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Tulbagh, Western Cape

Client:Elizabeth Cruywagen
Style:Cape Dutch
Street:43 Church Street


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33°16'58.70" S 19°08'17.27" E Alt: 150m

A fairly typical U-shaped (see Alphabet plans) house was built at the end of Church Street shortly after the death of the Rev HW Ballot in 1814 by his widow Elizabeth Cruywagen. A number of historians have suggested that Louis Michel THIBAULT may have had a hand in the design of the façade as he was related to the widow by marriage and had been a frequent visitor to Tulbagh while the Drostdy was being built (1805-1807) probably staying as a guest of the Rev Ballot at the Pastorie.1 Ballotina was used as a dwelling until 1877 when it was used for school purposes and lodgings for the teachers. This continued until 1905 when a new school was built in the town and it was again used as a dwelling. It was eventually bought by Dr Mary Cook in 1945.

At the time of the earthquake in 1969 successive owners had substantially altered the building giving it a veranda and bay windows and a corrugated iron roof. The internal layout remained except that the dividing wall between the two rooms on the northern side of the house had been removed creating a single very large room. The building was apparently badly damaged in the earthquake and it was decided to remove the later Victorian layers and reconstruct lost features. A detailed description of the “restoration” is set out by the Fagans.2 It is worth noting that while much of the reconstruction was typical of the Fagan’s Church Street, Dr Cook appears to have been quite a forceful character and not all the pre-existing features were rebuilt. She also insisted on a large sliding sash widow being installed in the sitting room. In a nod to 1970s modernity a bathroom and kitchen was added under a simple lean-to roof on the northwest corner of the house. The garage built by Dr Cook on the northern boundary was given a thatch roof and brandsolder.

After Dr Cook’s death in 1981 the house went through successive owners but remained largely unchanged. In 2005 it was turned into a restaurant and some changes were made to plumbing and electrical systems. A kitchen was set up in the bedroom on the southwest corner of the house but the layout remained the same. The restaurant failed and once again Ballotina became a school for a few years. The school relocated to a Tulbagh farm at the beginning of 2007 and the building has been empty since then.

The then owner attempted to sell the property without success. Believing that the lack of bathrooms was a major drawback and without obtaining the necessary permit he attempted to create 2 new bathrooms in the central bedroom on the south side of the house. This work was not completed. A wall was also built enclosing a courtyard on the northeast corner of the house to screen this area from the public. Again the work was not completed before Ballotina was sold. The building has been neglected for some years and is in need of repair.

The dwelling was proclaimed as a National Monument in 1971 in terms of the National Monuments Act, 1969 (Act No. 28 of 1969). In 2000, the National Heritage Resources Act (Act No.25 of 1999) (NHRA) replaced the National Monuments Act and in terms of this legislation all former National Monuments became Grade 2 or Provincial Heritage Sites falling under the jurisdiction of Heritage Western Cape (HWC).3

  1. FRANSEN, H. 2004.. The Old Buildings Of The Cape. Jonathan Ball. Cape Town. Pg. 373
  2. Ibid Fagan Pg. 167
  3. Section 27(18) of the NHRA states that no person may destroy damage, deface, excavate, alter, remove from its original position, subdivide or change the planning status of a PHS without the authority of the Provincial heritage agency.

From a document by Henry Aikman, 2009.

Update April 2011 by Norman Collins - photographer in Tulbagh

Ballotina has been sold and is the process of been renovated. Plaster removed and replaced, re-thatched. The front door and windows were removed and repaired. New bathroom is being put in. It is expected that the renovations will be completed in about 2 months.

Writings about this entry

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pg 373