The Stellenbosch Village Museum
The Stellenbosch Village Museum is made up of four historic houses and their gardens. Each home represents a separate time period in the history of Stellenbosch. The restoration and decoration of the houses, their interiors and their gardens serves to illustrate the particular style and taste of the time. Each home is a true representation of the dominant styles, tastes and technologies available at the time that it was originally lived in.
The museum is set in a beautifully kept part of the famous town. These four historic homes are not the only remarkable old buildings to be seen in the area, but they are definitely the most faithful to their individual histories.
The setting of the Museum is one of the most beautiful locations in the Southern hemisphere. No wonder the original Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, named the town after himself.
The first restoration was performed on the Schreuderhuis which was built in 1709. As such, the Schreuderhuis is the oldest restored and documented town house in the whole of South Africa. It even has the right to boast that it survived the very first great fire in Stellenbosch! The garden and the interior furnishings are splendid examples of a typical Stellenbosch home from the period of 1680 – 1720. The home is a true reflection of its surroundings as much of the furniture has been crafted from local materials.
One of the most notable features of the structure is the open hearth in the kitchen. Strings of onions, herbs and salted fish decorate the kitchen rafters and the hand-built, sturdy Cape furniture provides seating for the ghosts of the large, hardworking pioneer family that lived and ate here.
Blettermanhuis is the second home in the Museum complex. This opulent dwelling has been exquisitely restored and decorated in a manner true to the style preferred in a wealthy Stellenbosch home during the period of 1750 - 1790. Hendrik Lodewyk Bletterman, built Blettermanhuis in 1789. Bletterman was the very last magistrate of Stellenbosch to be appointed by the Dutch East India Company.
The home was built in the magnificent and much famed 18th Century Cape style, with 6 gables in an “H” shaped ground plan. It shows all the typical architectural features of a house from this period including a beautifully appointed “voorkaamer” (a lounge) where guests were greeted and entertained.
Grosvenor House was originally built by Christian Ludolph Neethling in 1782. Successive owners added to it over the years until it came, in 1803, to look as it does today. Grosvenor House is one of the most outstanding examples of a two-storied, flat-roofed, patrician town house. A large number of these houses were built during the period both in Stellenbosch as well as in Cape Town. Other prime examples include Koopmans de Wet House and the Martin Melck House in Cape Town.
A spacious garden provided a blissful retreat from the hustle of 19th century small-town life and you can still drink in the elegant calm of the beautiful plantings, some of which have lasted since they took root (somewhere between1800 and 1830).
OM Bergh was deputy bailiff of the area and his house now carries his name. Olof Marthinus Bergh and his family lived in the fourth museum house from 1836 up to 1877. The original building had a thatched roof and gables of a similar style similar to those of Blettermanhuis. The house was altered during the 19th Century to look as it does today. This beautiful home is a perfect example of mid-nineteenth century residential architecture and interiors with wall-paper, furniture and décor objects from the period of 1850 to 1870.
The Charm of Stellenbosch is in the rich variety of culture and history that can be experienced in this atmospheric setting. You would be remiss to visit the heart of the winelands without sampling some of the award-winning vintages available. These are best enjoyed with a gourmet meal as prepared by one of the internationally acclaimed local and international chefs who have chosen to make Stellenbosch their home.
The wine itself is grown amidst some of the most beautiful countryside known to man. Imagine the big African sky as the backdrop for dramatic, craggy mountains, lush green valleys and myriad wildlife. Rolling between the town and the mountains are swathes and folds of colourful vineyards. As the last of the late-harvest grapes ripen in the autumn sun, the fields appear to turn to flame as the vine leaves go every warm hue from purple to cadmium yellow. Even the worst photographer in the world would be hard-pressed to take home anything but masterful shots!
Stellenbosch, with its magnificent surroundings, rich past and vibrant modern life-style, is a perfect getaway for anyone who wants to absorb a little history in one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
About The Author:
Villa Grande offers luxurious guest house accommodation in Stellenbosch. The guest house is situated in the historic centre of the picturesque Cape Winelands leaving guests with a stunning view.
Contact Niel today to find out more about visiting Stellenbosch .