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Boschendal
Franschhoek, Western Cape

Date:1812
Type:Homestead
Style:Cape Dutch
Status:Extant

One of the most spectacular of Cape Dutch homesteads, Boschendal stands on two early grants of land to Huguenot settlers. Firstly a portion was granted to Nicholas de la Noy, and then slightly later an adjacent piece of land was granted to Jean le Long. These farms were consolidated in 1715, when they were bought by another Huguenot settler, Abraham de Villiers. Remaining in the de Villiers family for over a hundred years, the house was enlarged to its present form by Paul, the 20th child of Jean de Villiers. The elaborate front gable bears the date 1818 and the initials of Paul and his wife Anna.

Cecil John RHODES established Rhodes Fruit Farms in 1898 and Boschendal, together with a group of other farms, was acquired for the purpose of growing fruit other than grapes, following the devastation of the latter due to phylloxera. The architect Herbert BAKER, who had a keen interest in Cape Dutch buildings, renovated the various homesteads on these farms, including Boschendal. Today Rhodes Fruit Farms come under the administration of the Anglo American Corporation, and during the 1970s Boschendal and its attendant outbuildings were completely restored for the benefit of the public.

A house of ample proportions, Boschendal is H-shaped in plan, standing high on a plinth-like stoep which entirely surrounds the building. At every corner there are rounded pilasters, their capitals uncomfortably supporting the intricate end-gables. There are similar pilasters on the front and back gables, but here they marry with the general, somewhat classical design. Above each curved-topped small-paned sash window is a curved moulding, giving an appearance of softness, and tying in with the curves of the gables. The house has a rough sophistication that is delightful against the magnificent setting of towering mountains.

The interior is splendid, with the original wall colourings and painted dados restored to their pristine richness. The woodwork - yellowwood, stinkwood and teak - is massive, yet has the delicate mouldings associated with architecture influenced by the Huguenots. Especially beautiful is the screen dividing the voor- and agterkamers, louvred and with ebony decorations in geometric patterns. Now furnished with antiques of the period, the interiors are among the most impressive in the country.

Each outbuilding placed down either side of the long werf is of particular interest; some with their once-crumbling gables restored, others simple rustic buildings. The fowl run with its nesting boxes recessed into the thick walls is outstanding as a diminutive piece of architecture and even the pigsties are beautifully integrated at the far end of the opstal.

(Picton Seymour, 1989: 58-59)

Wording on the National Monuments Council plaque.

BOSCHENDAL
THIS FARM WAS ORIGINALLY GRANTED TO THE HUGUENOT JEAN
LE LONG IN 1685. IN THE YEAR 1717 IT BECAME THE PROPERTY
AND HOME OF JACQUES DE VILLIERS AND HIS WIFE MARGUERITE
GARDIOL. THEIR GRANDSON PAUL BUILT THIS HOUSE IN 1812.
THE FARM REMAINED IN THE POSSESSION OF THE DE VILLIERS
FAMILY UNTIL 1879. THE HOMESTEAD WAS RESTORED IN 1976
BY RFF LIMITED.
National Monuments Council
1976

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

Hartdegen, Paddy. 1988. Our building heritage : an illustrated history. South Africa: Ryll's Pub. Co. on behalf of the National Development Fund for the Building Industry. pg 45
Hoefsloot, Ted (illustrations) & Pama, Cor (text). 1980. Cape Wine Homesteads. Johannesburg: AD Donker. pg 38 & 39 (ill)
Trotter, Alys Fane. 1928. Old Cape Colony. A chronicle of her men and houses from 1652 to 1806. London: Selwyn & Blount. pg 190-192
Trotter, Alys Fane. 1900. Old colonial houses of the Cape of Good Hope : illustrated and described. London: B. T. Batsford. pg 15-16, Plate XXIX