in Malmesbury and the rest of the Swartland. He was a controversial subject; a man with a sharp intellect, a formidable character with a passion for his beliefs. His strong will, determination, and accompanying firm beliefs, particularly in the structure of the church, created a storm and caused great upheaval in the Dutch Reformed Church at the time.
Loedolff was born in Cape Town in 1804. He moved to Malmesbury in 1838, where he worked as a legal and estate agent. From March 1854 to 1864 he represented Malmesbury in the Cape Parliament. He was an elder in the local church and as a town deputy sat in the Synods held in Cape Town in 1857 and 1862.
The controversy that Loedolff created in the church, related to his view of the composition of the Cape Synod. Following the Great Trek, the church synod consisted both of members of the Cape as well as members of churches that lay outside the Cape. It was taken for granted that the churches outside the borders of the Cape Colony formed part of the Cape Church and therefore could be represented in the synod of the Cape Church. Loedolff vehemently opposed this concept.
At the Synod of 1862 he created a sensation. On the first day of the session when the Synod was constituted and the names of the delegates were read out, he objected in writing to the representatives from Pietermaritzburg in Natal. His objection was dismissed.
On 6 November, he submitted a motion that no congregation outside the borders of the Cape Colony could have a seat in the synod. He had sought legal advice from three advocates of the Cape Bar. The proposal was rejected by the Synod. Loedolff then took the matter to court. At a second court hearing to obtain an interdict he was successful and members from outside the Cape were barred from the Synod. This completely changed the composition of the DRC.




TOPIC:   The restoration of Loedolff House in Malmesbury
SPEAKER:  Len Raymond
DATE:  Tuesday, 21 April 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads


Len Raymond will discuss the restoration of the historic Loedolff House in Malmesbury, which is one of the oldest buildings in the town, dating back to the beginning of the 19th century. It had been much altered over the years so that its significance could scarcely be recognised. Len Raymond then bought the building and painstakingly removed some of the later alterations, restoring its thatch roof and gable. The restoration involved a careful reconstruction of the roof structure following the traditional, vernacular construction methodology of buildings of this date. The gable was reconstructed by Len Raymond, who had limited information regarding the appearance gables and this took painstaking research to decide upon an eventual design. He will discuss this research process in detail.

Mr. Len Raymond
Len Raymond is the current President of Heritage South Africa. He has also been actively involved in the Drakenstein Heritage Foundation and is regarded as an authority on the form and construction of early Cape Dutch architecture with an in-depth and hands-on knowledge of the detailing of these buildings. His company Dal Josaphat Restoration has undertaken the repair and restoration of numerous historic buildings at the Cape. Len is a passionate advocate for conservation and the role that local interest groups can and must play in the preservation of local heritage- an issue that he has taken seriously at provincial level.

At the AGM held last month the membership fees for 2015 were ratified.
They are as follows:
Single member:   R195
Family member (2 people at the same email address): R340
SACAP member (CPD attendance certificates will be issued annually to members in this category) R295

Payment : Please pay by EFT to:
Bank:     The Standard Bank
Branch:    Rondebosch
Code:      025009
Acc No:   075624257
Please use YOUR NAME as the beneficiary reference and email proof of payment to:

It is impossible to correctly allocate payment of subs if your name is not indicated!! Also make sure that you have completed the membership form. We still have some paid-up members for whom we do not have any contact details.
The 2015 membership coloured slips will be posted with the May newsletter.

2015 MARCH

2015 MARCH

LOCATION: Homestead Park, Oranjezicht
LEADER: Kathy Dumbrell & HRA

Homestead Park in Oranjezicht

This month we return to the City Bowl to hear from City officials about the Conservation Management Plan* process underway at Homestead Park in Oranjezicht.
The site is fascinating and poses complex heritage management issues as it is not only home to the remains of the Oranjezicht homestead of the van Bredas, but also a children’s park and the old bowling fields now under cultivation by Oranjezicht City Farm.
Next door is the historic field of springs (we visited there a few years ago with the Camissa project people).  Restorer Jan Correwijn is currently working on the springs and interesting new material is coming to light.

Harriet Clift, Berendine Irrgang and Sjanel Martin of the Heritage Resources (HRA) Section in the City will be showing us around as they explain the process underway, what the professionals undertaking the studies have found and what it means for the management of this interesting and complex site.

*A Conservation Management Plan is the result of a process of consultation, research and assessment of the significance of and threats to a heritage site.  It is an invaluable management tool for heritage resource managers and a guideline for users and interest groups.  It is a process considered international best practice and it will be interesting to hear how our City is planning to use it in this case to the benefit of the heritage resources, the user groups, the public and

The house was demolished in 1955 but the bell tower and pieces of the old walls remain and have been proclaimed. In 1731 Pieter van Breda bought Oranjezicht. His son Michiel enlarged the property in 1769 and possibly built a larger house. By 1851 the farm was over 213 morgen in extent.
The second Michiel van Breda acquired the property in 1804 and he must have raised it to two storeys and Georgianized it.




TOPIC: Cape Baroque
SPEAKER: Dr. Hans Fransen
DATE:  Tuesday, 17 March 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Author, historian, heritage practitioner and former Chairman of VASSA, Dr. Hans Fransen’s contribution to the literature and understanding of the material culture of the Cape has been extraordinary. He has written extensively on the architectural tradition of our vernacular heritage and linked the development of architecture at the Cape to trends and architectural movements both in Europe and in the former Dutch colonies.
In his latest book, ‘Cape Baroque and the contribution of Anton Anreith’ (2014) he examines the architecture and the furniture at the Cape in the 18th century to show that they form part of a much broader development of Baroque that spread across Europe, initially as a response to the strictures of Calvinism in Catholic countries of Europe. He will be speaking on the themes that he explored in his book which will also be on sale at the meeting.
Dr. Hans Fransen
(Quoting from the preface to his book, written by Anton Obholzer)
“Hans … started out as an ‘outsider’: he was born in Amsterdam and emigrated to South Africa (as an assistant land-surveyor!), aged 24. Ever since then he has been engaged with Cape cultural and art history… He went on to author a stream of books, chapters and articles that cover the breadth of Cape culture… all contributing to a rich, in-depth picture of the Cape scene”.

Hans Fransen (2014). Cape Baroque and the contribution of Anton Anreith.
A stylistic survey of architectural decoration and the applied arts at the Cape of Good Hope 1652-1800. Published by rapid access publishers, Stellenbosch.

It is that time of the year again! Please join us for our outgoing Chairman, Thys Hattingh’s report on the activities of the Society. This will be followed by the election of a new committee for 2015-16, with a number of vacancies as a result of committee members who are standing down.
The AGM will be followed by refreshments, kindly organised by Helen Binckes.



LOCATION: San Remo, Gardens 
LEADER: André van Graan  

San Remo, Krynauw St, Gardens,

Change and growth of a Cape house
According to Hans Fransen,  this house was built on the ‘market garden, ‘Weltevreden’.
In 1822 it was transferred by A. Smuts to P. Auret, and in 1830 he transferred it to Hendrik Johannes Hofmeyr. The property was sub-divided in 1855 and 1857, with Sebastiaan Valentyn Hofmeyr acquiring the San Remo portion in 1855. Between this date and 1857 the property value rose steeply and again in 1857/60and it is presumed that this was when the rectangular, two room deep double-storey was added to the front of the original single storey U-shaped house, possibly by the following owner, Richard Henricus Daneel. There were a number of later additions.
In the house there are mid-19th century sash windows and an eight-panel front door.
The house is currently being repaired and renovated by Jane Visser Architects, and Jane (niece of Dirk and Mike Visser) has very kindly arranged for us to visit the house.
Reference: Hans Fransen (2004) The Old Buildings of the Cape, 66.

The Cape Times report on San Remo:
‘Cedric Castro …undertook to renovate the building into eight apartments. The apartments, likely to be named Wilton House after a previous incarnation of the building, will be available only to rent.
The building, originally a barn built in 1806, was transformed into a Georgian villa and then a lodge for nurses.
It later became San Remo Guest House, but it fell into disrepair and became cheap accommodation in the 1990s. It has long been a problem building, with drugs and prostitution being major concerns.
“It was a dangerous place and it has to be changed to improve the area,” Orengo de Lamaziere said.
To “rejuvenate the soul” of the building, he invited a group of artists to use rooms as studios for 18 months after which an exhibition was held.
Heritage practitioner Chris Snelling was called in to assist with the heritage aspects of the proposal. As one of the founders of Heritage Western Cape (sic!), he has had a special interest in the building. He confirmed that the building had had problems.
He advised in terms of process, treatment to the building and how to rehabilitate it, but he said it was not a restoration as such because there was too much that was damaged and lost over the years.
“From what I’ve seen respect and care is being given to the building and its heritage,” he said.
Renovations should be complete by the end of November, but Orengo de Lamaziere will continue to search for the perfect venue for his hotel’. – Cape Times



TOPIC:  Wood and iron architecture- an industrial vernacular
SPEAKER: Prof. André van Graan
DATE: Tuesday, 17 February 2015
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

‘When considering the development of prefabrication in the 1840s and 1850s, one can hardly overstate the importance of corrugated iron’.
This quote from Gilbert Herbert’s book Pioneers of Prefabrication, opens Prof. Brian Kearney’s book Stern Utility. The wood and iron architecture of Natal (2014). He goes on to recount that when James Walton visited Durban in 1987, he saw a number of surviving wood and iron houses in Clairwood and declared it to be a whole new ‘industrial vernacular’ desperately awaiting careful recording and acknowledgement.

Wood and iron was the material of choice for rapid, economical construction. It characterised the architecture of South Africa’s nineteenth century mining boom both in Kimberley as well as Johannesburg and the host of mining villages that sprang up at the time. It was used by all classes of society, so that Kearney cites the fact that Jan Smuts’ house, Doornkloof near Irene as well as Mahatma Ghandi’s humble house at Phoenix in Natal, were both wood and iron structures.
Both liked and vilified in equal measure, corrugated iron buildings were, by their nature, temporary and many of them have been demolished to make way for more permanent structures. Those that remain have reached a point where they are in danger of collapse if not repaired. In Cape Town a number of wood and iron structures remain, mostly in a rather parlous state. There are a number of wood and iron houses in Athlone that were built in the early 20th century by the city council for their workers and which are now threatened with demolition.
In his talk, André will look at the worldwide occurrence of wood and iron architecture and acknowledge some our local industrial vernacular, drawing attention to its plight as heritage. As the material of our informal settlements this remains a significant post-colonial vernacular building material.

VASSA Journal Vol. 30

VASSA Journal Vol. 30

VASSA Journal Vol. 30

DECEMBER 2014 – Vol. 30


Joanna on VASSA excursions: always curious:  Pat Kramer

Joanna Marx, a memory: Eureka Barnard & Leana du Preez

Of honnehokke and other things: Ron Viney

Joanna Marx: an inspiration to milling: Andy Selfe

When Joanna introduced me to James Walton: Nigel Amschwand

The Joanna Marx Collection: Ilse Arendse

A Tribute: Ron Viney



LOCATION: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
LEADER: Kathy Dumbrell

This month’s visit will be to properties in the the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus.
The outing will include a visit to the historic Karwyderskraal farm, which belonged to the redoubtable Ella Gordon. Her vernacular cottage is currently being restored. The farm also contains her well-known horse graveyard and a number of interesting outbuildings.

In this, the Vernacs 50th anniversary year, it has been wonderful to realize that a number of the founder members are still a part of the Society today. In particular we would like to salute three Vernacs who celebrated their 90th birthdays this year.

Firstly on the 27th May, our President, Mary Floyd, celebrated her 90th birthday. Mary had been instrumental in the founding of the Society along with her late husband, Hugh. She has always promoted and supported the endeavours and ideals that James Walton so eloquently set out as the aims of the Vernacs. We are honoured as a Society to have Mary as our President.
Her birthday was followed by Gwen Fagan on the 25th September. Gwen, along with her husband Gawie, has featured large in the conservation and restoration of our architectural heritage and her knowledge and enthusiasm for our historical gardens has resulted in a doctorate and a book on the historical roses of the Cape along with a number of historic gardens being recreated.
Jean Parker, the owner of Altydgedacht near Durbanville and another founder member, celebrated her 90th birthday at a special party at the Durbanville Town Hall on the 4th November. Jean’s enthusiasm for vernacular architecture and our agrarian architectural heritage is embodied in the way in which Altydgedacht has maintained its historic environment despite the encroaching suburbia.
Our congratulations and thanks to those active and energetic 40-year old women who were so instrumental in getting the Vernacs off the ground 50 years ago. We look forward to celebrating your centenaries!

A thought for 2015
VASSA has turned 50, which is a remarkable achievement for any society in the 21st century. As part of the mandate laid down all those years ago we said that we would examine and record our much-threatened vernacular heritage. This we do through our talks and outings, and very importantly, through our measuring and recording projects.



TOPIC:  Celebrating 50 years of Vernaccing!
DATE: Tuesday, 18 November 2014
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

We will celebrate our 50th anniversary this evening with the launch of the VASSA 50th birthday Souvenir. This is a compilation of work done by the Vernacs and published in the Journal and Reports over the years.  Drinks and snacks will be served in the drawing room. Come and join in this celebration!



LOCATION: Ida’s Valley, near Stellenbosch
LEADER: André van Graan 

We commenced our anniversary year of 2014 at Altydgedacht with Mrs. Jean Parker, one of the founder members of the Vernacs and today we continue the celebration of our fiftieth anniversary at the beautiful Cape Dutch manor house of Ida’s Valley.

This historical farmhouse is the home of Mrs. Fiona Erskine, the widow of the late Major Philip Erskine.
The Erskines were enthusiastic members of the Vernacs in the early days of the society. Philip Erskine was one of the team who measured up and recorded Coenradenberg, the subject of the August outing. He recorded all the furniture in the house at Coenradenberg during the 1975/76 recording.

A Cape Baroque masterpiece
The farm was originally granted in 1683 to François Villion, progenitor of the Viljoen family, who came to the Cape from France ahead of the Huguenots. His modest house still stands and is the present Jonkershuis.
In 1775 the farm was bought by Samuel Cats, son of a surgeon in the VOC, from his grandparent’s estate. In 1789 he constructed the present house. It is regarded as having, along with Morgenster and Hazendal, among the finest examples of Baroque gables in the Cape.
In 1909 the estate, much Victorianised, was bought by the Mallesons; Beatrice Malleson was the daughter of Fred Struben of gold mining fame. They set out the Edwardian garden which still forms the basis of the present garden layout.
In 1972 Ida’s Valley was bought by Major Philip Erskine and his wife Fiona. They set about restoring the house and outbuildings and the house remains today as a fitting tribute to their vision and determination.
Mrs. Erskine has kindly allowed us to picnic in the garden at Ida’s Valley. If it should rain we will take refuge in one of the outbuildings!

A selected Bibliography of information on Ida’s Valley: 
Hans Fransen (2004) The Old Buildings of the Cape
Phillida Brooke Simons (2000) Cape Dutch Houses and other old favourites
James Walton (1989) Old Cape Farmsteads
Désirée Picton- Seymour (1989) Historical Buildings in South Africa
Graham Viney (1987) Colonial Houses of South Africa
Obholzer, Baraiser & Malherbe (1985) The Cape House & its Interior
Douglas Houston (1981) Valley of the Simonsberg
Francois Smuts (Ed) (1979) Stellenbosch Three Centuries
C. de Bosdari (1953) Cape Dutch Houses and Farms



TOPIC: A vernacular restoration: Towerwater Aan de Breede Rivier
SPEAKERS: Thys Hattingh and Keith Loynes
DATE: Tuesday, 21 October 2014
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Our Chairman, Thys Hattingh and Treasurer, Keith Loynes, will present their personal restoration project which commenced in 1991 and which is on-going. The much-altered buildings, a closed-H house (circa 1820s) and what had been a longhouse and later outbuilding, had been unoccupied since 1987 and were facing inevitable demolition. As young enthusiastic and inspired Vernackers, they decided to devote twenty-five years to researching the history, sensitively restoring and preserving the remains of a nineteenth century farm werf on the loan farm Aan de Breede Rivier, later to be known as the quitrent grant Boschemansdrift.
Much of the work, including the reconstruction of a werf garden, was undertaken in person, researching, learning and applying traditional skills in the process. Professional traditional specialist trades were also enlisted in the process and included, the reconstruction of a unique traditional roof structure, the work of a coppersmith, blacksmith and a Batavian floor-tile maker, traditional brick-making (and a qualified wagon-maker!).  Visiting friends over the years (some also Vernackers) have also found themselves with rolled-up sleeves lending a helping hand!
The presentation will touch on aspects of land tenure, architectural history, restoration principles, challenges and approaches with specific reference to the project.



TOPIC:   Langa: heritage issues and challenges
SPEAKER:  Bridget O’Donoghue
DATE:  Tuesday, 16 September 2014
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Bridget O’Donoghue will examine the reasons behind the establishment of Langa, its typology, significant heritage sites and the challenges in conservation.
In 1919 the Cape Town City Council was asked by the Union government to take control over the township of N’dabeni that had been established earlier in the century, but they proposed building a new township instead that would allow the land at N’dabeni to be used to meet the increasing demand for industrial land. The government granted the council land at Uitvlugt in 1922 for the establishment of the new location. In 1923, the Natives (Urban Areas) Act laid down that all Africans should be segregated in locations. Control on movement was also introduced and later became known as ‘influx control’.

The location at Langa, as the township was known, was planned by the same town planner responsible for Pinelands Garden Suburb, an Englishman, Albert Thompson, and incorporated elements of the Garden City town-planning model, and this underlying form remains along with planning, social and architectural elements that are part of the heritage of this, Cape Town’s oldest remaining ‘township’.

Bridget is an architect and VASSA member who studied Architecture at UCT, practiced as an Architect then did an M Phil in Environmental Science and has been working in heritage and Environmental management firstly at the Cape Town City Council and then as a consultant since 2007.

An Introduction To The Identification Of Ceramics

An Introduction To The Identification Of Ceramics

An introduction to the identification of ceramics excavated from 18th and 19th century archaeological sites:
Jane Klose & Antonia Malan

August 2014

UCT Ceramics Handbook illustrations 2009

UCT Ceramics Handbook, 2009 -2014 



Coenradenberg, West Coast


LOCATION: Coenradenburg, West Coast
LEADER: Kathy Dumbrell

Coenradenberg, West Coast

We are delighted that the Smit family have agreed to allow us to visit this historic farm this month.
Coenradenburg is a wonderful example of a Cape vernacular farm werf and retains the character that it must have had a century ago. It has remained in the hands of the same family for many generations.
The Vernacs were intimately involved in recording Coenradenburg in 1975.

The fynbosfees in Hopefield takes place on the same weekend, so although the official outing will be to Coenradenberg, and members can extend their visit to the area to take in whatever else is part of the show (see )



TOPIC:  The Cape Winelands Cultural landscape
SPEAKER:  Fabio Todeschini
DATE:  Tuesday, 19 August 2014
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Fabio Todeschini is a consulting architect, city planner, urban designer and heritage practitioner, as well as an academic (emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town). In a career spanning many decades, he has played a leading role in the shaping and testing of propositions for conservation and development at the Cape. He has undertaken seminal work on the Constantia-Tokai, Franschhoek, Dwars River, Eerste River and Ida’s Valleys (done with fellow heritage enthusiasts from the late 1980s).
In his address to VASSA Fabio will discuss the identification of the ‘Cape Winelands Cultural Landscape’, the threats to this landscape, how development can be organized as a positive force and the need for an effective ‘meeting of minds’ between heritage agencies responsible for heritage resource management, on the one hand, and development planning and control, on the other.

2014 JULY

2014 JULY

LOCATION: Tulbagh – Changing Perpsectives  
LEADER: Henry Aikman

Continuity, change and loss. The theme of our outing will be the changes that followed the 1969 earthquake when much of the valley was damaged or destroyed. Reconstruction followed – in selected areas – while others were totally obliterated, to remain only in folk memory and oral histories.

Klipfontein – is one of the most interesting and authentic of all Tulbagh homesteads – beautifully situated in the Winterhoek Valley.  It is an exceptionally long thatched house measuring almost 58 metres but originally the dwelling was at one end to which were added storerooms, a stable, fermentation vats and a wine cellar with just a narrow passage (now roofed over) in between.

The Drostdy – now a museum – which was designed by LM Thibault in the early 19th century.  Here we will have a walkabout of this much-restored house, at one stage the home of Sir Meiring Beck. Adjacent to the Drostdy is the Drostdy Village, which was also largely destroyed and replaced by 1970s houses. We will look at the remnants of this once-historic settlement including the historic Jackson’s Cottage.

Church Street walk. The 32 reconstructed buildings now constitute the largest concentration of National heritage sites in a single street in South Africa. We will pass many buildings including Ballotina – acquired and restored by the late Dr Mary Alexander Cook, the authority on the history and architecture of old Cape Houses; Monbijou (De Wet House) believed to have been designed by Louis Michel Thibault and Paddagang which is set well back from the street down near the Kliprivier. It is a long, low house which may originally have been used as stables or slave quarters.
We will end up at the Tulbagh Museum where Calvin van Wyk, the curator will speak to us about the historic settlement known as Helpmekaar, the former Coloured settlement of Tulbagh, which, with Steinthal Mission were the sites of most of the deaths during the earthquake. Both, badly damaged, were totally demolished- apart from the Steinthal school building- and the former residents moved to the ‘Skema’- the apartheid-era ‘township’.

A worthwhile place to visit is number 26 Church Street which leads into the Christo Coetzee Gallery that abuts Van der Stel Street. The restored Rhenish Missionary house where the well-known artist Christo Coetzee lived with his wife Ferrie, features some of his paintings that are part of the University of Stellenbosch collection as well as some from private collections.
Also, a walk along Van der Stel Street in the relative quiet of a Saturday afternoon is worthwhile as a showcase of the changes and continuity that is Tulbagh today. Historic gems are interspersed with contemporary buildings.

Our sincere thanks to Henry Aikman – heritage and restoration architect who lives in Tulbagh, for his willingness to lead this outing and share his views on the changing cultural landscape of Tulbagh.

The Tulbagh Earthquake
The earthquake occurred at 22:03 on the 29th September 1969.
The quake measured 6,3 on the Richter Scale and as far as is known 11 people died.
In the oral histories of the people who lived in Steinthal Mission Village Oom Piet recounts: “Die meeste mense het ná die skudding na die nuwe woonbuurt in Tulbagh getrek of na ander dorpe. Selfs die murasies van die ou rouklei-en-klip-rietdakhuise is weg. Al daai dinge is tot niet. Daar’s nie ’n teken oor nie. Die grond is omgewerk. Hulle maak tuin daar”. And ‘John’adds:“Ná die aardbewing was baie van die Steinthallers se drome ook daarmee heen”.



TOPIC:  Constructing the past: the impact of changes in heritage legislation
SPEAKER:  Mike Scurr
DATE:  Tuesday, 15 July 2014
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

Mike Scurr will examine the impact that changes in heritage legislation have had on conservation practice. International standards, for example those set out in the Venice Charter and the Burra Charter informed newer approaches to conservation and these have been enshrined in the South African Heritage Resources Act. This has changed the way in which conservation is approached and implemented.
Mike Scurr is an architect and a heritage practitioner with extensive experience in the conservation and re-use of historic structures. He holds a Master’s degree in the Conservation of the Built Environment from UCT and is a partner in the practice Rennie Scurr & Adendorff. Mike is a member of the Cape Institute for Architecture’s Heritage Committee and also a part-time lecturer at CPUT.

Granary, Buitenkant St, Cape Town

2014 JUNE

LOCATION: The Old Granary, Buitenkant Street
LEADER: Graham Jacobs

Granary, Buitenkant St, Cape Town

We will be looking over this historic building also known as the old Customs House (It has also been used as a police station). It was completed in 1814 and the design has sometimes been attributed to Thibault
It is known to have been built by Herman Schutte, with the figures of Britannia and Neptune, as well as the British coat of arms on the pediment, all done by the renowned German sculptor Anton Anreith.

Graham Jacobs is an architect and heritage practitioner, now in private practice.  He is a previous member of the VASSA Committee and was head of the City’s Urban Conservation Unit. Together with Melanie Attwell, he undertook a study of the Granary in 2005 and, among other things, compiled a 3D model of the building and its evolution over time.  He will be sharing the insights this process gave him and the results of the work he and Melanie did as we walk through the building.

Kanetvlei apretorius-h77-hexrivier.png.preview


Reflecting on heritage practice: Kanetvlei, Stettyn and Oude Schuur

SPEAKER:  John Rennie
DATE: Tuesday, 17 June 2014
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads
Kanetvlei apretorius-h77-hexrivier.png.preview

Kanetvlei image: Andre Pretorius (courtesy of Stellenbosch University Library).

John Rennie reflects on some of the restoration projects that he worked on in the early Seventies and Eighties. These include Kanetvlei at Sandhills at the start of the Hex River valley, which he was involved with in 1970-71.  (Kanette are a type of reed that is found in the marshes there)  While in the employment of the architect Revel Fox he worked on Stettyn (c1977-8).
After leaving Revel Fox’s office the first job that he undertook was Oude Schuur at Nuy for the Rabie family.  All three of these houses are T shaped but with various differences which contrast interestingly.

John Rennie is a practising architect and heritage specialist who has been involved in a wide range of restoration projects for which his practice has received a number of awards. These have included both restoration work as well as adaptive re-use, a prime example being the Old Drill hall that was converted into the Central Library. He is a former Chair of the Vernacular Architecture Society, and has been involved in the society since its early days.

VASSA Journal 29 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 29

VASSA Journal Vol. 29

 JUNE 2014 – Vol. 29



Gabriël (Gawie) Fagan – The genesis and development of a new Cape vernacular : Arthur Barker

Moordenaarsgat – A contested farm in the Kareebergen : Nigel Amschwand

Breede River Valley

2014 MAY

LOCATION: Breede River Valley
LEADER: Celeste Scholz Burger

Breede River Valley

(Image by Andres de Wet)

This month we visit a number of farms in the Breede Valley – an area we have not explored for some years. The farms we will be visiting include Eensgevonden, that was built in the early 1700s on the slopes of Sidouberg and is one of the oldest surviving homesteads in the valley; De Breede Estate Hartebeest Rivier Opstal; Bosjemans Valley, that was restored by Gawie & Gwen Fagan; Wilgevlei and Hervat.
This promises to be an exciting and very informative outing.

The outing has been organised by Celeste Scholz Burger, a Vernac member who now resides in the area, hence this ‘insider’ visit!




SPEAKER:  Dr Antonia Malan
DATE: Tuesday, 20 May 2014
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.



Dr. Antonia Malan, a former Chair of VASSA will give a report on this interesting project. Antonia is a historical archaeologist, a highly experienced researcher and a heritage practitioner. She is in charge of our publications and produces our VASSA Journal.

2014 APRIL

2014 APRIL

Ladismith and Calitzdorp Districts, 26-28 April 2014

Because 2014 is the 50th anniversary of VASSA, two excursions are planned this celebratory year!
Four valleys, a town and an ostrich palace: The hidden valleys behind the towns off Route 62

Venues visited: Montagu Kruispad Kontant Winkel, Buffelsdrift, Uitspan, Zeekoegatsdrift, Voorbaat, Amalienstein, Zoar, Huisrivier pass, Calitzdorp, Kraaldoring gallery, Living Waters, Groenfontein, Kruisrivier, Limerick watermill, Rietfontein, Red Stone Hills, Stille Waters, Hoeko, Knuyswagensdrift.  

People encountered – live or dead: Graham Ross, Judy Bumstead, Clementina van der Walt, Roger Young, Phyllis Midlane, Erika Calitz, Sue van Waart, CJ Langenhoeven, Liezel van Pletzen-Vos.

Notes compiled by Judy Maguire & Pat Kramer, with photos by John Kramer, Andre Pretorius    



APRIL 2014 TALK: The Vernacular Art of Erich Mayer – Then & Now

SPEAKER: Nigel Amschwand
DATE:  Tuesday, 15 April 2014
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Campground& Mariendahl Roads


Nigel Amschwand will show some of Erich Mayer’s works of the Northern Cape that he obtained from the National Cultural History Museum, as well as some present-day photographs taken from similar viewpoints.

While Nigel was doing research for a VASSA report on the farm Grasberg / Avontuur, he discovered that Mayer had stayed on the farm for a while as a school teacher. This prompted Nigel to track his story, which he’ll share with us.
Mayer is well known for his depictions of vernacular architecture and life in the South African countryside. He spent two periods in the Onder-Bokkeveld, an area that VASSA researchers have spent a lot of time in.

Esmé Berman notes that, “The work of Erich Mayer furnishes a fairly comprehensive record of rural SA life and scenery during the first half of the 20th Century.”  Art and Artists of South Africa, (1996)
Born in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1876 Mayer moved to South Africa in 1898, seeking a better climate for his health.
He took up employment as Assistant Land-Surveyor in the Orange Free State, and a year later joined the Boer side in the Anglo-Boer War.
During his time on commando he would often sketch portraits of farmers he encountered.
In 1900 Mayer was captured by the British forces and interned at St. Helena.
In 1904 he moved to South West Africa, and continued travelling to Germany between 1904 and 1911 to take drawing and painting courses in both Karlsruhe and Stuttgart.
He returned to South Africa in 1911, settling in Potchefstroom where he befriended Pierneef and Wenning whom he regarded as close friends.
By 1914 he had his first successful exhibition; however, after the First World War broke out he was interned for 21 months in Pietermaritzburg, which took a heavy toll on his health and affected his work for several years to come.

In 1920, Mayer had an important exhibition in Stellenbosch, before deciding  to move to Johannesburg in 1921.
Following his marriage in 1928 he and his wife Margaretha Gutter travelled around South Africa recording scenes of everyday life that allowed him “to study the country, its people, and its features closely” (Van der Westhuysen).

The couple moved to Pretoria in 1931, starting a weaving and spinning school in 1933.
Whereas previously he had worked mainly in watercolour, Mayer started working in oils and also on a larger scale, completing a few large murals in the Johannesburg Main Post Office and the Monument High School in Krugersdorp.

He decided to further his studies and moved to Florence, Italy for a year in 1935, studying under Chini and Annigonni. On his return he exhibited around the country and was awarded a Medal of Honour for Painting by the ‘Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie’ in 1943. He died in Pretoria in 1960 and in 1962 his work was included in an exhibition titled ‘Art in South West Africa’ at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town and in 1972 at the Prestige Retrospective Exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum.

The annual Weekend Away (26- 28 April) to Ladysmith & Calitzdorp districts, organised by Pat Kramer, is limited to 20 members and is fully booked.

2014 MARCH

2014 MARCH

LOCATION: Atydgedacht Wine Estate, Tygerberg 
LEADER: Janine de Waal, Jean Parker 

We visit Vernac stalwart, Jean Parker, at her farm Altydgedacht Wine Estate located on Tygerberg’s fertile slopes, which has been owned by the Parker family since 1851.

On arrival, we’ll honour Jean’s helming hands over celebratory morning refreshments, before being shown around the farm by Janine de Waal, an architect who had done extensive research on this farm for her M.Phil Conservation of the Built Environment, which she’s currently completing.

It’s one of the oldest wine farms in the Durbanville region. In 1698 the farm, then known as De Tijgerbergen, was granted to a widow, Elsje van Suurwaarden. In 1832 the name was changed to AltoosGedaght (Altydgedacht).

The agricultural buildings consist of a wine cellar, old stables, storage and workshop areas, while the remaining buildings are residential.
Built in 1702 the unique working wine cellar is listed by the Durbanville Heritage Society (DHS).

We’ll hear from Dr Nico Walters, a social historian and DHS founder member, who’ll share insights and nuggets from his forthcoming book on the farm.
We plan a relaxed but informative day, mixing input on the farm’s history with anecdotes of its people plus exploration of its buildings.

After lunch in Jean’s garden we’ll be driven over the property in tractor-trailer mode courtesy her sons, to see for ourselves its geographical origins and to  comprehend its current threats. (Weather permitting).
Bring out your Persian rugs, silver goblets & finest fare to celebrate 50 years of picnic lunch tradition!





SPEAKER: Pat Kramer
DATE:  Tuesday, 18 March 2014
TIME:  20h00
VENUE:  The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Campground & Mariendahl Roads

In keeping with our 2014 theme ‘Honouring the Past  and Celebrating the Future’’ we invite you to celebrate 50 years with us at the après-AGM party.

The talk, illustrated with photos Pat and John Kramer have taken on past Vernac excursions, will remind us of many excursions we’ve enjoyed together as a society.

Pat and John are regulars on outings and excursions (especially as Pat has so efficiently organised our weekends away for a number of years).  John’s camera lens doesn’t just capture buildings, however.  In the decade since our 40th anniversary celebrations, he has also captured many fun Vernaccing moments.

Pat describes what she has planned as a “lighter look” at Vernaccing, that will, she hopes, illustrate the special social atmosphere of our outings and the fun that is interwoven with the learning and study of southern African vernacular architecture.



LOCATION: Hopefield and Surrounds 
: Kathy Dumbrell

This first outing of our 50th anniversary year is to the Hopefield area and we’ll be ending the day by revisiting Coenradenberg, which we recorded so thoroughly in 1975. See

We’ll start our day in Hopefield, which is interesting in that it first developed along the Zouterivier and only later was a grid town laid out around the second church (the first having been in Tuinstraat, on one of the earlier river plots).
We are going to focus on the river-facing early plots, where a number of buildings, including the first pastorie, survive.

We’ll have our lunch picnic under the trees in the garden of one of these old houses – our hostess, Lindy Masters, is new to Hopefield but full of passion for building a garden to do justice to the river plot and its old house (with ablutions on hand).

After lunch, we move to Koperfontein, an unrecorded gem the archaeologist Tim Hart found in the course of his work. Here we’ll see some wood and iron houses, vernacular homes in a Victorian style and an old stone-built mill that really warrants further investigation.

We end our day at Coenradenberg, the guests of the Smits – just as we were in 1975.





SPEAKER:     Pat Kramer
DATE:              Tuesday, 18 February 2014
TIME:              20h00
VENUE:          The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of  Campground and Mariendahl Roads.

Pat Kramer saw corbelled buildings for the first time in 2006 while on the Vernacs weekend away to Loxton and Carnarvon in the Karoo and decided there and then to find out more about them.

In the course of this research, thousands of kilometres were travelled and over 170 corbelled buildings located and recorded.
This work resulted in a masters degree in archaeology from the University of Cape Town.

Pat’s illustrated talk will deal with the questions everyone asks: who, why, when, how and where, and although definitive answers to some of these questions still elude us, various theories will be discussed.

The extensions or additions to corbelled buildings will also be touched on as these interesting features that give us clues as to how the builders saw themselves and wished to be perceived by others.



LOCATION: Appreciating Geoffey Pearse
LEADER: Jozef Smit

To those who missed the November 2013 outing with Jozef Smit, here is a little taster that ties in with the appreciation of the work of Geoffrey Pearse, author of Eighteenth Century Architecture in South Africa, one of the core texts for those studying 18th-century Cape architecture, both vernacular and architect-designed.

The document is called Koopmans De Wet House: The use of Golden Proportions and is compiled by Klaus F. Linscheid. With thanks to Steuart Maclennan.

Download the PDF..KoopmansdeWetHouse[1]


VASSA Journal 28 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 28

VASSA Journal Vol. 28

DECEMBER  2013 – Vol. 28



Recording on the northern frontier: The Bokkeveld case study: Tim Maggs & Nigel Amschwand

The vernacular art of Erich Mayer – then and now: Nigel Amschwand

A short architectural history of the Schotschekloof homestead, Bokaap, Cape Town: Jim Hislop



LOCATION: The West Coast Revisited 
LEADER: Thys Hattingh

Over the years, the Vernacs have visited most of this area, but we have a few surprises in store for this outing. 
A number of the farms have been recently sold and or restored and we are going to see some of them.

We start with tea at Annelise’s rammed earth home in Grotto Bay.
Next stop is Ganzekraal.  Weather and therefore road condition, permitting, Annelise is going to show us some ruins on the Bokbaai ridge that we’ve definitely never seen before.

Negotiations for access to Modderivier, Rondeberg, Klawervlei and Groote Post are still underway and so, on the day, which of these we get to see will be the surprise!

Flowers have been late this year, says Annelise, so hold thumbs for the exquisite veld adding to our adventure.  Bring your picnics to enjoy in the beautiful veld.




SPEAKER:     Annelise Krüger-Liptrot
DATE:            Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013
TIME:              20h00
VENUE:          The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of  Campground & Mariendahl Roads.

Ganzekraal is a farm dating to the early 18th century.  It was a key farm in the Groene Kloof (as the area north of Rietvlei and all the way to Geelbek on the Langebaan Lagoon was referred to in the time of the VOC) and is significant as part of the network of farms and buiteposte that stretched the VoC influence all the way from the Castle to Saldanha Bay.

Sadly, this a farm that the Vernacs have been dismally watching deteriorate steadily since it was expropriated by the State in the latter 1970s.

However, a new initiative to restore Ganzekraal is underway, spearheaded by locals, including John Duckitt and Annelise Krüger-Liptrot, who will be talking to us.  They are drawing in a range of experts to assist in the different sub-components of this big project.   Annelise will be outlining the evolution of this new initiative and sharing her passion for the place.

Annelise Krüger-Liptrot is a passionate activist for the environment, whose first big campaign was the “Save Sandy Bay” initiative.  Her home in Grotto Bay was designed by the Fagans and is built of rammed earth – a natural building technique.  She has now taken up the challenge of restoring Ganzekraal and is rallying a wide range of people in a passionate campaign.

Report - The Farm Avontuur, also known as Grasberg, Onder-Bokkeveld

Report – The Farm Avontuur, also known as Grasberg, Onder-Bokkeveld

The farm Avontuur, also known as Grasberg, Onder-Bokkeveld.

When Maureen Archer interviewed Johannes Paulus Kotze during the VASSA survey of Klipperivier/Willemsrivier, he mentioned other vierkantplaase including the farm Grasberg (Avontuur).

The farm Avontuur, also known as Grasberg, Onder-Bokkeveld, is sandwiched between Klipperivier/Willemsrivier and Bokkefontein to the north.
Distinguished mainly for the beautiful two-storey flat-roofed farm house situated there, not much investigation was carried out on the farm history.

VASSA member Julia Meintjes organised a visit to the house in 2003 and this report by Nigel Amschwand is based on the brief survey carried out at that time plus some later background research.

VASSA Report Amschwand Avontuur-Grasberg 2013




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 and watch the video.




TOPIC: A common heritage / an appropriated history: the Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement
SPEAKER: Nic Coetzer
DATE: Tuesday, 20 August 2013
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Campground & Mariendahl Roads.

In this illustrated talk, Nic Coetzer will present a chapter from his book Building Apartheid: On Architecture and Order in Imperial Cape Town.
The book is based on his doctoral research work, which explores the “significant role British architects and British architectural ideas played in facilitating white dominance and racial segregation in pre-apartheid Cape Town”.

Nic puts forward the argument that the Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement was not only driven by Arts and Crafts architectural ideas, but also the need to establish a common heritage between English and Afrikaans speaking South Africans at the Union of South Africa in 1910.

The Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement also allowed the English and Empire ideologues to appropriate a history that they had no hand in making and thereby bed themselves more convincingly into the soil of the land. The Cape Dutch gable, in particular, became a floating signifier of both union and the legitimacy of Empire at the Cape.

Nic completed his Ph.D. at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University of London in 2004.
Since then he has been a full-time lecturer at the University of Cape Town where he currently is convenor of the M.Arch design studio.

We honour the lives of three vernacular stalwarts …

Graeme Binckes who valiantly chaired the society between 1972 &’78 and again between 1981 & ’86.
Helen invites you to join in a celebration at his house in Rondebosch on Sunday 4th August, from 12 o’clock. This was Graeme’s wish: to be privately cremated and to have “a party” at home.

Major Philip Erskine, the seigneur of Ida’s Valley Stellenbosch, a gifted Cape landscape painter and an inimitable presence, militarily, horticulturally & socially.

Phillida Brooke Simons, respected historical writer who eloquently shared her fascination for the people and events that have helped shape contemporary SA.

2013 JUNE

2013 JUNE

LOCATION: Stellenbosch University’s JS Gericke Library
LEADER: Mimi Seyffert

A behind-the-scenes visit to The Manuscripts Section, home to the James Walton, André Pretorius & Joanna Marx collections
We will be hearing about and seeing the products of a project involving the James Walton and Andre Pretorius Collections before its official launch in August.
Our guide is Mimi Seyffert who has been involved in various capacities in the project.

The Manuscripts Section in the JS Gericke Library is home to around 420 manuscript collections including the James Walton, André Pretorius and, most recently, Joanna Marx collections. These collections have all been sorted and described in catalogues, indexes or inventories and are accessible to researchers.

Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service was one of six institutions who received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2009 and became part of the Research Libraries Consortium. One of the outcomes of the Consortium was to make unique material in the library more accessible for research. To this end, eight collections from the Manuscripts Section were identified to be partly digitised and made available on a digital platform.

The James Walton and André Pretorius collections were included in this selection and around 300 of Walton’s original drawings and 3000 of Pretorius’s photographs have been digitised and uploaded onto our digital collections platform. This platform will be officially launched in August this year.

Mimi Seyffert is currently Manager: Digitisation and Digital Services at Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service. She holds a B.Bibl. degree from the University of Stellenbosch and has been a Special Collections Librarian at Stellenbosch since 1998. She held the position as head of the Special Collections for the past five years, taking responsibility for the Africana, Rare Books and Manuscripts Collections.




TOPIC:           Natural Building: Drawing on the Vernacular in a contemporary practice
SPEAKER:    Andy Horn
DATE:            Tuesday, 18 June 2013
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:         The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands
(at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads)

“Natural building” is an umbrella term for the varied building techniques and styles that are used to create ecological buildings.
As an approach, natural building values working with local environments and materials.
In his search for an appropriate response to local context, Andy Horn studied vernacular building methods and materials and their social and environmental context.
Thus a two-way learning process began: Learning about how to use the old materials required engaging with people who still knew how to use them and engaging with people affirmed the value of their knowledge.  In essence, this process is a way of continuing traditions, sharing skills and keeping vernacular building as a skill set and approach alive.

In this talk, Andy Horn reflects on what he has learned along this journey, drawing on examples from particular projects as he does so.

Andy Horn is a practising architect who has been involved in a range of projects using natural building methods.
His projects include the Mamre Heritage Revitalisation Project for the City of Cape Town, rebuilding a langhuis on the Verlorenvlei and a multi purpose music and art room for a school in Shayamoya, Kokstad.

VASSA Journal Vol. 27

VASSA Journal Vol. 27

VASSA Journal Vol. 27

JUNE 2013 – Vol. 29




From Outlaws to In-laws: families and farms in the Piketberg District, c.1700 to c.1910: Antonia Malan.

The Wine Cellar on the farm Altydgedacht, Tygerberg: Janine de Waal.

2013 MAY

2013 MAY

LOCATION: Perspectives on Bo-Kaap and its Heritage
LEADER: Janine de Waal, Jim Hislop,Quahnita Samie

From the Bo-Kaap Museum Jim Hislop, (an architect currently completing her postgraduate dissertation), will walk us around the areJim Hislopa she has worked on and tell us about the experience and process.

Then, Jim Hislop, (a VASSA member who researches the history of forgotten corners of Cape Town in his spare time), will lead us past buildings that formed part of the Scotschekloof opstal and tell us about his research into this complex.
En route we will look at the surviving complex of buildings and discuss its architectural evolution and the issues that 81 Dorp Street faces.

Scotschekloof’s origins can be traced back to a market garden of the same name in what is now the Bo-Kaap, situated on the lower slopes of Lion’s Head and granted to free burgher Andries Thomasz in 1707.

Then back to the Museum where Quahnita Samie, (a heritage consultant and Bokaap resident), will tell us about the exhibition in the Community Hall which she co-curated with Iziko: ‘Mapping Bo-Kaap: History, Memories and Spaces’.
It was inspired by a mapping survey project which set out to establish a sense of the nature and location of significant spaces in the area from the residents. It was hoped that the display would be a catalyst for ongoing dialogue with residents and would encourage them to share their stories and memories with Iziko Museums.

Three local lunch recommendations from Quahnita: Biesmiellah in Wale Street, Bo-Kaap Kombuis in Yusuf Drive and Noon Gun restaurant at the top of Longmarket Street.



TOPIC: Barrie Biermann – Cape vernacular architecture as a colonial tradition
SPEAKER: André van Graan
DATE: Tuesday, 21 May 2013
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Campground & Mariendahl Roads.

At the Summer School held at UCT in 1964 there were two speakers who lectured on aspects of Cape architecture and they elicited an excitement among the audience that led to the establishment of the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa a few months later. One was James Walton & the other Dr. Barrie Biermann.

Prof.Biermann (1924 -1991) was a lecturer in architecture at the University of Natal in Durban, having completed his architectural studies at UCT in 1949 and his doctorate there in 1954. In 1946 he had travelled to Brazil and the Dutch colonies of South America, studying the colonial architecture of the region.

His understanding of the architecture of South Africa was encapsulated in his remarkable Boukuns in Suid-Afrika.
A succinctly written book, beautifully illustrated with his own drawings, it showed the main themes of the history of building in South Africa. The result of his study was a new and enriched understanding of this architecture. He was extremely erudite, a great intellect and a born teacher who, through his magical chalk drawings on the blackboard, transformed architectural history lectures.

Professor André van Graan is the past Chair of VASSA and Acting Head of Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He was fortunate enough to have been taught by Barrie Biermann when he went to study architecture in Durban. He will explore Biermann’s hypothesis of the origins of Cape Dutch architecture as a manifestation of Dutch colonialism.

SAHRIS WORKSHOP: Engaging with the National Heritage Estate through SAHRIS

17h30 to 19h30 on Wednesday 15 May at the SAHRA offices, corner Roeland & Harrington Streets

Following his presentation at our AGM in March Nic Wiltshire, Project Manager for the SAHRIS project at SAHRA, is offering a free training workshop for those who want to learn how to use the system.

Participants will learn how to identify and record new heritage sites on SAHRIS.

The grading process will also be covered as various tiers of significance defined in the National Heritage Resources Act affect the way the sites are managed.

In addition to the grading and recording features of SAHRIS, the online public participation process will be demonstrated, especially with regards to the registration of conservation bodies and their responsibilities on commenting on developments and permit applications.


VASSA deeply mourns Willem’s passing and remembers with gratitude his ”vernac” legacy and impact on buildings such as Boschendal, Ravenswood & Victoria West.
His memorial will be held on Friday 24 May, 3.30 pm at
St Cyprian’s School Chapel, Gorge Road, Oranjezicht, followed by refreshments in the school Voorkamer.

Please would you advise his daughter Vanessa Rousseau if you will be attending:
Tel 021 794 2218, Fax 086 670 9731.
Mobile: 083 264 0943, email:

2013 APRIL

2013 APRIL

LOCATION: The Perdeberg
LEADER: Jeanne Bull

Known as “Brouwerskloof” and granted in 1746 to Coetzee, there is a long history to this farm, tucked up against the slopes of the Perdberg. It is mentioned in Thunberg’s Travels at the Cape and the journals of Brink and Rhenius.

We’ll be viewing an example of current vernacular building, constructed to impress on first sight with its gabled façade. There will be time to analyze the “found” materials used in its construction.
The outbuilding has vestiges of old wine vats – unfortunately broken before the current owners arrived.
A small outbuilding, renovated as a bedroom, has signs of having been a stable or livery room. At its door, almost inhibiting entrance, stands an oak-tree said to be at least 150 years old. We can examine the overlay of history and hear about plans for future use of the property.

Our hosts, Judy and Mike Orpen, will welcome us onto their werf with refreshments.
The current homestead has been renovated and extended. The farm has been divided up and the adjoining property has an imposing original gabled residence with views across to False Bay (we hope to have permission to walk across to see it). These buildings have all suffered degradation and fire and have been rebuilt.

Later in the day Judy (née Bain) has a fascinating tale to tell of her grandfather Donald’s encounter with indigenous people and how this story is peeping through into the present.
We are invited to shelter in their dining room with our picnic lunches to escape either weather or flies.



TOPIC: The Fascination of Building Materials: Looking at old Cape houses 
SPEAKER: Dr Mathilda Burden
DATE: Tuesday, 16th April 2013
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Mathilda Burden, an acclaimed expert on South African culture and history, will offer a presentation with text and visual material on a few building materials used in old Cape architecture.

The talk focuses on lime and lime burning, with short references to the first bricks made at the Cape and the use of reed.
Other building materials are mentioned to supply context, but have not been researched thoroughly.
The work done by James Walton on this subject is invaluable, especially for discussions on the lime kilns.
In addition, several primary sources in the form of documentary evidence have been consulted and interviews have been conducted.

The process of lime burning from shells is explained and compared to lime burnt from limestone.
The approach to the subject is from a cultural historical point of view, and not an archaeological one.



TOPIC:           The new SAHRIS online system
SPEAKER:     Nic Wiltshire
DATE:            Tuesday, 19 March 2013
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:         The Athenaeum,
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads

Nic Wiltshire will be introducing us to an exciting new system he has coordinated and developed in his role as project manager with SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency).
Nic is an archaeologist with a particular interest in rock art of the Cederberg and has approached various heritage projects from an IT perspective.
What makes this exciting for Vernacs is that the system is designed to facilitate public participation in heritage conservation.

SAHRA is the national body constituted by our Heritage Resources Act and is the “mother” body of all the Provincial Heritage Resources Agencies, such as Heritage Western Cape.

SAHRIS is an online system that is easy to use, created from freeware (software that doesn’t need licences) and seems set to make development and heritage generally a much more open and public process.

SAHRIS owes its existence to the responsibilities of SAHRA as outlined in the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA). SAHRA is the “parent” body of heritage permitting authorities, with provinces and local authorities all working within “delegated authority” from SAHRA.

In managing heritage resources, SAHRA needs to have an inventory of heritage resources and sites and to assess applications to alter, damage or destroy these sites. They need to include public participation in their processes. To meet the responsibilities outlined here, one of SAHRA’s recent projects has been the development of an online heritage management tool.

The result is an online system for managing heritage applications and for building a database of heritage sites and objects.  It’s called SAHRIS.

So, why is this system so exciting?
Well, for starters, it hasn’t cost the taxpayer a bomb – the software used is free.
Secondly, it is designed to make registering simple – as an interested party in an area or for a particular site or resource type or for a particular development.
Thirdly, it makes it easy for anybody to add information on a site or resource, so we can bring new sites and resources to the attention of the authorities easily.

Because SAHRA’s interpretation of who the NHRA defines as interested parties to heritage applications is, essentially, that all citizens of SA have the right to participate in heritage management, anybody can register on SAHRIS and comment in their personal capacity.

Organisations like VASSA may register as Conservation Bodies and nominate a spokesperson to comment on matters that fall within their area of interest.
Obviously, we are going to register VASSA as interested in vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes within the Western Cape!
This is going to make our Watchdog portfolio’s work much easier and will give us a real voice.

Another exciting component of SAHRIS is that any member of the public can add a potential heritage site or object to the database.
You register as a user on the SAHRIS website and then add the details of a site you’ve identified and documented. The SAHRIS administrator and the case officers in whose area of jurisdiction your proposed site falls then check your submission for credibility before adding it to the database.
Then, anyone wanting to develop on the identified site or sell or alter the object will know as soon as they log on to SAHRIS to submit and application, that the site has been identified and who the interested parties are to contact for consultation. No more protestations from developers and buyers that they didn’t know what the significance of the site/object was!
For those of you who want to explore SAHRIS, log on to 

In addition to this talk, we’re hoping to get Nic Wiltshire to give VASSA members a SAHRIS training workshop – So watch this space and get ready to book for the workshop!

There isn’t one this month because of the Easter weekend dates.

As is VASSA’s tradition, each year after the chair’s report and other matters of business that precede a shorter-than-usual talk, members are invited to celebrate next door over wine and snacks. Joy Saxon in her inimitable fashion is co-ordinating things. If you’d like to help please call her: 073 024 2747

The 2013 rate are:

R175 for singles
R300 for family
R265 for SACAP members
You received your invoice with last month’s newsletter & payment is due before April 25th



LOCATION: Tracking Dirk Visser in the Central City

Dirk Visser’s work can be characterised by restorations he led, advice he gave, collaborations he was involved in and championing of threatened Cape buildings.

We start at Stalplein, where, beneath our feet, is a parking garage he was involved in.
From this unorthodox start, we’ll embark on an exploration of some of Dirk’s works, and hear about collaborations from some of the architects he worked with on projects in this part of the city.

Those who remember Dirk, will remember his vernaccing was also about stories and connections – and so too, we will hear stories, this time about Dirk, on our walk. 

The context of built heritage conservation has completely changed within this time with the advent of new legislation, heritage practices and authorities, to say nothing of the technological revolution.




TOPIC:             Dirk van Velden Visser, Architect & Champion of Cape Vernacular
SPEAKER:       Kathy Dumbrell
DATE:              Tuesday, 19th February 2013
TIME:               20h00
VENUE:           The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads.

In a career spanning nearly fifty years, Dirk Visser left his mark in various ways on a wide range of Cape vernacular buildings.

Fittingly, it started with one of his student measured drawings being published in the reference work by Pearse.
From there, he increasingly became involved in the vernacular built heritage, and led numerous restorations over his career.

But his “head full of information” (as he described his huge body of knowledge) was not a jealously guarded resource – he shared his knowledge widely and thus many architects in Cape Town have stories to tell of collaborations with Dirk.
This talk, drawn from interviews with Dirk, gives an overview of his career as he charted it.

Dirk Visser graduated from UCT School of Architecture in the 1950s, working in London and Zambia before settling back in Cape Town and starting his practice with classmates from his Archi School days. Thus the firm of Munnik Visser Black and Fish was born.
He continued to practice until the mid-1990s, when he retired from practice but continued to advise others from his home, Vredenburg (Mowbray). He died in 2003.

Kathy Dumbrell is an independent heritage practitioner whose decision to enter this field was strongly influenced by Dirk’s passion for vernacular architecture and the history of Cape Town.
After a BAS from UCT, she did an interdisciplinary Honours degree in research and Cape history.
She is now in private practice.

Report - The Farm Klipperivier / Willemsrivier, in the Onder-Bokkeveld

Report – The Farm Klipperivier / Willemsrivier, in the Onder-Bokkeveld

The Historical Survey Group, a pretentious name for the loose grouping of interested individuals otherwise known as the “Bokkeveld Bunch”, initially set out to survey five farmsteads in the area known as the Onder-Bokkeveld that surrounds the present day town of Nieuwoudtville.
These were: Bokkefontein, Groenrivier, Klipperivier, Matjesfontein and Papkuilsfontein. 

The surveys were carried out in the years 1999–2001 and the first to be completed both in the field and in publication was that of Matjesfontein.
There followed a hiatus due to many factors, one being the writing of a book on the history of the area by one of the present authors.
The publication, A Short history of the Onder-Bokkeveld, incorporated much of the field work carried out on the farms Bokkefontein, Groenfontein and Papkuilsfontein, together with more research on the whole area.

Klipperivier Report

VASSA Journal Vol. 26

VASSA Journal Vol. 26

VASSA Journal Vol. 26

DECEMBER 20172- Vol. 26



Town and village layout at the Cape, with special reference to the mission village: Hans Fransen

Robertson, 1853-1905: a study of the development of the town and of the architecture: Karin Ström



TOPIC:           What influenced the historical Cape farm “werf”?
SPEAKER:     Dr Gwen Fagan
DATE:            Tuesday, 20 November 2012
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:         The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Dr Gwen Fagan will talk about the influences that determined the layout of the historical farm “werf” at the Cape, which includes the Eastern, European and local factors.
She will illustrate the talk with examples of “werwe” from the 17th to the 19th century.

Gwen studied medicine at the Universityof Cape Town(MB.CH.B. 1948) and worked as a medical practitioner until 1969.
Afterwards she joined her husband’s firm, Gabriël Fagan Architects, as a historical researcher and landscape planner. In 1995 she did her PhD at the University of Cape Town: An Introduction to the man-made landscape at the Cape from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Some recent academic activities include the research into early Cape defences, with particular reference to the Chavonnes Battery that forms part of an exhibit for the Batteryruins and for the ruin reconstruction, a publication on the work of GT Fagan and a publication of her thesis on the man-made landscape 1652 – 1900.

She has received numerous awards and honours:
A Gold Medal with GT Fagan from the National Monuments Council for the research & restoration work inChurch Streetand the Drostdy in Tulbagh.
The Cape Tercentenary Award for historical research and historical landscape restoration.
A Gold medal from the Simon van der Stel Foundation for her contribution to the conservation of South Africa’s historic gardens and architecture.
The Zoë Gilbert Award for her pioneering research on historic rose varieties from the Federation of Rose Societies of South Africa (and also has a rose named after her).
In 1993 she received a Honorary Doctorate: D.Phil (HC) from the University of Stellenbosch.

She has co-authored several major publications with Gawie, who was a former VASSA chairman.
(See VASSA’s Special Edition in celebration of Gawie’s 80th Birthday in 2005)

“Church Street in the Land of Waveren”,
(Kerkstraat in’t Land van Waveren), 1975
Roses at the Cape of Good Hope”, 1988 – 2011
Nauti se Gwendoline“, 1999 (Afrikaans biography of her childhood)
Elsenburg – a chapter on the history and architecture of the 18th Century farm complex
Dr Gwen Fagan is a renowned international speaker and a widely respected historical landscape designer.


Remember last month’s announcement about a project at the Lutheran Church in Strand St to catalogue the archives, architecture and objects in the church?

Well – project manager Sally Titlestad was reported in the Cape Towner dated Oct 25 to have opened a treasure chest of information after discovering records in a vault.
She said few people were aware of a little door in the vestry where they found a series of volumes dating back to 1743 that had never been accessed before, which are ”extraordinary records of Cape Towns social history” that unlock hidden treasures found in the church’s records of its baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Historical archaeologist Dr Antonia Malan is part of the team working on these precious documents.

A workshop was held recently for those interested in learning more about the project and this extraordinary ”living history”.
If you want to find out more, call 079 816 0205, email or visit



LOCATION: Paarl area farmsteads
LEADER: Gwen Fagan

We meet on the farm Salomosvlei iin the Paarl area, where Dr Gwen Fagan will lead us through the layout of the “werf”.

We follow with the farms Goederust and Roggeland, where we will conclude the outing with our annual year end picnic.

Pack your delectables and celebrate the last outing of the year with panache!






LOCATION: Select explorations in vernacular architecture
LEADER: Heinrich Wolff

Explorations in vernacular architecture by Heinrich Wolff, with guided site visits to No 24 Alfred Street and 13 Milner Road Observatory & a presentation of Isaacs House in Parkwood

We meet at 10:00 at “The Warehouse” on 24 Alfred Street in Cape Town. The owner, John Hulme will lead the tour of this Victorian building together with Heinrich Wolff.
They’ll share the history of this fascinating dockside warehouse and the technical challenges of adjusting this building to new uses. 

At 12:00 we meet up again at 13 Milner Road Observatory.
Heinrich and Ilze will lead a tour of the adaptation of this Victorian house.
A short presentation will be made of Isaacs House in Parkwood; though the house is unfortunately not available for viewing on the day since the owner is getting married!





TOPIC:            Explorations in vernacular architecture
SPEAKER:       Heinrich Wolff
DATE:              Tuesday, 16 October 2012
TIME:               20h00
VENUE:           The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Heinrich Wolff will share with us his explorations and documentation of vernacular architecture.

In 2001 he bought a property in Bonnievale that had an old house on it, with an unknown history. Over the next two years he set out to educate himself about the Cape vernacular architecture. As the study progressed he focused on the houses of the Breede River valley around 1750 – 1850.

The house in Bonnievale is situated next to the old main road of Bonnievale. This fact necessitated an understanding of the road network of the Breede River valley and buildings of the old main road.
The original use of the building remains unclear, but several buildings of similar morphology were investigated.

Heinrich will share his process of measuring the building and his way of working through uncertainties to establish a greater level of understanding about a project.

The work in Bonnievale will be set in context of ideas developed on other heritage projects that he was involved in.

Professionally Heinrich is in practice with his wife Ilze. Together they run a design studio concerned with developing an architectural practice of consequence through the mediums of design, advocacy, research and documentation.

Heinrich’s work has been exhibited internationally, the most significant exhibitions being the Venice Biennale (2006 & 2010), the Sao Paulo Biennale (2005 & 2007) and the South American Architecture Biennale – Ecuador (2008).

In 2011 Heinrich was selected as the Designer of the Future by the Wouter Mikmak Foundation (Netherlands).
In 2007, he won the prestigious DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture.
With Jo Noero, Heinrich received the Lubetkin Award in 2006 from the RIBA for the best building in the world (outside the EU) for the Red Location Museum of Struggle in Port Elizabeth. He has won several other international and South African awards for excellence in design, most notably for public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

Heinrich has taught at universities in South Africa and in the USA and currently holds an adjunct senior lectureship at the University of Cape Town.
He is also a founding member of Docomomo South Africa, an organisation dedicated to documentation and conservation of Modern Architecture.

Some of his heritage projects include the Patel House in Pageview, Johannesburg (1998), one of the few buildings to survive the forced removals, the development of the PELIP offices in Red Location, Port Elizabeth(1999), an adaptation of a prefabricated corrugated iron clad British Army building that became a ‘location’ building, 24 Alfred Street, Cape Town (2005), House Wolff in Observatory (2007) and the Isaacs House in Parkwood (2010), also a corrugated iron clad, Oregon Pine structure.


For news about a project to catalogue the archives, architecture and objects in the Lutheran Church, Strand Street, visit the website
And please DO indicate your interest in the project.


On behalf of all who enjoyed the Piketberg away weekend, a sincere thank you to Pat Kramer & Antonia Malan (and their spouses) for their heroic organisation, deeply informative tour notes & adaptability to circumstances beyond their control (the bus broke down). We will all be chipping in for a louder whistle for future excursions!


Studies & Debates in Vernacular Architecture in the Western Cape

Studies & Debates in Vernacular Architecture in the Western Cape

Workshop Proceedings: Studies & Debates in Vernacular Architecture in the Western Cape,
Nov 2004, convened by Antonia Malan and assisted by Sally Titlestad.

Contributers: Andrew Berman, Melanie Attwell, Tariq Toffa, Hans Fransen, Fabio Todeschini, Sally Titlestad, Marthinus van Bart, Len Raymond, Yvonne Brink, Antonia Malan, Andre van Graan, Joanna Marx, Wendy Arendse, Sarah Winter, Nicolas Baumann, Henry Aikman, Stephen Townsend

Session 1: Views of Vernacular Architecture & Landscapes
Andrew Berman, Melanie Attwell, Tariq Toffa, Hans Fransen, Fabio Todeschini

Session 2: Approaches & Applications – Resources & Recording
Sally Titlestad, Marthinus van Bart, Len Raymond, Yvonne Brink, Antonia Malan

Session 3: Approaches & Applications – Heritage Conservation
Andre van Graan, Joanna Marx, Wendy Arendse, Sarah Winter, Nicolas Baumann, Henry Aikman, Stephen Townsend

VASSA Workshop Proceedings 2004



The Sandveld – Verlorenvlei and Piketberg, 29-30 September 2012

From outlaws to in-laws: farms and families in the Piketberg District, c1700-c1900
Traces of 18th and early 19th century routes and settlements, and scattered farmsteads, can still be found, but since the 1960s, when the Vernacs first travelled these roads, there has been almost total loss of the more fragile buildings constructed of reeds and unbaked clay that were typical of the region. (See VASSA Journal 23 2010).

During the 19th century the key to success for Piketberg farmers was to diversify between livestock, grain farming and fishing as well as trading between the interior and the coast. But most of the few surviving buildings have been renovated, remodeled, restored or rebuilt and their original fishing/farming context has often been forgotten or disappeared.

Venues visited: Verlorenvlei, Bonteheuwel, Uithoek, Koopmansdrif, Koopmanskraal, Klaar(e)fontein, Deze Hoek (mill), Versfeld Pass,  Dunn’s Castle, Kapteinskloof, Banghoek (Boschkloof), Ezelshoek (‘t Voetpad, Ezelsvoetpad), Papkuilsvlei, Redelinghuys, Klipfontein, Aurora, Wittewater Mission 

Notes compiled by Antonia Malan, with photos by Nigel Amschwand, John Kramer, Hans Fransen, Hugh Floyd, Willem Malherbe, Andre Pretorius, James Walton 

Click here to download the full PDF



TOPIC:                From outlaws to in-laws: farms and families in the Piketberg District, c1700-c1900
SPEAKER:          Dr Antonia Malan
DATE:                  Tuesday, 18 September 2012
TIME:                   20h00
VENUE:               The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads

A former VASSA chair Antonia is responsible for the Publications Portfolio of our Society.
She directed a significant transcription project capturing archival papers from the VOC period and the first decades of British rule at the Cape, in collaboration with the national archives of the Netherlands.
As a free-lance historical archaeologist and heritage consultant, she works closely with the Archaeology Contracts Office at UCT, teaches part-time in inter-disciplinary programmes, and is actively involved in local heritage issues, sitting on statutory heritage committees.

Antonia’s talk is on the coastal Sandveld and rugged Piketberg mountain passes and valleys that could be regarded as the Wild West of early South African history, which is where we’ll be going on our weekend away this month.

Stories of “rogues, rebels and runaways” (cf Nigel Penn) arose from the harsh and competitive environment as frontiersmen jostled for control of cattle, water and pasturage.

The highway to the north, and its fabled riches, passed this way, attracting adventurers, hunters and robbers. Later, some families leased or bought the land and built simple vernacular farmsteads, others created mission hamlets, several trekked further northwards with their livestock.

Early European explorers in the area include Simon van der Stel who reached Verlorenvlei in 1679 and Olof Bergh who crossed the vlei in 1682.
Bergh crossed the vlei at Wittedrift (Redelinghuys) and it is no doubt in commemoration that the pass from Redelinghuys to Aurora (the MR534) is named after this adventurer.
Carl Thunberg travelled along the eastern side of the Piketberg in 1774, calling in on hospitable farmers en route as many others did before and since.

Traces of 18th and early 19th century routes and settlements, and scattered farmsteads, can still be found, but since the 1960s, when the Vernacs first travelled these roads, there has been almost total loss of the more fragile buildings constructed of reeds and unbaked clay that were typical of the region.
(See VASSA Journal 23 2010).

Familiar T, U and H plans are rarely met with in the Piketberg (cf Hans Fransen). The same simple rectangular buildings continued to be erected from the beginning of the 18th century into the 1980s and it is sometimes difficult to determine the age of a particular building.
J.C. Poortermans lived at theCape from 1833 until his death at Paarl in 1870. He travelled through the area in 1848 and 1849 and left a legacy of naive but informative pictures of the early structures and their surroundings, the veracity of which have been assessed by James Walton.

During the 19th century the key to success for Piketberg farmers was to diversify between livestock, grain farming and fishing as well as trading between the interior and the coast. But most of the few surviving buildings, such as at Verlorenvlei, have been renovated, remodelled, restored or rebuilt and their original fishing/farming context has often been forgotten or disappeared.

Another and perhaps not so well known layer of history is manifested by the presence of several comparatively grand houses built between 1899 and 1905, which were perhaps financed by the profitable supply of mules, horses, fodder and other essentials during the South African war.

Farmsteads often comprise groups of dwellings housing the owner of the farm and employees, and several of his relations. In some instances two or three families occupied separate parts of a single building.
In marginal areas like this, the more land you owned the better, so families consolidated their holdings by repeated intermarriage.
They also spread their dynastic networks widely to incorporate a range of farm types and in-laws, to the Bokkeveld and beyond.
(See VASSA Klipperevier Report 2012).
Fortunately, some descendants of these families still live in the area or own the properties that their ancestors built, and their stories embody a wealth of oral history.

The Outing is the weekend excursion to the Sandveld on 29-30 September.

If you are not taking part in this excursion, another way of celebrating Heritage Day on Sep 24 would be to search out VASSA journals containing architectural ‘guides’ to accessible places – such as Stormsvlei, Paarl, Roodezand Pass, Muratie & Morgenhof, The Gardens,- and take yourself and friends for an outing? See

Lutheran Church

For news about a project to catalogue the archives, architecture and objects in the LutheranChurch, Strand Street, visit the website
And please indicate your interest in the project.

Gawie Fagan

In Honour of Gawie Fagan – A Special Edition (2005)

A Special Edition in celebration of Gawie Fagan’s 80th birthday (15 Novenber 2005)

Tributes and pictures by:
Andre van Graan,
John Rennie,
Len Raymond,
Ashley Lillie,
Heinrich Wolff,
Hans Fransen,
Oskar Kreft,
Henry & Helena Faga

Price R20

Report - The Farm Matjesfontein in the Bokkeveld

Report – The Farm Matjesfontein in the Bokkeveld

Report on the Farm Matjesfontein in the Bokkeveld

This is the first publication to emerge from the Bokkeveld Project, centered on the town of Nieuwoudtville.
The project covers individual buildings, styles, raw materials and how these differ from the vernacular of other areas. It looks at the composition of the werf and how this fits into the landscape.
It focusses on the people of the farms and their lifestyles; not just the owners but also the landless classes of people who made a contribution to farm histories.
(2004 edition).

The VASSA project was conceived when Julia Meintjes approached VASSA about the deterioration of old farmsteads in the area. She and her husband Willem Strydom had bought part of the Matjesfontein werf and restored several buildings, as far as possible using original materials and techniques.They are very concerned about the need for restoration or at least recording of the built environment before all is lost.

VASSA members came up trumps; an excellent team of volunteers came forward and the first working trip, 12-14 May 2000, was to record Matjesfontein. Nigel Amschwand, already knew the Bokkeveld and its history well, and Tim Maggs had made a preliminary reconnaissance in 1999. 

Click here to download the full PDF



A Tribute to the Donkey: James Walton

A Tribute to the Donkey: James Walton

A Tribute to the Donkey:
James Walton

Reviews the role of the donkey in South African culture and built environment.
A brief history of the donkey and its assistance to man, including donkey carts, karretjie people of the Karoo and horse-mills.  
Privately published by James Walton in 1999.

Price – R40

Coenradenberg - A Survey

Coenradenberg – A Survey

A valuable record of material gathered on Coenradenburg, an old Cape farm near Hopefield in 1975/6 by VASSA team members:

Margaret Cairns,
Willem Malherbe,
John Rennie,
Phillip Erskine,
Maureen Archer,
Gwen Vaughan-Williams

With photos by Sue Henderson & Helen Binckes
And illustration & design by Mickey Munro

Price – R20

Background to the TEPC Project that generated the Guidebooks

Background to the TEPC Project that generated the Guidebooks

The TEPC project (Transcription of Estate Papers at the Cape) and its predecessor, the TANAP transcription project (Resolutions of the Council of Policy), have made available to the public a searchable database of documents relating to180 years of political and social history of the Cape of Good Hope. This work was funded by the Dutch government.

TEPC published three guidebooks to introduce ‘beginner researchers’ to the historical resources and heritage of the Western Cape.
The guidebooks use everyday language to demystify research methods and sources.
They present research as detective work that draws on various kinds of evidence, and tell detective stories about interesting research people have done.

Even if you’re an experienced researcher, they offer you something of interest

The first guidebook in the series, Slaves at the Cape (revised edition 2005), is about how to research slave roots and heritage.
The second guidebook, Household Inventories at the Cape (2005), looks at people’s homes and families and possessions and follows up clues about the lives of slaves.
While Places at the Cape (2008) is a guide to finding out about houses, farms, settlements and cultural landscapes of the Western Cape.

These books will guide you through how to begin your research, what sources you can use and where you can look for them.
You don’t need any previous training in research or any special qualifications and it doesn’t matter at all if you never did history at school.
These guides will also tell you about how many other people – community researchers, historians, archaeologists and genealogists – have discovered stories about these topics.

As Stewart Harris, architectural historian & former VASSA chair says:

Be curious – go and look, walk around and take time to stand and stare.
It all starts with curiosity. When you describe a street or a house or garden or a row of trees, ask yourself: what is it doing, what does it consist of?

There are three steps: The first step is to look and look again. The second step is guesswork, you need to surmise or guess why it came about. The third step is to do more research …

As a boy I became intrigued with places and how they came to be. Later on, living in Tamboerskloof, I became intrigued with Victorian houses, the rare terraces, the villas, strange Art Deco buildings in my immediate environment – and more and more curious about how Table Valley evolved.

I browsed through maps and photos of the area, looked at the beautiful books in the National Library, taking pleasure in discovery.

As my knowledge grew, I started doing guided walks in the area with people who had similar curiosity.
I shared what I knew and asked questions. I was finding little lanes and old river courses and old people know about these things, they had stories to tell about who lived where, who kept chickens at the back, how things used to be.

My contribution was that I taught people to stare …  it’s odd to stop in the street and stare, staring is rude, even architects don’t really look at that street, that house, that cabinet, that forward projecting element, carving, shape.”



LOCATION: Heart of Stellenbosch
LEADER: Stuart Hermansen

We’ll visit Daneel Diamonds, La Gratitude [Big Easy Restaurant] & La Gratitude Office Park in Dorp Street.
In Ryneveldt St, the Cape Town Fish Market & the Village Museum.

We’ll hear about the University of Stellenbosch’s current urban design guidelines for its campus, and the Stellenbosch’s municipal urban design guidelines as we wander around.

Lastly we’ll take in The STIAS Institute in Jonkershoekweg.





TOPIC:            Contemporary Construction – in the Vernacular Style
PEAKER:      Stuart Hermansen
DATE:             Tuesday, 21 August 2012
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:          The Athenaeum,
Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Stuart Hermansen takes us on the road he’s travelled professionally and talks about some of the projects he’s been involved in as a heritage architect.
Starting out in 1995, he co-founded Team Architecture, a practice where he worked on a selection of heritage projects, such the restoration of Weltevreden in Stellenbosch, the Van der Bijl family grave in Lynedoch and the remodelling of Groenvlei farm and werf.

Since 2000 Stuart has been trading as HB Architects, working as a specialist professional principal specifically dealing with heritage policy formulation and detailed architectural restoration, from urban cultural place making to providing architectural services for specialist heritage skills.

A glimpse of some the projects undertaken …

  • The restoration of the 1912 Paarl Regional Magistrates Court;
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church, Strand Street where as the heritage architect he assessed the three historic buildings that make up the Church complex for application to SAHRA as a Grade 1 [National] Heritage Site, and assessed the condition of the buildings for future remedial/restoration work;
  • The Groote Schuur Estate, comprising some fifty buildings, including the well-known Herbert Baker residence;
  • The Stellenbosch historical Middedorp, where he was commissioned by Historical Homes of SA to develop a web-based register accessible to authorities and public alike and flexible enough to be applied to assess, grade and nominate other historic urban centres for heritage resources management. The project has been handed to SA Heritage Trust for further development;
  • The Bergzicht Precinct upgrade & Church Street Renewal;
  • The historic Cape Georgian residence van der Bijlhuis in Markstraat, Stellenbosch;
  • At Goede Hoop in Simondium, where he compiled a conservation management plan for the farm in terms of the SAHRA requirements and the conditions of the Boschendal Founders Estate
  • Ida’s Valley Homestead, with extensive work to the famous historic homestead.

Some public projectshe’s been involved with:

  • The demolition of the Athlone Power Station Cooling Towers;
  • Nietvoorbij HeritageGarden, Stellenbosch;
  • Old Landboussaal, Noordwalstraat;
  • Ida’s Valley Community Initiative Association.

Visitors are welcome to this free talk


The La Motte Museum, Franschhoek is hosting a series of talks during the upcoming months.

  • Thursday, 14 September 2012 Cape Dutch Architecture – Dr Matilda Burden who discusses the relevance of Cape Dutch Architecture in today’s world with reference to “kalkbrandery” along the West Coast and its relevance for CapeArchitecture.
  • Thursday, 11 October 2012 Pierneef and what influenced him – Amanda Botha
  • Thursday, 8 November 2012 Painting, Print-making and Ceramics – Ella-Lou O’Meara

For reservations & more information: Contact Ingrid at +27(0)21 876 8850 or email


It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Una van der Spuy, four days short of her hundreth birthday.
We salute her creativity and vision.

We also share with members the news of the death of former members Cathy Maunder – she and Hugh were long time members, and of Cato Meaker.



TOPIC:       Dr Hans Fransen: His work; his life
SPEAKER: Jozef Smit
DATE:        Tuesday, 17 July  2012
TIME:         19h45 for 20h00
VENUE:     The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Hans Fransen has been active in the architecture, art and music circles of South Africafor more than half a century.
As a previous chairman of VASSA he needs no further introduction to any of its members.
VASSA deeply appreciates and would like to acknowledge his enormous contribution to the South African cultural landscape.
Jozef Smit will present a lecture on Dr Hans Fransen and his multiple achievements.

Brief Biography
Art and architecture historian and author of seminal books on South African architecture such as the definitive The Old Houses of The Cape  and The Old Buildings of the Cape co-authored with Mary Cook; The Old Buildings of the Cape (2004) and Old Towns and Villages of the Cape (2006), as well as standard reference works, including Guide to the Museums of Southern Africa (1978), Three Centuries of South African Art (1982), A Cape Camera (1994), plus his recent Erik Laubscher, a Life in Art (2009).

He has been involved in arts, culture and conservation since immigrating fromHollandin 1955 – as curator of the Stellenbosch and Groot Constantia museums, assistant director of the SA National Gallery and until retirement, director of the Michaelis Art collection.

As well as a doctorate from the Universityof KwaZulu-Natal, he was awarded an honorary D.Phil. by the Universityof Stellenbosch, and a knighthood by the Netherlandsfor his pioneering work.

The fieldwork for one book alone, which covers over 5 000 buildings and includes 700 photographs, required travelling 25 000 km by car and 5 000 km by bicycle. Good thing that he’s a veteran of six Comrades Marathons and eighteen Argus Cycle Tours!

Jozef Smit is a practicing architect living in Cape Town. Together with Norval Louw they are the founding partners of the practice Smit met Louw Architects which is based in Paarl.
He has a keen interest and knowledge of South Africa’s architectural heritage. He endeavours to make all aware of the conservation of our building heritage.

Visitors are welcome to this free talk

2012 JULY

2012 JULY

LOCATION: Stellenbosch at its most picturesque c.1860
LEADER: Jozef Smidt 

The outing aims to acknowledge research done by Dr Hans Fransen while curator at Stellenbosch Museum.

We meet at Stellenbosch NG Moeder gemeente / Dutch Reformed Church at the head of Church Street to see buildings of Stellenbosch at its most picturesque c.1860.

This is a morning only outing as July cannot be relied upon for picnicking, but if anyone wants to stay on, there are several good coffee shops and restaurants in the vicinity.


June 2012 Talk

June 2012 Talk

TOPIC: Vergelegen Revisited
SPEAKER: John Rennie
DATE: Tuesday, 19 June 2012
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

John will take us on a tour through time of Vergelegen wine estate, using slides from his archive built up over the years of involvement with the complex.
John’s practice Rennie Scurr Adendorff, has acted as principal agent on major civic and state projects, such as the Cape Archives, SAHRA’s head office, the East London City Hall, and Vergelegen homestead in Somerset West.

Vergelegen today is a wine estate, housing a range of buildings that display different styles of gables and architecture, ranging from the C18th vernacular to the early C20th restoration architects.

As Phillida Brooke Simons says in Cape Dutch Houses, historically Vergelegen is among the most important houses at the Cape; it is also one of the most beautiful and, arguably, the best preserved.

Granted to Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700, he arbitrarily expanded this land to about ten times the size of the average burgher’s farm, shanghai’d slave labour from The Company to toil his fields, flooded the market with his produce, while neglecting his official duties and allocating choice contracts to chosen friends.
All of which caused consternation among the locals who blew the whistle on his misdeeds, which prompted the VOC to strip Willem of his rank and ‘’order Vergelegen’s broad acres to divided up, disposed of and the house demolished.’’

The estate was sold and divided into 4 separate farms: Vergelegen, Lourensford, Morgenster and Cloetenburg.
From 1706 it passed through a succession of owners until 1798, when the Theunissen family took ownership for about a century, while in 1917 Sir Lionel & Lady Florence Phillips transformed the dilapidated estate into a floral and cultural treasure trove. After their deaths it was sold to the Barlow Family in 1941 and purchased by Anglo American in 1987.


Her original training in natural sciences led to many years of biomedical research and academic editing. During her time in London in the sixties she developed an abiding interest in historical architecture which she followed up once back in Cape Town, by organising many excursions for the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa, of which she was chairperson from 1989 until 1994.

Recruited by the NMC, she was responsible for heritage resources management in the Great and Little Karoo, Southern Cape and Overberg. She served on committees for large projects such as the Gamkaskloof Advisory Committee and the Cango Caves Scientific Advisory Committee.

When NMC was superseded by SAHRA, the emphasis shifted from preserving individual buildings to defining, retaining and enhancing the special qualities of places and cultural landscape. Throughout her career she maintained contact with conservation bodies and municipal officials in Cape Town and in country towns.

Her special interest in historical technology, engineering and industrial structures led to her involvement with Mostert’s Mill, where she chaired the Friends of Mostert’s Mill (FoMM), a daughter of VASSA, established in 1993.

She was a member of the Mills Section of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) (UK) and The International Molinological Society (TIMS) for decades.

2012 June

2012 June

LOCATION: Vergelegen Revisited
LEADER: John Rennie

We meet at Vergelegen to see as many of the buildings as we can that John Rennie features in his June talk.
Since Kathy Dumbrell and Harriet Clift are currently doing a heritage audit of the Somerset West area, they may be able to input further…

This is a morning outing as June cannot be relied upon for picnicking, but if anyone wants to stay on, Vergelegen has just launched “Stables’’ a bistro style restaurant. Bookings essential 021 847 2156. Or there’s Sofia’s on neighbouring Morgenster estate 021 847 1993.


2012 MAY

2012 MAY

LOCATION: The Groot Drakenstein valley
LEADER: Unspecified

How the werf location, aspect, size and ownership histories of the farms in the Groot Drakenstein valley we are visiting were integral in shaping the werfs through time: the entirely self-sufficient Babylonstoren and the network of farms in the De Villiers family holdings & Solms Delta. 
The De Villiers family was very influential in this valley’s history and we shall see the degree to which each farm was incorporated into the vast and wealthy de Villiers dynasty – and the effect that had on its physical layout.

Babylonstoren was outside this family network for much of its history and so needed to be self-sufficient, while the De Villiers farms formed a network of resources.
Thus we start at Babylonstoren to see how this need to be self-sufficient this translates into built fabric.
Babylonstoren garden replicates the Company’s Garden layout, aided by Patrice Taravella‘s design.
Our outing is designed to investigate how the location, aspect, size and ownership histories of the farms we are visiting were integral in shaping the werfs through time.

Then we wend our way to Solms Delta, stopping at other werfs that belonged to the De Villiers family network, noting the differences that brought into the built fabric. We end at Solms Delta, where Katie will give us an insider tour of the archaeological investigations she is currently busy with on the werf, including the architectural puzzles the old stables have revealed.

May 2012 Talk

May 2012 Talk

TOPIC:                 What two farm werfs can tell us about the Cape economy and family dynasties in the
C18th & 19th – Babylonstoren and Solms Delta, in the Groot Drakenstein
SPEAKER:           Katie Smuts
DATE:                  Tuesday, 15 May 2012
TIME:                   19h45 for 20h00
VENUE:               The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands

This talk draws on the work Katie did to earn her MPhil in Archaeology, using archaeology and archival research to chart the development of the werfs of two historical wine farms in the Groot Drakenstein: Solms Delta and Babylonstoren.

What she is going to reveal to us is what these developmental histories can tell us about the fluctuating economic conditions at the Cape during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the nature of the relationship between the farms and the Cape wine economy.

Katie will explain how these farms, very different in size and complexity, were both able to capitalise on boom periods, and weather economic downturns as a result of factors unique to each farm.

Katie Smuts is an MPhil in Historical Archaeology candidate, whose dissertation entitled An Archaeology of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Cape Wine Economy from the Perspective of Solms Delta and Babylonstoren, was submitted at the beginning of this year.

She has been a contract archaeologist, specialising in Historical Archaeology but will shortly be joining SAHRA as a Heritage Officer in their Archaeology Unit.

Exciting Short Courses on aspects of Cultural History

The University Museum of the Universityof Stellenbosch, in co-operation with the South African Society for Cultural History is offering short courses to the public on different aspects of Cultural History.

Topics are: Architecture and Old Cape Furniture
Each course comprises 15 hours’ tuition, spread over three days. Courses are SAQA-accredited Level 5 certificate.

The presenter is Prof Matilda Burden, a tutor in Cultural History at the Universityof Stellenboschfor the past 30 years. Contact her: 021-808 3669, or email  before 4 May 2012

At Montebello visit David Krut ‘s latest exhibition: Landscape Re-orientation (28 April – 30 June 2012)

‘’Before it can ever be the repose for the senses, landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock’’.
Simon Schama

Taking the notion of the traditional landscape, and bearing in mind the South African version of the idiom, this exhibition presents a collection of works informed by the genre.

The landscape stands in for a state of being, but is also instrumental in the formation of our understanding of what it means to be – as individuals existing within communities whose histories have been informed by the territories that we call home.

Landscape emerges as portrait and as metaphor for memory and psychological terrain.

Included in the exhibition: J.H. Pierneef, new linocuts by William Kentridge’s Universal Archive series, Willem Boshoff, Wilma Cruise, Justin Fox, Mischa Fritsch, Stephen Hobbs, Stephen Inggs, Dillon Marsh, Colbert Mashile, Andrzej Nowicki, Julian Opie, RobynPenn, Don Pinnock, Alexandra Ross, James Siena, Sean Slemon, Katherine Spindler, Nathaniel Stern, Mary Wafer, Alastair Whitton and Niklas Zimmer.

VASSA Journal Vol. 25

VASSA Journal Vol. 25

VASSA Journal Vol. 25

MAY  2012 – Vol. 33



The influence of English architecture on Cape Dutch architecture in PaarlJozef Smit.

The making of the kerkgronde of Sutherland: Karin Strom.

April 2012 Talk

April 2012 Talk

TOPIC:            Town Layout in the Cape: The Grid versus the River-strip
SPEAKER:       Dr Hans Fransen
DATE:              Tuesday, 17 April 2012
TIME:               19h45 for 20h00
VENUE:           The Athenaeum

Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl& Campground Rds.

In colonial areas – whether in Roman England, English France, inAmericaor inSouth Africa– a rational grid outlay was the preferred design for “planted” towns.

Hans traces some of these designs at the Cape, often with a church at a focal point. But he’ll also discuss a different type, that had its origin as an agricultural settlement in which the course of a river, and of an irrigation system derived from it, determined a more irregular (and to us more picturesque!), contour-directed plan that provided for a green “river-strip” with the villagers’ dwellings on its upper fringe.
It can be seen at Clanwilliam, Tulbagh,Prince Albert, and also at the mission villages such as Mamre, Wupperthal en Genadendal.

Hans Fransen is a former chairman of VASSA and holds a doctorate from theUniversityofNataland an honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch.
Until his retirement he was the director of the MichaelisArt Museumon Greenmarket Squareand chairs its Society of Friends. Cycling is his passion.

He is the author of standard works such as the three editions of The old buildings of the Cape (first two with Dr Mary Cook), A Cape camera and more recently Old towns and villages of the Cape.
All these are valuable reference books for VASSA members.

2012 APRIL

2012 APRIL

LOCATION: Darling and Mamre
LEADER: Hans Fransen

As a sequel to Hans Fransen’s lecture on the “Vernacular of Cape Town Design”, he will take us on an investigation at ground level of two towns, representative of the two main types of layout.

The first port of call will be Darling (1853, well predating Pieter-Dirk Uys), a good and attractive example of the rectilinear “planned town”.

The other will be mission town Mamre (1807), not far away, with its organic layout intended to provide strips of arable land to its inhabitants.

Participants will assemble at the Darling Museum, on its street corner one block away from the Art Deco D.R. Church, where an introductory talk will be given. Head for the church steeple! There will be plenty parking available. This will be followed by a brief tour of the village.

Then we will move on to Mamre, a quarter of an hour away, where we will assemble on the magificent “kerkwerf”, by the large Moravian mission church. This, too, will be followed by a walk-about.
Please bring a picnic basket, which we can enjoy at an idyllic spot near the old mill.



2012 MARCH

2012 MARCH

LOCATION: Tracking the Liesbeeck 
LEADER: Jim Hislop, Kathy Dumbrell

An informative talk and discussion follow at Malta Park fields, Fir Street, Observatory, with views of old Uitwijk site (Van Riebeeck’s grain farm) and Nieuwe Molen in the distance.

Then we’ll visit the excavated remains of Varsche Drift farmhouse at Black River Park office complex, Fir Street, Observatory after which we visit Valkenburg Manor, with a talk on its restoration.


March 2012 Talk & AGM

March 2012 Talk & AGM

TOPIC:             AGM & Celebration party
SPEAKER:       Pieter Jolly / AGM
DATE:              Tuesday, 20 March 2012
TIME:               19h45 for 20h00
VENUE:           The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads.

Ditema, the Sotho tradition of decorating houses with painted and engraved patterns and pebbles set into plaster, is fast disappearing.
Less well-known than the Ndebele mural art, it a particularly beautiful form of vernacular art tradition.

In this talk, a range of examples of this traditional architectural art form will be shown, and a brief overview will be given of the history of this tradition as well as of the processes involved in placing these patterns on the walls of the houses.

Pieter Jolly is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at UCT.

His special area of research is San history and rock art, specifically the history of interaction between the south-eastern San and southern Nguni and Sotho communities.

Talks are open to the public – and free. 



LOCATION: Historical places along the Liesbeeck
LEADER: Helen Robinson

Dr Helen Robinson leads a walk through historical places along the Liesbeeck which begins at Josephine Mill.
She’ll attempt to illustrate what remains of the early days in the former villages of Newlands and Rondebosch and give some idea of the farms which were established along the River and of their owners over time.
The walk commences at and returns to Josephine Mill. Bring along a  picnic.

February 2012 Talk

February 2012 Talk

TOPIC:                 Living along the Liesbeeck River
SPEAKER:          Dr Helen Robinson
DATE:                  Tuesday, 21 February 2012
TIME:                   19h45 for 20h00
VENUE:               The Athenaeum
 at the intersection of Campground and Mariendahl Roads, Newlands

The Liesbeeck River has supported human settlement for hundreds of years as it flows from its source on TableMountainto the shores of Table Bay. It sustained nomadic herders in the earliest days and later immigrants built their homesteads along its banks, living there with their slaves and their descendants.

Dr Helen Robinson’s talk explores the lives of some of the people within these households. She asks the question – to what extent did this multi-cultural population achieve a degree of self-sufficiency which enabled them to co-exist in the villages which were later established along the banks of the River?

This is a story of change from a simple agrarian community to a vital modern lifestyle, which was fuelled by the technological advances of the 19th century and came to fruition in the next 100 years. Her talk and her book attempt to bring together these issues and to present a coherent account of the process which brought about change in this socially sensitive area.
This story concludes with the incorporation of the villages into greaterCape Town in 1913, but suggests that this is an ongoing process with many more implications for the 20th and 21st centuries.

Above all, it is the story of a struggle for recognition by men, women and children against a background of hope and despair, of affluence and poverty, of ignorance and understanding. It is a significant segment ofCapehistory and an acknowledgement of all the people who made it.

Dr Helen Robinson received her MA in 1985 for a study on forced removals in Greyton in the Overburg.
Her PhD thesis in the History Department in 1998 was Beyond the City Limits – People and Property at Wynberg.
She published Wynberg – a Special Place in 2001 which looks at the impact of change and modernization on the area during the twentieth century, and in 2005, a commemorative book to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the annual season of Shakespeare at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre.

Her latest book will be on sale at the very exclusive price of R150: The Villages of the Liesbeeck – from the sea to the source.


The South African constitution has undergone no fewer than 18 Amendments in its relatively short life-span while the VASSA constitution has survived 25 years without any change.
The context of built heritage conservation has completely changed within this time with the advent of new legislation, heritage practices and authorities, to say nothing of the technological revolution.
Twenty-five years ago a ‘laptop’ might have had a completely different connotation!

The amended Vassa constitution positions the society to be proactive as well as responsive to architectural conservation dynamics. It provides for greater transparency and accountability as a public benefit organisation; and the use of information technology as a tool. It streamlines management and operational practices and broadens the scope of activities in support of our original objectives.


It also allows us to alter when we have our AGM, from March to November, and ratify the subscription rates.
This means we can budget better and announce the rates at the beginning of each year, which is a more practical way forward.

It also means that there will be no increase in subscription rates this year – and that we will be having another AGM in Nov 2012 when we’ll announce the rates for 2013.


Bring along your subs payment to the Feb talk!
2012 Rates are unchanged from 2011:

R165 for singles, R275 for family & R250 for SACAP

& R20 for a replacement badge.

What is required is that when you pay, you also complete a Membership Form – either a hard copy available at the door, or online. This is non negotiable.


This year members are receiving a separate invoice with payment details included– see attached.

Please Note that you have 2 months only in which to pay.

As proof of current payment, a coloured slip will be mailed to you in the March newsletter (which will be sent to all members, even those who usually receive the newsletter by email). This slip must be inserted into your badge and worn at all times.


Diarise Tuesday 20 March
Joy Saxon is valiantly organising the party spread. Should you wish to help in any way please call her 021 674 4717.



November 2011 Talk

November 2011 Talk

DATE: Tuesday, 15th November 2011
TIME: 7 pm (not the usual 8pm)
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Campground and Mariendahl Roads

Pieter Jolly is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at UCT, whose special area of research is San history and rock art, specifically the history of interaction between the south-eastern San and southern Nguni and Sotho communities.

He became interested in cave dwellings and other cave structures while staying at Masitise in southern Lesotho in the early 1990s while researching the history of the last San people living in present-day Lesotho.

The house he stayed in at Masitise was close to a well-known cave house occupied in the 19th century by the French missionary, Reverend D.F. Ellenberger, and was the first of many made over the next 20 years to cave houses and other cave structures in the south-eastern areas of southern Africa – specifically Lesotho, the Free State and the North-eastern Cape.

His informal study culminated last year in a self-published book :”Rock Shelter: some cave and cliff structures in Lesotho and South Africa”, which is dedicated to James Walton, who pioneered the study of cave dwellings in South Africa and Lesotho.
It will be on sale at R140 on the night.

The illustrated talk focuses on a little-known aspect of the architectural heritage of Lesotho and south-eastern South Africa – structures built in caves and in the shelter of cliffs, built and occupied by a wide range of people – including traditional healers, European priests and European, Nguni and Sotho farmers.

In some cases they were simply considered convenient places of shelter. It was quite common, for wandering Sotho groups to build their mud or stone thatched dwellings within a cave or in the lee of a cliff. European farmers, too, sometimes lived in caves before building themselves more traditional dwellings.
Often features of the cave or cliff would be incorporated into the design of these cave and cliff dwellings.

In other cases, caves were sought out by “holy people” who considered them inherently sacred spaces – portals between the surface of the earth, inhabited by human beings, and the hidden world inside the earth, inhabited by spirit beings.

In more recent times, some cave structures have been erected to provide shelter for hikers and others fleeing the pressures of city life, looking for a return to an earlier time when the shelter from the elements took a simpler and more environmentally-friendly form.


Why we are starting early is that Thys Hattingh will be presenting to you proposed changes to our constitution –which have been intended since he commenced his chairmanship in March this year.

What’s required at this Special General Meeting is your mandate to proceed.
This is why we are attaching a copy of our exisiting constitution (see VASSA -Constitution) as well as the proposed new constitution in a draft form, so that you are fully in the picture, and can make an informed decision (download VASSA – New Constitution: Draft)

Should you not be able to be present on the night, please participate in this important issue nonetheless by letting us know your mandate via completing the attached proxy (download VASSA – Proxy Form).

We’ll begin with the Constitution amendments at 7pm, and Pieter’s talk will follow.
And in order to celebrate James Walton’s birthday, there will be sherry on the house (a slight deviation from his favoured tipple of whisky) but in the spirit of things!



LOCATION: The Parks in the Upper Table Valley
LEADER: Unspecified 

What remains of the rural character that the market gardens that once surrounded the fledgling city gave the Upper Table Valley is condensed into a series of parks tucked into the urban fabric.

We‘ll be exploring a segment of these, following the water’s routes – from Deer Park on the urban edge and then past the swathe of green spaces (including the old water catchment area of the town) that culminates in the little park where the Oranjezicht slave bell and portion of one of its outbuildings remain.
En route to our final destination (De Waal Park and the early reservoirs across the road from it), we’ll pass the Hurling Pump.

Those who wish to walk the whole route can, (remember to make a plan for leaving a car at De Waal Park to get back to the cars parked at the start!) while the less exercise-enthused can drive the route, stopping at each of our sites.

After our adventures, we shall repair to De Waal Park for our traditionally super-festive end-of-Vernac-year picnic. Pack your hampers accordingly.





SUTHERLAND AND DISTRICTS – Following the wagon routes  

Venues visited: De Doorns, Buffelskraal, Karoopoort – before passing through the poort into the Tankwa Karoo, Hangklip – a famous rock formation mentioned by many early travellers, the farm Bizansgat, the  crossing at Gousblomhoogte, the Veld Cornet Gerrit Snyman’s “hut” on the farm Windheuwel, where Burchell actually stayed.
A walking tour of Sutherland, Kuilenburg, Eensaamheid – with a corbelled building and a building with its roof made of flat stones, Groenvlei – with two brakdak buildings, the very old farms of Hartbeesfontein and Rheboksfontein, a ruin in the Verlatenkloof Pass, Gunstfontein – home of Afrikaans writer Van Wyk Louw, the old Tuinplaas church built in the early 19thcentury for trekboers, and Matjiesfontein.

Excursion leader Dr Judy Maguire is a mine of information. She is extremely knowledgeable about this part of the Karoo, having visited most of the farms personally.
Notes compiled by Judy Maguire and Pat Kramer




October 2011 Talk

October 2011 Talk

TOPIC: Churches and other Public Buildings
SPEAKER:Dr Hans Fransen
DATE: Tuesday, 18th October 2011
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Campground and Mariendahl Roads

The terms “public buildings” and “vernacular architecture” would, at first sight, seem to be contradictory.
With the latter, one tends to think of farm complexes, watermills, threshing floors and dovecots.

In our lecture programme aimed at discussing various aspects of our vernacular heritage, our former chairman and founder member Hans Fransen will try to detect whether vernacular elements can also be found in the churches and drostdy buildings erected at the Cape over two centuries.

His talk will be richly illustrated with examples, both still extant and since demolished.
Whether gaols can rightly be called “public buildings” he is still busy figuring out.

In terms of honouring his pioneering spirit, and in recognition of Hans’ life-long contributions in the cultural sphere, the directors of the FAK [Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurverenigings] will be conferring the Award for Extraordinary Cultural Services, at their annual FAK Prestige Evening in Centurion at then end of this month.
Hans has also been knighted by the Netherlands for his pioneering work and dedication to architecture: the fieldwork for his seminal book The Old Buildings of the Cape covers over 5 000 buildings, includes 700 photographs and required travelling 25 000 km by car and 5 000 km by bicycle.



LOCATION: Old Nectar, Jonkershoek
LEADER: André van Graan

It is a great privilege to visit Old Nectar at this time of the year when the roses will still be in bloom and Una van der Spuy, the owner, will show us around her famous garden and also inside her home which was built in 1814 on the farm Nectar, dating back to the late 1600’s.

General and Mrs van der Spuy bought the farm in 1942 and the garden is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful in South Africa. It is a national monument.

In 2009 ‘’Old Nectar, A Garden for All Seasons’’ was published and this superb book is illustrated with over 200 of her magnificent photographs.

Andre van Graan will lead us on 22 October and later take us to Lanzerac, which is also one of the oldest farms in the Jonkershoek Valley. Bring along a picnic and a camera.


Sep 2011 Talk

Sep 2011 Talk

TOPIC: The  Forgotten Highway
SPEAKER: Nigel Amschwand 
DATE: Tuesday, 20 September 2011
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands

Intrepid VASSA member Nigel Amschwand, professionally is an engineer by day, but in his spare time he has traversed many less travelled routes and vertiginous mountain passes with a fearless spirit and an investigative eye.

His talk will be about the old routes to the Roggeveld and the areas beyond, opened up in the 18th century. A few of the alternative ways that were used to get to Karoopoort (a tea stop on the weekend excursion ) will be described.
From there on, the route to the Roggeveld escarpment will be shown using modern maps and overlays of early farm diagrams.
The talk will include some early sketches by William Burchell and narratives from other early travellers.
Some historical facts and stories about some of the places will be given.

Will be a weekend excursion to Sutherland (on 7- 10 OCTOBER)


A founder member who served on the committee, Micky contributed largely with her constant, lively interest in the world.
A graduate of Michaelis School of Fine Art, we knew her as a talented artist. She designed and supervised the building of a house in the garden of her old 19th century house in Rouwkoop village to meet the needs of her husband Hugh, sadly confined to a wheelchair.

As Mary Floyd commented in 2005 in a VASSA Journal edition that honoured its Octogenarian Vernackers:
”We remember this gallant woman as Cape Town’s top photographic model. Glamorous long legs, sophisticated and beautiful on the page of every Saturday’s Cape Times magazine – and other publications. She probably had a dry sense of humour even then”.

THE GLOBAL CAPE – Breaking the Boundaries of the Early Cape Colony by Nigel Worden – an inaugural lecture.

Nigel Worden first encountered African history as an undergraduate at Cambridge and came to South Africa in 1979 to spend six months in the Cape archives researching for his doctorate. Apart from a brief period teaching at the University of Edinburgh, he has been here ever since.

His earliest research focussed on slavery in the Dutch Cape Colony and this led to a growing interest in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian history. In the 1990s he co-authored a pioneering two volume social history of Cape Town and more recently he has explored the ways in which sailors, artisans and slaves from across the world created new lives for themselves in the early colonial settlement. His current project explores concepts of honour and shame in the early modern Indian Ocean world.

His previous training as an actor might explain why he is a passionate lecturer and teacher and he was one of the earliest winners of a UCT Distinguished Teacher award. He also has degrees in linguistics and in art history which, coupled with his obsession with travel and with learning languages, means his students have encountered topics ranging from Argentinean tango and Flemish paintings to Australian folk ballads and Malaysian heritage sites.

He has also published a widely-used general history of South Africa, has appeared in several recent television documentaries and is a member of the triumvirate that wrote the influential In Search of History senior school textbook series.
He became a full professor in 1997, was recently a Deputy Dean of the Humanities Faculty and is currently head of the Historical Studies Department. This is his inauguration into the King George V Chair of History to which he was appointed in 2009.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 at 17h30
Lecture Theatre 1, Kramer Law Building
Middle Campus, University of Cape Town
Admission: Free: RSVP by 14 September 2011 for catering purposes to: Michelle Moses Tel: 021 650 4870 * Fax: 021 650 5628 * Email:

It has been suggested to us that what would make your life much easier would be to be receive an invoice each year, which we will think is a very good idea, and will be sending out from 2012 onwards.

VASSA Journal Vol. 24

VASSA Journal Vol. 24

VASSA Journal Vol. 24

SEPTEMBER  2011 – Vol. 24


Tribute to John Rennie
Mike Scurr 
Melanie Attwell 
Gawie Fagan 
David van den Heever.

The British period – 19th century influences on vernacular architecture in the Eastern and Western Cape: John Rennie


August 2011 Talk

August 2011 Talk

DATE: Tuesday, 16 August 2011
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campgound Roads

A heritage survey is designed to identify and grade all heritage resources and heritage areas within a geographical area (or the component elements, buildings, sites and places with a heritage theme), which is usually an urban or rural environment or, in some cases, an entire municipal area.

Graham Jacobs is an architect, accredited professional heritage consultant and musician, with an MA from York. He has worked at the City in urban conservation, and with teams surveying in the Drakenstein, Swartland and Overstrand districts.
This has given him considerable experience in identifying, analysing and assessing the importance of a wide range of structures.
However, the task is not easy, and he will give examples of places over which hot debates took place.


To date 102 members have not yet paid!
W e have received two unmarked deposits and one marked ‘’Jpk & Hms’’ … do beam us up Scottie
Dear members, your exhausted treasurer and I are wondering how many reminders it takes?
This is your 6th notification.
R165/ single, R275/ family, SACAP/ R250.
Standard Bank, Rondebosch. Branch 025009
Account: 075624257 / or pay online



LOCATION: Hermanus 
LEADER: Noon Lloyd, Estelle Spaarwater

This trip follows on from Graham Jacobs’s talk. We will be travelling by bus to Hermanus where chairperson of the Overstrand Heritage and Aesthetics Committee, Estelle Spaarwater, and architect and Vernacs member, Noon Lloyd, will take us on a walking tour around an older part of the town.

There will be a brief stop at the Kramers’ house in Onrus where we will have a cup of tea and an introductory talk by Estelle.
Thereafter we will travel up the Rotary Way which overlooks the town for an overview of Hermanus.
Then we will travel down into the town to explore the area around the Old Harbour and to visit the De Wet Photographic Museum with its wonderful collection of early photographs of Hermanus.

Estelle and Noon will lead us to the ‘binnedorp’ so that we can look at a block of original buildings, now all adapted for modern use, after which we will walk back to Marine Drive to discuss some of the buildings in this area.
Lunch will be a picnic on the lawns at the Old Harbour. Hopefully the whales will oblige with a visit. If it rains, arrangements have been made for us to move indoors.

After lunch the bus will take us out towards Voelklip where we will look at De Mond (the original house on this site was built by Cloete who also owned Groote Constantia), The Homestead (second holiday home after De Mond built by the McFarlanes and subsequently donated to be used as a nurse’s holiday home), and finally Willhelmstad, among the first houses at Voelklip, now the centre of a debate about its future.

Before we leave Hermanus there will be a comfort stop at Noon’s offices, which are in an original fisherman’s cottage, that she has sensitively adapted to house her architectural practice.

Our sincere thanks to Pat and John Kramer for arranging this fascinating outing to Hermanus.


July 2011 Talk

July 2011 Talk

TOPIC:             Our Written Record: Helping you search in the archival records
SPEAKER:       Kathleen Schultz
DATE:               Tuesday, 19 July 2011
TIME:               20h00
VENUE:            The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Kathleen Schulz has spent a considerable part of her life researching the history of the Western Cape, both early and contemporary.

She will guide you through some of the lesser used collections in the archives in order to demonstrate their importance when interpreting our understanding of the past.


In the Dec 2005 Journal we paid tribute to a number of Octaganerian Vernackers.

One of these was Joanna Sharland, a former mayor of Bulawayo in the 70’s who with her husband Clive lived in a historic Simon’s Town cottage and became involved in local affairs.
She was introduced to the Vernacs by June Sykes at an outing to the Sandveld and will be remembered by us as an intrepid member and a valiant walker.
We mourn her passing and her sparkle.

2011 JULY

2011 JULY

LOCATION: Paarl – Main Road Meander
LEADER: Jozef Smit

We meet outside the Strooidak Church in Main Rd, Paarl – between Haarlem and Rose on the eastern side of the main road. We travel in a Sentosa Tours bus which will meander on and off the main road with Jozef giving us a running commentary on the many beautiful Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian buildings.
We then visit out of town Dal Josefat, Languedoc and Kleinbosch where we will be treated to some warming soup.

On our return to Paarl we have been invited into the home of Emma Kriel in Klein Reservoir St which was the first government school in 1813 and was featured in Jozef’s talk on June 21.
Emma will serve us tea & coffee. This should be around 14.15 and from here it’s only a short walk back to the Strooidak church.

Parking is available in the archives parking lot and in Roeland Street.
If you are interested in learning more about using our archives Antonia Malan and Kathleen will be presenting a two hour workshop in the archives.


2011 MAY

2011 MAY

LOCATION: Wolmunster, Rosebank
LEADER: Trevor Thorold

Wolmunster is a rare early nineteenth century Cape Regency residence; one of the few substantially intact remaining examples of a “gentleman’s residence” in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.
The Barnard’s establishment of a country residence at the Vineyard in 1799/1800, during the first British Occupation, perhaps started the changing trend.
Comparisons may also be made between Wolmunster’s pigeon house and the Vineyard’s free-standing ‘cool room’, which was “a picturesque feature in its own right, following the Repton principle of combining ‘utility with beauty’” (as described by Ronald Lewcock in his seminal work Early Nineteenth Century Architecture in South Africa, a study of the interaction of two cultures, 1795 – 1837, 1963: 38.
Curiously, Lewcock makes no reference to Wolmunster:- presumably he was unaware of its existence).

There is a remarkable simplicity, clarity and symmetry, fine proportioning and elegant detailing to the plan-form and organisation of the core historical residence, built by Carel Arnoldus Becker, the first owner of the property, which he purchased in 1834.

The pigeon house, set on the rear boundary and terminating the central approach axis, is a powerful architectural element within the overall composition. It may be a quirky Cape Georgian transmutation of the elaborate generally free-standing Cape Dutch dovecots.
Fransen & Cook 1980 describe it thus: ” Behind the house stands a pigeon-house, 2-storeyed, with fenestration like the Cape warehouses: round-headed openings flanked by smaller ones”.
James Walton Cape Dovecotes and Fowl-runs 1985 has no references to Georgian examples.

William Porter, owner from 1852 until 1875, was Attorney-General of the Cape Colony for 34 years. He is regarded as the father of Cape Liberalism. He is significant also as having funded the founding of the Porter Reformatory, originally at Valkenberg Estate, Observatory, later moved to Tokai.

(Much of the outline history was also extracted from Adele Keen’s unpublished manuscript Under Devil’s Peak; A glance at some old Houses and the people who lived in them, c1991.)

Wolmunster, since its acquisition by UCT in 1970, was a UCT self-catering residence for some 15 to 20 senior students until 2001. Thorold Architects were appointed by UCT in 2002 to renovate the property so as to reasonably house as many senior, self-catering students as possible and the conservation, renovation and alterations were undertaken during 2006/07.


June 2011Talk

June 2011Talk

TOPIC: Paarl Tea Party –  The Influence of English Architecture in Paarl
SPEAKER: Jozef Smit
DATE: Tuesday, 21 June 2011
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Jozef Smit is a practicing architect based in Cape Town. Together with Norval Louw they are partners at Smit met Louw Architects.

He grew up in Paarl and studied architecture at the University of Pretoria. While completing his architecture studies he realised the privilege he had of growing up in one of South Africa’s historical and architectural gems.
He has since developed and maintained a keen interest in South Africa’s architectural heritage.

He will present a lecture on buildings in Paarl which were influenced by English Architecture (Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian).
Many Cape Dutch buildings in the Cape at that time were altered to conform to these styles.
The aim of the lecture will be to investigate “adaptive reuse” and determine what we can learn from it.




May 2011 Talk

May 2011 Talk

TOPIC: Architecture of the British Period, Wolmunster in Rosebank
SPEAKER:  Trevor Thorold
DATE: Tuesday, 17 May 2011
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads:

Trevor Thorold is a long-serving member of Heritage Western Cape’s Built Environment & Landscape Permit Committee (BELCOM), and was a Member of the first Council of Heritage Western Cape from 2004 to 2007.

He was a heritage consultant to the City of Cape Town for some years, providing part-time Urban Conservation management services for South Peninsula Administration

He is an active founder-member of the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners: W Cape, and was a pioneer of Heritage Impact Assessments. Trevor contributes to UCT’s Continuing Professional Development course on Architectural & Urban Conservation, and the M Phil: Conservation of the Built Environment, both convened by Dr Stephen Townsend.

He will be speaking about the history and recent restoration undertaken by his practice of the very fine 19th century house called Wolmunster. Thorold Architects are currently underway with a heritage & planning assessment of The Firs/ Irma Stern Museum, the property immediately to the south of Wolmunster, and of similar age, so he may briefly also describe some of the interim findings.


2011 APRIL

2011 APRIL

Little-known vernacular places in the Swellendam district between the N2 and the coast, mostly on the eastern side of the Breede River

This excursion follows on previous visits, the first being for the third annual general meeting of VASSA in 1966, the second in 1994, as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, and again in 2000 when we visited places in the town and to the west of the town.

Venues visited: Sandkraal – a restored Victorian homestead, with Koesanie an earlier adjacent farmstead,  a restored house in Railton, the Drostdy Museum complex, a longhouse at Uitvlug – west of the river.
Beyond Riviersonderend is an 18th-century farm near Stormsvlei, the van Reenen farmsteads at Rhenosterfontein – both of which were visited by the legendary Lady Anne Barnard in 1796.


April 2011 Talk

April 2011 Talk

TOPIC: The British Period: 19th Century Influences on Vernacular Architecture in the Eastern Cape
SPEAKER: John Rennie
DATE: Tuesday, 19th April 2011
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads.

John Rennie, a past chairman of VASSA and a highly esteemed architect, has been responsible for many notable restorations, including the Anglican Cathedral in Grahamstown, City Halls in East London and Cape Town, and the Centre for the Book in Queen Victoria Street (originally the University building of 1906).

He will show us slides of his early work in the Eastern Cape, from his Grahamstown days, and in the Western Cape, where he has worked at a farm near Nuy and at Kanetvlei, both in the Worcester district, and more recently at Helena in Daljosaphat, near Paarl.

One of his more recent restorations was at the corner of Harrington Street and Roeland Street, where he restored and extended two buildings which became the head office of SAHRA.

Most recently, he restored the old Drill Hall on the Grand Parade and adapted it to become the Central Library.

VASSA Journal 23

VASSA Journal Vol. 23

VASSA Journal Vol. 23

JUNE 2010 – Vol. 23



West Coast buildings: the architecture of a coastal frontier: Antonia Malan & Lita Webley

Extracts from ‘Die kultuur-historiese belang van die “hardebieshuise” van Hopefield’ (1985): C. Wessels

Survey of buildings at Oudekraal Fontein, Hopefield (October 1979): VASSA

VASSA Journal 22

VASSA Journal Vol. 22

VASSA Journal Vol. 22

DECEMBER 2009 – Vol. 22



The Roodezand passes to the Tulbagh valley: Joanna Marx

The European origin of Cape vernacular architecture: Andre van Graan

Regional differences in Cape vernacular architecture: Hans Fransen

VASSA Journal 21 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 21

VASSA Journal Vol. 21

JUNE 2009 – Vol. 21



Rietfontein: a farm in the North Onder-Bokkeveld: Nigel Amschwand

The Liesbeeck River: its importance and its problems: Yvonne Brink

Doornboom in Heidelberg, saved at last: Hans Fransen
The Namaqualand stockpost: Lita Webley

VASSA Journal 20 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 20

VASSA Journal Vol. 20

DECEMBER 2008 – Vol. 20


This issue is the second in a series dedicated towards recording the corbelled buildings of South Africa (see no.17 June 2007).

Buildings in the Karoo and Onder-Bokkeveld are described



Retrospective visit to Matjesfontein and Tierhoek & The Jewish Influence in Calvinia

Venues visited: Groenrivier, Matjesfontein, Tierhoek, Oorlogskloof, Calvinia Museum (Jewish synagogue), Carmel Villa, Hantamhuis, Karoo Boekehuis, and vierkant farms.

People encountered – live or dead: Families van Reenen, Bok, Nieuwoudt, McGregor, Helfet, Sher.

Notes compiled by Nigel Amschwand

Click here to download the full PDF

VASSA Journal 19 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 19

VASSA Journal Vol. 19

JUNE 2008 – Vol. 19


Mike Visser: A sociable loner : Joanna Marx

Mike Visser: How I remember him: David van den Heever

What is a vernacular building?: David Glennie

Building in stone in the Karoo: Possible explanations for the restricted distribution of corbelled houses: Judy Maguire

VASSA Journal 18 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 18

VASSA Journal Vol. 18

DECEMBER  2007 – Vol. 18



Soutpan – A farm on the edge: Nigel Amschwand

The form and layout of early Cape Town households, 1660-1740: Antonia Malan

VASSA Journal 17 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 17

VASSA Journal Vol. 17

JUNE 2007 – Vol. 17


Corbelled buildings – an overview: Pat Kramer

VASSA excursion to Loxton: September 2006

Corbelled buildings in Europe: Borut Juvanec & Guy Barroul

Corbelled buildings in South Africa: James Walton

Nieuweveld farms that tell a story: Judy Maguire

VASSA Journal 16 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 16

VASSA Journal Vol. 16

DECEMBER 2006 – Vol. 16



André Pretorius: great loss to VASSA /
Gevoelige verlies vir Kaapse bewaringwêreld:
Hans Fransen

André Pretorius: Skrywer, fotograaf, bewaringsman:
Martiens van Bart 

The Three Musketeers: Philippina Oberholster 

Tierhoek, Calvinia: André Pretorius 

Giving dignity back to Loedolff House, Malmesbury:
David Glennie 

Schoongezicht, Ida’s Valley and Weltevreden, Stellenbosch:
The survival of Cape homesteads amid urban sprawl:
Antonia Malan

VASSA Journal 15 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 15

VASSA Journal Vol. 15

JULLY  2006 – Vol. 15


Driefontein Farmhouse, Berg River Valley: an example of a late 18 th century longhouse: Mary Patrick & Harriet Clift

Donkerhoek homestead: Farm 956, Stellenbosch: Emmylou Rabe

An investigation of a colonial era farm graveyard in the Northern Cape : Nigel Amschwand

VASSA Journal 14 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 14

VASSA Journal Vol. 14

DECEMBER  2005 – Vol. 14



The vernacular architecture of Swellendam and its surroundings: Eureka Barnard

A tribute to our Octogenarian Vernackers: Helen Binckes, Shirley Chapman, Marion Ellis, Mary Floyd, Joy Saxon

Coenradenberg: Pat Kramer



LOCATION: The Koue Bokkeveld
LEADER: Nigel Amschwand

The area known as the Bokkeveld, (from the vast herds of Springbok that migrated through in early times) was first permanently by settled by VOC colonists around 1730.

Most of the first farmers were from the ‘t land van Waveren that later became known as the Tulbach Valley. The Bokkeveld was divided into two areas the Koue and Warm. This latter area was the land surrounding the top of the Mostert’s Hoek Pass, where Ceres now stands. The Koue or Cold Bokkeveld was the higher lying area to the east and north.

The farms in the northern parts were mostly described as being agter de Witzenberg (behind the Witzenberg) this being one of the mountain ranges that separates the Koue Bokkeveld from the Tulbach Valley and was crossed by the Witzenberg Pass. Sometimes however, the farms were described as being over the Oliphants River as this was another route into the area via Kardouws Kloof (crossing into the Oliphants Valley from just above Porterville) and the Elands Pad Pass (a road over the Middleberg).

The area was fertile and excellent for growing grain, fruits and vegetables and poultry, especially turkeys. The main activity was the rearing of mutton sheep. In 1805 it was calculated that there were 30 000 sheep in the district. The main advantage was the cold climate, which prevented lamziekte, a prevalent disease at that time. During the coldest periods the farmers took their flocks over the Swartruggens and down into the Ceres Karoo to feed on the winter grass.

It was always sparsely settled and a good proportion of the white inhabitants were members of the van der Merwe family. As late as the 1820’s this area was considered a remote part of the Cape and at Houdenbeck, in one corner, the last slave rebellion took place in 1823.

Click here to download the full PDF



Bredasdorp and the Strandveld area,  held on 24-25 September 2005.

Locations visited were Napier, Quarrie, Bredasdorp, Nagtwagt, Arniston, Prinskraal, Zoetendalsvallei, Elim, Ratelrivier and Groot Hagelkraal.

Notes compiled by VASSA and include photos, maps and a James Walton drawing.

Bredasdorp & Strandveld Sept 05

VASSA Journal 13 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 13

VASSA Journal Vol. 13

JUNE 2005 – Vol. 13


Wine making at the Cape : The architecture of wine: André van Graan

A short history of Muratie: Helena Scheffler

Morgenhof: From langhuis to manoir: Antonia Malan

VASSA Journal 12 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 12

VASSA Journal Vol. 12

DECEMBER  2004 – Vol. 12


A tribute to Revel Fox (1924-2004): Nicolas Baumann

Doornboom (‘Auld House’) Heidelberg CP: André Pretorius

Inherited characteristics of the Cape Vernacular: Hugh Floyd (reprint of 1983 article)



Graaf-Reinet, Nieu Bethesda and Aberdeen on 6-9 August 2004.

Some of the locations and homesteads visited and described were Reinet House, Urquhart House, the Drosty, Stretch’s Court, The Residency, Parsonage Street, The Pharmacy, Te Water House; Reitvlei; Rouvierville; Nieu Bethesda, The Owl House; Lekoog; Lettskraal; Aberdeen’s Trading Company, Magistrates Court, Post Office and Police Station.

Notes were compiled by VASSA and include maps, sketches, floor plans and photos as well as a historical overview of Graaf-Reinet and surrounds.


VASSA Journal 11 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 11

VASSA Journal Vol. 11

JUNE 2004 – Vol. 11


Plattekloof: An abandoned pass, an 18th century farm with historic homestead and a painting of a mysterious lady : André Pretorius


Reflections on half a century of vernacular architecture studies at the Cape : Antonia Malan


La Cotte, Franschhoek: The homestead and its setting : André van Graan & Antonia Malan

VASSA Journal 10 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 10

VASSA Journal Vol. 10

DECEMBER 2003 – Vol. 10


Kalbaskraal, Malmesbury: André van Graan

Anatomy of the Cape townhouse: Dirk Visser [reprint]

Crossing the Doorn (Doring) River: Nigel Amschwand



The Sandveld & Clanwilliam 

Farmers from around the Piketberg used the Sandveld mostly as grazing land in the winter months.
Locations and farmsteads visited: Sandfontein,Brandenburg, Modderfontein (Leipoldtville), Uitkoms, Clanwilliam, Procession Shelter, Warmhoek, Cedarville, Living Landscape Project/Clanwilliam Art Centre, Kardosie.

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VASSA Journal 9 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 09

VASSA Journal Vol. 09

JUNE 2003 – Vol. 09



Dirk Visser Memorial Issue: Stewart Harris

The modern Cape house: Mike Munnik & Dirk Visser [reprint]

Partner and friend: Mike Munnik

Brother: Mike Visser

Architect: Jane Visser

The dovecote and dower house at Alphen: Nicky Cloete-Hopkins

Heritage activist: Steve Townsend

Vernacking with Dirk: Joanna Marx

I remember Dirk … : Len Raymond

Reading the structure of old Cape buildings: Dirk Visser

[transcript from recording made at VASSA Workshop 1999]

VASSA Journal 8 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 08

VASSA Journal Vol. 08

DECEMBER  2002 – Vol. 08



Buffelskraal, on the Hex River: André Pretorius

VASSA Journal 7 Cover

VASSA Journal Vol. 07

VASSA Journal Vol. 07

JUNE 2002 – Vol. 07


How the garden grew: A brief spatial history of the Cape Town Gardens: Stewart Harris

VASSA Journal 6

VASSA Journal Vol. 06

VASSA Journal Vol. 06

DECEMBER 2001 – Vol. 06



Stormsvlei: A unique settlement frozen in time: André Pretorius

VASSA Journal 5

VASSA Journal Vol. 05

VASSA Journal Vol. 05

JUNE 2001 – Vol. 05



The meaning of the 18th century Cape farmstead: Yvonne Brink

The South African Orphan House: Lost but not forgotten: David van den Heever

George Thompson’s house and business premises in Long Street, Cape Town: Antonia Malan

VASSA Journal 4

VASSA Journal Vol. 04

VASSA Journal Vol. 04

DECEMBER 2000 – Vol. 04


Lokenburg: Its early history, pioneer owners and buildings: André Pretorius

Some thoughts concerning the positioning of early Cape homesteads: Keith Loynes

Surgery to buildings: Jonathan Driver-Jowitt

The leper colony at Hemel-en-Aarde near Hermanus: Postscript to the Society’s visit in 1998: John Annandale



The Calvinia area and surrounds – the Bokkeveld and Hantam, 13-15 October 2000

Locations visited were Calvinia, Matjesfontein, Kookfontein, Tier Hoek and Willemsrivier.

Notes compiled by VASSA and include map plans, old historical photographs, building sketches, a James Walton sketch and historical detail.

Bokkeveld & Hantam Oct 00

VASSA Journal 3

VASSA Journal Vol. 03

VASSA Journal Vol. 03

JULY 2000 – Vol. 03


Preface: Policy planning in the Upper Table Valley: Melanie Attwell

Denis Verschoyle (1910-1997): Mieke Verschoyle

Upper Table Valley: a survey (1979): Denis Verschoyle

2000 APRIL

2000 APRIL

LOCATION: Goede Hoop, Groot Drakenstein
LEADER: Hennie Vos

The outing focussed on the homestead of Goede Hoop and the buildings on the property.
Notes were compiled by Hennie Vos and include maps and floor plans,

Goede Hoop April 2000

VASSA Journal 2

VASSA Journal Vol. 02

VASSA Journal Vol. 02

DECEMBER 1999 – Vol. 02


Simonsvlei, the story of a farm and its people, 1691-1999: Margaret Cairns

Three frozen moments in the past: An analysis of Simonsvlei household inventories: Antonia Malan



The Gamkaskloof area – Baviaanskloof, Oosenberg, Brandberg, Kleinberg

Notes include lengthy and interesting details on the development of Gamkaskloof (Lion Gorge) valley from the 1800s as well as detailed descriptions of the houses visited, including description of the furniture inside these houses, features on the properties, a description of watermills.

The report also provides description of the people, demographics, stratification, and the typical Gamkaskloof household, household members and kin groups, as well as description of ecological setting and flora and fauna to be found in the area.

The notes include descriptions of common daily pastimes conducted by the inhabitants as well accounts of oral traditions and folk remedies used in the region. The notes also include illustrations, old historical photographs, and a diagram of a watermill and floor plans of several of the buildings.

Notes were compiled by Thys Hattingh, assisted by Val Taylor, Kathy Dumbrell, Joanna Marx, Antonia Malan and Guido Lugtenburg

Gamkaskloof Oct 99

1999 JULY

1999 JULY

LOCATION: The Paarl Area
LEADER: Dirk Visser

Locations visited were Valencia, Non-Pareil, Onderdal Skool, Huguenot Memorial School and The Huguenot Cemetery.

Notes compiled by VASSA and include photographs and a ground plan for Valencia.

Dal Josaphat Area July 99


VASSSA Journal 1

VASSA Journal Vol. 01

VASSA Journal Vol. 01

JULY  1999 – Vol. 01


A Tribute to James Walton by those who worked with him in the field of vernacular architecture studies in SA.

Reminiscences: Philippina Oberholster

Yorkshireman het Suid-Afrikaners geleer hoe om te bewaar: Martiens van Bart

Working with James Walton: Margaret Cairns

A belated friendship: André Pretorius

Connie Walton: Mary Floyd

Volksboukunde in konteks: Mathys Hattingh

The James Walton Collection: Lynne Fourie

The conservation and interpretation of vernacular architecture: Graeme Binckes

1999 JUNE

1999 JUNE

LOCATION: The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town
LEADER: Gavie & Gwen Fagan

Notes include sketched details and a mid 19th century sketch of the castle under British occupation.

Castle of Good Hope CT June 99


1999 MARCH

1999 MARCH

LOCATION: Elim Mission Settlement
LEADER: Unspecified

Notes include historical detail on the establishment of Elim as a mission settlement.

Elim March 99




The Bonnievale district and surrounding farms and homesteads, held on 24-25 October 1998.
Locations visited were Myrtle Rigg Church, Bonnievale, Riggton, Boesmansdrift, Zanddrift, Nooitgedacht, Mardouw, Jan Harmsgat, Bruintjiesrivier, Gelukshoop, Stormsvlei.

Notes were compiled by Thys Hattingh and include diagrams, maps, historical photographs and artistic interpretations as well as very in depth and detailed historical and genealogical accounts of the Bonnievale area and surrounds. Thys was assisted by Betsie Rood, Marcella Beukmaq, Piet Beukman, M van Hemert, André Pretorius, Anene van Eede, Deo Matthee, Antonia lvlalan, Lesley Hurst and Piet Coetzee.

Bonnievale Oct 98



LOCATION: The Hortus Botanicus (SU Botanical Gardens), Ida’s Valley, Boschendal 
LEADER: Gwen Fagan & Wim Tuijmans

Notes include sketches.

Botanical Gardens Oct 98


1998 JULY

1998 JULY

LOCATION: Forgotten Corners of Wynberg
LEADER: Unspecified

Venues visited: Dunheved, La Plaisance in Wynberg

Notes were compiled by VASSA.

Forgotten Corners of Wynberg 98


1998 APRIL

1998 APRIL

LOCATION: The Hexrivier Area
LEADER: Thys Hattingh

Five Farms along the Hexrivier: kanetvlei, Glen Heatlie, Zeekoegat, Tweefontein and Uitvlugt.

Notes feature old photographs of the farmsteads visited.

5 Farms along Hex River Apr 98



LOCATION: Durbanville area 
LEADER: Eloise Hakin

Venues visited were Groot Phisantekraal, Ou Skakelhuis, Rust en Vrede and 22 Oxford Street.
The focus of the outing was issues of renovation and restoration.

The notes were compiled by Val Taylor, Eloise Hakin, and Thys Hattingh.

Durbanville Nov 97





Citrusdal, held on 13-14 September 1997.

Locations visited were Karnemelksvlei, Kleinvlei, Platkloof, Keerom, Elandskloof, Citrusdal Warm Baths, Modderfontein, Kardouw, Elandskloof, Porteville and Halfmanshof.

Notes also mention The Northern Highway and three passes over the mountains to the Olifants River. They were compiled by Joanna Marx and include floor plans and old historical photographs and sketches.

Citrusdal Sept 97

1997 MAY

1997 MAY

LOCATION: The Nuy Valley Area
LEADER: Thys Hattingh

Venues visited: Memel, Oude Schuur, Glen Oak and Toontjiesrivier.

Notes compiled by Thys Hattingh and M. Jonas and include old photographs of the homesteads visited.

4 Homesteads Nuy Valley May 97

1997 APRIL

1997 APRIL

LOCATION: Four Agter Paarl Farmsteads
LEADER: Thys Hattingh

Notes were compiled by Thys Hattingh and include a description of the architectural features as well as two old photographs of the front facades of the homesteads visited.

4 Agter Paarl Farmstead Apr 97




The Berg and Breede Rivier Valleys, November 1995.

Locations visited were Boesmansvlei, Waboomsrivier, Monter Vue, La Plaisante, Steinthal, Klipfontein, Oude Drostdy, Saron, Zonquasdrift and Allesverloren.

Notes compiled by Dirk Visser and include artistic interpretations of sites visited, historical photographs, hand-drawn diagram plans and a map sketch of the area.

Berg & Breede Rivier Valleys 95



The Bredasdorp district, 29-30 October 1994.

Locations visited were Steenboksrivier, Teslaarsdal, Langefontein (Mountain View), Nacht Wacht, Prinskraal, Springfield, Zoetendals Vallei, Zeekoegat/Zeekoevlei and Karnemelksrivier.

Notes compiled by David van den Heever and include old historical photographs and maps.

Bredasdorp Oct 94


1992 MAY

1992 MAY

De Hoop in the Overberg region, 23-24 May 1992

Notes include the Overberg Stock Farms reprinted from ‘Old Cape Farmsteads’ by James Walton which contain his photographs and illustrations.

The notes, compiled by David van den Heever, also include historical information on the area, sketches, photographs, maps and an extensive list of Cape birds listed under scientific name, common English name and common Afrikaans name.

De Hoop May 92





Settlements visited were Matjiesfontein, Aberdeen, Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda, Wilgerbosch, Lekoog and Rouvierville.

Notes were compiled by VASSA and include artistic interpretations of sites visited, town street maps, rough handdrawn building plans and significant historical photographs and detail.

Aberdeen,Graaff Reinet Sep 91

1991 MAY

1991 MAY

LOCATION: The West Coast Mission Villages
LEADER: Unspecified

Venues visited: De Kasteel in Piquetberg, Banghoek, Wittewater and Goedverwacht.

Notes were compiled by VASSA and include photographs, a sketch, a newspaper extract and interesting history on slavery in the Piquetberg region.

De Kasteel Piquetberg






Notes from the Society’s 25th anniversary outing to the Great Karoo from 19 to 22 October 1989.

Some of the locations and homesteads visited and described were Buffels Kraal, Karbonaatjes Kraal, Jan de Boers (Kwarrie Kloof), Constable (Konstabel), Pieter Meintjies Fontein, Matjiesfontein, Zoute Kloof (Zoute Vlakte), Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Loxton, Vischgat, Klipbank, Konka, Carnarvon (Schietfontein), Fraserburg, Driefontein and Sutherland.

Notes were compiled by James Walton and Joanna Marx and include historical accounts of the areas described, history of the early colonial settlers and settlements and history of the Cape Colony.
The notes also include description of corbelled dwellings and the stone masonry tradition of the Karoo, as well as sketches by James Walton, artistic depictions of dwellings, historical photographs and floor plans.

1989 MAY

1989 MAY

The Old Fishing Harbours on the South Cape Coast

Locations visited visited were Hawston, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Buffelsjagsbaai, Viljoenshof, Blomfontein, Struisbaai, L’Agulhas, Hotagterklip, Arniston as well as the Bredasdorp Museum.

Notes were compiled by James Walton and include photographs and sketches.

Fishing Harbs South Cape 89

1987 MARCH

1987 MARCH

LOCATION: Compagniesdrift, Botrivier
LEADER: Unspecified

Notes for the Society outing to Compagniesdrift in Bot River
They were compiled by VASSA and include a sketch of the “Stamford Mill” and sketched maps of the area.

Compagniesdrift Botrivier 87

Early Cape Lime-Kilns

Early Cape Lime-Kilns

Early Cape Lime-Kilns: James Walton 

Cape Lime-Kilns 1987 – James Walton

1979 APRIL

1979 APRIL

LOCATION: The Stellenbosch area: Blaauwklip, Spier and Vergenoegd
LEADER: Willem Malherbe

Farms visited were Blaauwklip, Spier and Vergenoegd.

Notes compiled by Willem Malherbe and include a photograph of Blaauwklip and drawn plans of the buildings.

17th Century Farms Stellenbosch, 79





LOCATION: The Tygerberg Valley
LEADER: Jean Parker, John Rennie

Locations visited in the Tygerberg valley were Welbeloond, Vissershok, Contemanskloof, Groot Roosboom, Altydgedacht, the Dutch Reformed Church, the All Saints Church, Oxford Street and Phesantekraal.

Notes were compiled by Jean Parker, assisted by John Rennie and include a historical sketch of the Tygerberg area.

Durbanville Aug 76

1976 MARCH

1976 MARCH

 Bredasdorp and the Strandveld area, held on 6-7 March 1976.

Locations visited were the Klein Zanddrif Brickfield, Klein Zanddrif, Klein Zanddrif Water-Mill, Arniston/Waenhuiskrans, Nacht Wacht, Prinskraal, Vögelgesang, Seekoevlei.

Notes compiled by John Rennie and Jan Nieuwmeijer, and include a historical photo and some sketches of the buildings.

Bredasdorp March 76


1975 MARCH

1975 MARCH

LOCATION: Historic Farms of the Stellenbosch Wine Route
LEADER: Idris Jones

VENUES VISITED: Neethlingshof, Bellevue, Hazendal, Welgevonden, Goede Hoop, Klein Bottelary

Notes were compiled by Idris Jones and include sketches.

Farms of the Wine Route Mar 75

Folk Life

Folk Life

Folk Life by James Walton 

Vol 13 – 1975

Special Issues Folk Life Vol 13 James Walton



The Cold Bokkeveld and The Ceres Basin, 21- 22 September 1974

Locations visited were Boplaas, Wagendrift, De Keur, Groenfontein, De Molen Rivier, Prince Alfred’s Hamlet and Rhodona.

Notes compiled by James Walton and include a map of the area.
The notes also explore the socio-geographical factors influencing early settlement of the Cold Bokkeveld and Ceres basin.

Cold Bokkeveld & Ceres Basin 74




The Bredasdorp, Strandveld and Duineveld areas 16-17 October 1971

Locations visited were Fairfield, Napier, Mountain View, Bredasdorp, Zeekoevlei, Hotagterklip, Zoetendalsvlei, Elim and Stanford.

Notes compiled by VASSA.

Bredasdorp Oct 71

1971 APRIL

1971 APRIL

Clanwilliam and Wupperthal, held on 24-25 April, 1971

Locations visited were 1971 APRIL Clanwilliam and Wupperthal Within Clanwilliam buildings that were inspected were the Anglican Church, the Rectory, the Old Dutch Reformed Church, The Goal, Park Street, De Vlei

Notes were compiled by Hans Fransen and includes an artistic interpretation of the Jan Disselsvlei homestead.

Clanwilliam 1971




LOCATION: Farms in The Franschhoek Valley
LEADER: Mary Floyd

Venues visited: L’Arc De Orleans, La Provence, La Cotte, La Dauphine.

Notes were compiled by Mary Floyd.

Fransch Hoek Oct 67





Matroosberg Farms and homesteads: Karbonaatjes Kraal, Bokke Rivier and Verloren Vallei. 

The notes touch on some of the surrounding early colonial history and make mention of William Burchell who wrote, in the early 1800s of his accounts travelling through Southern Africa.

They were compiled by James Walton and include floor plans of one of the homesteads visited.

3 Matroosberg Houses

Eensaamheid - Lange Kloof - by James Walton

Eensaamheid – Lange Kloof – by James Walton

Eensaamheid – Lange Kloof – by James Walton

Published 1961

1961 – Eensaamheid Lange Kloof – James Walton