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Twenty-four Rivers farmhouse
Vaalwater district, Limpopo

OWNER: Architect

Date:1910
Client:EA Davidson
Type:Farmhouse
Style:Transvaal Vernacular
Status:Extant
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The farm house, built as the family home for the newly married couple EA (Ted) and Mary (Molly) Davidson in 1910, follows what had become a Transvaal vernacular style, having the same planning principles of the earlier then extant homestead of the 'Aunts' located to the west of the farm, built on the ruins of an earlier pre-war [Anglo Boer/ South African War] Boer dwelling. While the other was thatched, this is roofed in corrugated iron. It was the last of a sequence of dwellings, the first being a rondavel, the second a small cottage. The planning is typical with quartered square floor plan bisected by a walk through pantry, some of the rooms inter-leading but also all opening to the cat-slide veranda to four sides. The main house is under the typical pyramid roof. The substructure is of sundried mud bricks, with smeared clay in the fashion of the indigenes. Windows and doors are of timber, and as with the roof sheeting, imported, typical of the era, but in places the folk practices prevail, such as turnbuckle catches, curtained corner cupboards and suchlike. A fireplace is centrally located between living room and main bedroom so while opening directly to the living area, shares heat with the bedroom behind. It penetrates the roof at the ridge. Unusual is the canted ceiling over the living room with main tie beams exposed.

The stoep once had a post and stickwork exterior support but this has been disguised by columns of local rough-cleaved sandstone, which is also used for 'crazy-paving' flags on the stoep. Typical of the period, the house is orientated with main living areas to the south, and a free standing kitchen and dairy room to the north. These were typically separated from the main house because of the dangers of fire and to have the activities of servants remote from the occupants of the house.

Planning can be understood as a climatic response where the volume of the roof kept the living areas cool and the stoep the mass of the building and openings shaded. The pantry at the centre was the most protected from temperature extremes.

Associated with the main structure is the old wagon house and flue (tobacco) barn. A little squaredavel near the wagon house was used as a dormitory for farm labourer's children who attended the EA Davidson Memorial Farm School, then located on the Farm (some buildings still extant).

Over the years various outbuildings have been added such as bedroom rondavels and a longdavel for guests (built by Horace Gaylard in the mid-seventies when he and his wife Jane [nee Davidson] retired there).

The farm had avenues of large gums following the various routes off the farm, that to the south-east being the main entrance and road to the Farm Store and Twenty-Four Rivers postal agency also located on the farm (demolished 2008), that to the north west to the Bushveld where Davidson would hunt, barter and trade, that to the west to St John's Church and Aunts' house.

The garden was in typical English formal style, but a pathway led to a small stream and irrigation dam where the planting followed the style of the picturesque English Landscape tradition and where the family picnicked.

Of interest is a rustic trickle fountain and bird bath of piled conglomerate stone constructed in 1954 by Norman EATON in memory of his friend Elizabeth Frances Clarke (nee Davidson) whose grave is to be found in St John's cemetary.

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.