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Kenilworth, Cape Town, Western Cape

Style:Cape Dutch
Street:Stellenberg Avenue

Farmlands once covered almost the entire suburbs of Kenilworth and Claremont. The first grant of land was made to Jacob Vogel in 1697, though soon afterwards the property was bought by Frans van der Stel. The original dwelling had been destroyed by fire and the ambitious new owner rebuilt Stellenberg in its present form, deriving inspiration from his father's magnificent homestead, Groot Constantia. The gables and other details of the two houses have marked similarities.

When Willem Adriaan van der Stel returned to the Netherlands to face charges of bribery and corruption, his younger brother Frans went with him. His wife, Johanna, remained at the Cape to manage Stellenberg and it was not until 1713 that she sold the property. It was bought by Christina van Canary, a freed slave from the Canary Islands. She married a freed slave named Jacobus Hendrickz, and they carried on farming there for 17 years.

Eventually Stellenberg was taken over by Jan de Witt - John White - a wealthy Englishman who lived in style, surrounded by his large family and taking an active part in the affairs of Cape Town. The next person to live there in a lavish manner was acting Governor ]ohan Isaac Rhenius, who sold the property in 1802 to Adriaan van Schoor. It was during van Schoor's ownership of Stellenberg that Commissioner General J A de Mist stayed at the house together with his 19-year-old daughter, Auguste.

Changing hands many times, from the mid-19th century onwards, the farmlands of Stellenberg were sold off as the suburbs developed, especially after the advent of the railway. Earlier this century the firm of Sir Herbert Baker made some unfortunate alterations and additions to the house. However, today the magnificent house and outbuildings of the werf still stand, surrounded by a large garden shaded by ancient oaks.

(Picton-Seymour, 1989: 43)

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

Cloete, Nini Bairnsfather & Fraser, Craig . 2016. Remarkable heritage houses of South Africa. Rondebosch: Quivertree Publications. pg 164-177
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 23
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 43