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MANSERGH, Brian George Lewis

Born: 1897 05 30
Died: 1977


Reg No: 171
Year registered: 1927

ARIBA (1922); CPIA (1927); ISAA (1927).

Was born in Wynberg, Cape; he was the son of CLW Mansergh and was educated at Rondebosch Boys' High School and at the South African College School. He studied Civil Engineering (1919-20) at the University of Cape Town before joining the office of KENDALL & MORRIS in Cape Town in December 1920-1921. He studied for a year (1922) at the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, taking the special war examination of the RIBA in July 1922. Professor CH Reilly added a note to Mansergh's application for Associate membership of the RIBA (1922): 'he is a man of taste, education and a good draughtsman and designer.' Mansergh received a certificate in Civic Design as well as Architecture from Liverpool.

He returned to Cape Town about 1924 when he seems to have resumed work in Kendall's office; he also lectured in Building Construction at the Cape Town Technical College in 1925, the year in which he married. FK KENDALL invited him into partnership in July 1927 (cf KENDALL & MANSERGH). The partnership lasted until 30 June 1932 when Mansergh succeeded LF McCONNELL as lecturer in Architecture, UCT, owing to the latter's sudden death. At some point he travelled overseas again for study purposes in America and London. Mansergh, J MORRIS and WJ DELBRIDGE were the assessors of the competition for the Tenement Flats on Council Land above Lion Street in Cape Town, a competition promoted by the City Council of Cape Town (AB&E Jan 1934:12). He was an associate with CP WALGATE on several buildings.

Mansergh was elected vice-president of the Cape Provincial Institute of Architects from 1932 until 1933 and president of the CPIA 1933-34. Upon his election as president of the CPIA in 1933, Sir Albert Gilbert Scott, then president of the RIBA, wrote to him 'I am sure that under your Presidency the friendly relations between your Institute and the RIBA will be maintained and strengthened and I need hardly say that if at any time I, as President of the RIBA, can assist you in any way, I shall be only too happy to do so by any means in my power' (AB&E Aug 1933:23). Mansergh continued to practise on his own account in Cape Town (at this point it is not clear if he was still lecturing at the University of Cape Town). In 1938 he won the Cape Provincial Institute of Architects' Bronze Medal for the Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa.

Mansergh appears to have admired natural landscape. He was instrumental in alerting the authorities to the possibility of acquiring the wilderness of Cape Point as a reserve. He had spent his childhood years exploring the mountains and shores when weekending or holidaying on Smith's Farm, previously Buffelsfontein, acquired by the Smith's grandfather in 1886. When he heard that the elderly Mrs Smith might sell in 1928 he wrote to the then Minister of Lands, the Hon P Grobler proposing the acquisition of the entire peninsula including the farm, as state land for purposes of a reserve. By 1938 the circumstances repeated themselves, this time he petitioning the then Minister, General Kemp, who, however, had no enthusiasm for the project. Never-the-less this prompted the creation of a public forum for the pursuit of the idea, eventually realised, but Mansergh's role fading from the record (Fraser, 1994: 28-30). At some point he bought about 1 300 hectares of Cape coastal land at Hagenkraal and apparently stipulated in his will that this land should be sold to no-one unless they loved it as he did.

When Mansergh died in 1977, his obituarist made it clear that a number of works by Kendall & Mansergh, if not a few belonging to the years prior to partnership, were the responsibility of Mansergh. The Kendall & Earle Gift (University of Cape Town Libraries) has a number of drawings by Mansergh executed between 1928 and 1933 when he was Kendall's partner.

George M WILLIS (jnr) worked in his office in 1938.


Brian Mansergh was married and then divorced and had no children. Upon his death in 1977 his substantial estate was divided amongst several charities related to the welfare of animals. On 7th September 1981 Sotheby Parke Bernet South Africa arranged a sale at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, of “Important Drawings, Watercolours, Prints & Books from the Lewis and Brian Mansergh Collection”. Sotheby Parke Bernet had already provided valuations of these watercolours held by Brian Mansergh for estate purposes in his Estate file (Cape Archives - 4406/77).

The items sold that day included important paintings by Thomas Baines, Thomas Bowler, and other works by Herbert BAKER, William Daniell, H.C. de Meillon, Sir Alexander Moncrieff, Louis Michel THIBAULT, original photographs by Arthur ELLIOTT and books such as Harris’s PORTRAITS OF THE GAME (1840); and Burchell’s TRAVELS (1822-24). The watercolours by Major John Craven Carden Mansergh offered here were Lot 46. In the same Lot was Major Mansergh’s Buckmaster officer’s sword. That item is no longer with the watercolours! The sale was viewed as being of such import that Lord John Kerr, a senior member of Sotheby Parke Bernet in London, travelled out to Cape Town to take charge of the sale. The 1981 Sotheby’s catalogue accompanies the watercolours [here] offered. It is assumed that the antique dealer Julian Adler of Julian Adler Antiques, corner Church and Loop Streets, Cape Town, purchased the watercolours as his ticket appears on the rear of the one frame. On the ticket, in Adler’s handwriting, appears the incorrect information indicating they are the work of “Major John Craven” but he then provides a correct reference to page 194 of A. Gordon-Brown’s PICTORIAL AFRICANA (1975) which deals with works by Major J.C.C. Mansergh. The watercolours were framed by Maxwoods (established c. 1980) and on the rear of the framed items their stamp appears together with the job number ''5425''. According to the present owners that would confirm the framing being completed in the first few years of the firm’s existence and would tally with the date of the auction. [Extracted from Select Books. 2020. Africana Catalogue No. 83, Nov: 9-10 See Select Books]

Some Notes on Mansergh's Forebears

John Craven Carden Mansergh (1812-1882), the creator of these [Catalogue 83 item 2] watercolours, was born in Portarlington in southern Ireland in 1812. His father, Daniel, was an officer in the British Army, serving in the 48th and 31st Regiments. In July 1831 J.C.C. Mansergh also joined the British Army. He served as an officer in the 6th (Warwickshire) Regiment. A year after he enlisted William IV conferred the title “Royal” on the Regiment and it thus became the 6th Royal Warwickshire Regiment.The Regiment saw service all over the world and in 1847 they were sent to the Cape where they participated in the War of the Axe. The Regiment was destined to remain at the Cape for the next decade.

In the Cape of Good Hope Almanac for 1847 (p. 187) Mansergh is listed as being the Adjutant of the unit with the rank of Lieutenant. In the Almanac for 1848 (p. 187) he is listed as being a Captain. For the next three years Mansergh’s name continues to appear as a Captain, based in Cape Town. In the Almanacs for 1852-1855 he is reported to be based with his Regiment in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. It was during this period that his Regiment saw extensive action in the war that had broken out in the Amatola mountains and on the northern border of the Eastern Cape. This conflict is often referred to as the Eighth Frontier War and took place from 1850-1853.

In 1856 the 6th Royal Warwickshire Regiment moved from the Cape to India where they saw action during the Mutiny. Mansergh was promoted to the rank of Major on 19th February 1858. Unfortunately, this promotion led Mansergh to an ill-advised course of action. His superior, Colonel Barnes, indicated to Mansergh that due to his promotion, he would be deprived of his command in the field. It seems that Mansergh had developed a very close bond with his men (they had been together in times of considerable danger for a lengthy period). Mansergh accordingly asked that he continue to serve with his own Company. This was denied and as a result Mansergh wrote a very strongly worded letter to the Colonel of the Warwickshires wherein he indicated, amongst other statements, that the Colonel should be “horse- whipped”. Consequently, Mansergh faced a court martial.

The court martial was held under the auspices of Major-General Dupuis, RA, on Monday 2nd August 1858 in Calcutta. During the testimony provided Major Mansergh also indicated that he was prepared to hand back the British Kaffraria medal he had been awarded as some of his men, who had served with him in the Eastern Cape, had still not received their medals. This too was viewed by the Court as being insulting to the Army. (see AP 1980-449, National Library of South Africa).Major Mansergh continued to serve, but only briefly, in the 15th Regiment. By 1863 Major Mansergh had returned to Cape Town and in that year applied to the Cape Governor for a Remission Certificate which would allow him to gain a grant of land at the Cape (CO volume 4131, M44 - Cape Archives).

He married Lucinda Maria Georgiana Smith (1832-1910) at the Cape and lived in Wynberg. Out of the union three children were born. Florence Nightingale Straith (?-1918), Cornwall Lewis Warwickshire (1863-1935) and Ellen Alice Maria Wentworth Waterhouse (1869-1943). Lucinda M.G. Mansergh was also interested in art and the National Library in Cape Town carries an accession (MSB 785) which showcases her interests and drawings, including a small watercolour dated 29th March 1856 showing a sailing vessel leaving Table Bay. A further drawing shows a man in uniform standing awkwardly in a Cape house and is entitled “6th Regt.” This might possibly be a young Captain Mansergh.

The marriage was not successful and J.C.C. Mansergh left his wife and children at the Cape and departed for Ireland. In early 1882 he passed away in the town of his birth, Portarlington. His will was lodged in both Ireland and at the Cape. That his separation from his wife was not an amicable one can be judged from the fact that he left his estate equally to his three children and only in the event of all three of them predeceasing their mother “God forbid that any should die”, would any funds be handed to Lucinda Mansergh. See Cape Archives: MOOC 6/9/185, no. 3399 (Death Notice), MOOC 7/1/427 (Will), MOOC 13/1/400, no. 8 (Liquidation and Distribution account).

The son of the marriage, C.L.W Mansergh, matriculated from the South African College in 1881 and applied for a position in the Cape civil service (CO vol. 4210, no. M7). His application was supported by Sir Hampden Willis (British Colonial Secretary) who, on Government House notepaper, indicated “His father was a well-known and distinguished officer”. C.L.W. Mansergh had an impressive career in the Cape Provincial service rising to high office. He received the O.B.E. and was appointed as a Companion of the Imperial Service Order. He lived in Wynberg where he also served on various committees and acted as a Justice of the Peace. C.L.W. Mansergh married Soldelina (also spelt as Zoldeline) Susannah van Reede van Oudtshoorn, daughter of Baron Goert van Reede van Oudtshoorn. From that union Brian George Lewis Mansergh (1897-1977) was born. [Extracted from Select Books. 2020. Africana Catalogue No. 83, Nov: 7-9 See Select Books]

(AB&E Aug 1933:23; AB&E Jun 1935:8,9, obit CLW Mansergh; ARIBA nom papers (1922) 3576; Kendall & Earle Gift, UCT Libr BC 206; RIBA Jnl Oct 1977:443, death notice; SAAR Apr 1933:84; SAWW 1931/2; SAWW 1935)

These notes were last edited on 2020 11 19

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

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

2 houses: 1936. Claremont, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
CAN: 1937. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Cheminais Furniture Factory - Gabriel House: 1936. Plumstead, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Culemborg Goods Offices Administration Building: 1952-1955. Foreshore, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Culemborg Goods Terminal - Station Sheds and End Screen Offices : 1952. Foreshore, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Culemborg Police Post: 1952-1955. Foreshore, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Culemborg Tarpaulin Depot: 1952-1953. Foreshore, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Government Offices: 1939. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Hortor's Building: n.d. : 1930 : 1939. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
House: 1939. Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
House at Wynberg: c1932. Wynberg, Western Cape - Architect
House Bisset - Blue Skyes: 1935. Kalk Bay, Western Cape - Architect
House H Tevis: alt, The Vineyards: 1932. Wynberg, Western Cape - Architect
House HV Batten: 1939. Sandown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House Miss AM Buchanan: 1932. Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
House Mrs John Orr: 1936. St James, Western Cape - Architect
House OB Chisholm: 1933. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
House SJ Bond: 1936. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
House Stratford - Robin Rise: 1940. Kalk Bay, Western Cape - Architect
House: Silvertrees, alt: 1937. Wynberg, Western Cape - Architect
Huguenot Memorial Museum: 1966. Franschhoek, Western Cape - Architect
Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa: 1938. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Primary School: 1939. Crawford, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Residence at Newlands: 1933. Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
United Building: 1936. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Yardley of London (Africa) Pty Ltd - Indigo Brands: 1959. Epping, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect

Books citing MANSERGH

Crump, Alan & Van Niekerk, Raymund. 1988. Public sculptures & reliefs Cape Town. Cape Town: Clifton Publications. pp 30

Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pp 108-109

Cumming-George, L. 1934. Architecture in South Africa - Volume Two. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pp 82-83

Fraser, Michael & McMahon, Liz (Illustrator). 1994. Between two shores : flora and fauna of the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town: David Philip. pp 28-30

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 100

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 94, 209

ISAA. 1969. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1968-1969 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1968-1969. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 97, 161

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp M6-7

SAWW & Donaldson, K. 1935. South African Who's Who (Social and Business) 1935. Cape Town: Ken Donaldson. pp 134

SAWW & Donaldson, K. 1938. South African Who's Who (Social and Business) 1938. Cape Town: Ken Donaldson. pp 163

Walker, Michael. 2010. A Statement In Stone. Cape Town: Privately published by Michael Walker. pp 39-40

Walker, Michael. 2016. Families and farms of the southern peninsula and Cape Point; The : The history of a bygone era. Kalk Bay: Kalk Bay Historical Association. pp 88