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Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Date:1693 : 1776
Style:Cape Dutch


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34°01'00.11" S 18°45'24.64" E Alt: 20m

The earliest deeds for Meerlust are signed by Simon van der Stel and dated 1693. These lands extended much further than the present farm, and there were grazing rights as far afield as Saldanha Bay. The original T-shaped house of plastered stone was built by Henning Hüsing, an illiterate German stockman, whose wheelings and dealings in sheep and cattle with the Dutch East India Company earned for him the possible distinction of becoming South Africa's first millionaire.

Hüsing was one of the settlers instrumental in precipitating the Burghers' uprising against Willem Adriaan van der Stel, and for this he was banished to his homeland. However, when, in turn, van der Stel was sent back to Netherllands in disgrace, Hüsing returned to the Cape and to Meerlust.

After Hüsing's death in 1713, lands changed from owner to owner until 1757, when Meerlust became the property of Johannes Albertus Mijburg, remaining in the family to this day, Meerlust is the oldest surviving grand farmhouse in the Stellenbosch district. The gabled facade was added in 1776, when the house was enlarged to an H-plan. Much of the original teak woodwork remains, and the front door is especially beautiful with its brass door handle and escutcheon plate, dated with the year of the embellishment of the homestead. As authentic as the exterior, the interior has all its woodwork intact, including an unusual staircase and a pair of elegant muurkaste, Meerlust is a truly outstanding example of a Cape Dutch homestead. At the rear of the homestead the outhouses of the werf stand in a row, which is usual arrangement. Each building is of great interest. Most famous of all the Meerlust buildings is the gabled pigeon loft, a delightful small, double-storeyed structure with enclosed yards on either side, presumably for cock fighting. Also on the property are an interesting walled graveyard, a particularly beautiful slave bell and a sundial dated 1732.

(Picton-Seymour, 1989: 68-9)

For further information on the measured drawings see Pearse Collection.

Writings about this entry

Cloete, Nini Bairnsfather & Fraser, Craig . 2016. Remarkable heritage houses of South Africa. Rondebosch: Quivertree Publications. pg 126-139
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 225-228
Gaylard, Shaun & McDougall, Brett . 2022. RSA 365 : 365 Drawings of South African Architecture. Johannesburg: Blank Ink Design. pg 22 ill
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 26
Heap, Peggy. 1970. The Story of Hottentots Holland : Social history of Somerset West, The Strand Gordon's Bay and Sir Lowry Pass over three centuries . Cape Town: Balkema. pg 57 - 59
Hoefsloot, Ted (illustrations) & Pama, Cor (text). 1980. Cape Wine Homesteads. Johannesburg: AD Donker. pg 78 & 79 (ill)
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 68-69
Simons, Phillida Brooke. 2003. Meerlust ; 300 years of hospitality. Cape Town: Fernwood. pg All
Trotter, Alys Fane. 1928. Old Cape Colony. A chronicle of her men and houses from 1652 to 1806. London: Selwyn & Blount. pg 120, 121, 155-157
Trotter, Alys Fane. 1900. Old colonial houses of the Cape of Good Hope : illustrated and described. London: B. T. Batsford. pg 12-13, Plates XII, XIII