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Cuyler Manor - Museum
Kariega (Uitenhage) district, Eastern Cape

Style:Cape Dutch


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33°47'33.99" S 25°26'53.86" E Alt: 25m

The house is one of the most easterly examples of the Cape Dutch Style.

The Following text giving the history of the building is displayed at the museum:

Colonel Cuyler purchased the farm Doom Kraal from a Dutch farmer,Johannes Booyse, in 1814 for 1000 rix-dollars and renamed it Cuyler Manor. He acquired over 32 000 acres of land during his 22 years as Landdrost of Uitenhage, but it was on Doom Kraal that he built the homestead to which he retired in 1827, after the system of Landdrost was abolished.

The house was built by slave labour, as was the custom in those early days. As the workers were not craftsmen trained in any particular track, it can be seen that the doors do not hang true and the walls in the passage are not straight. The same can be noticed in the walls of the wagon house.

Cuyler Manor was built in the Cape Dutch style on the T-plan, with the voorkamer flanked by a bedroom on each side. The rooms behind it open onto the passage, which leads to the kitchen. The room to the left of the voorkamer was General Cuyler's bedroom. A small room, once used as a dressing room, leads off the bedroom. The bedroom has a muurkas with the original wooden doors.

There are two cellars, one under each of the front bedrooms. The cellar under the left bedroom was used to store fruit and vegetables, while the other was used as a dairy.

The walls are of sun-dried bricks covered with lime plaster. The roof is high pitched and has been restored to the original thatch. The loft stretches the length and the breadth of the house and there is a "brand solder". The Yellowwood rafters and beams in the roof are mortised and pinned.

Many changes were made to the house. At some time a veranda with wooden railings and trim was added to the front. In 1928 the wooden trellis was removed and replaced by a brick wall. Verandas were added on both sides and a bedroom constructed on the East side. The entrance to the house was then on the North side. The kitchen was modernised.

The Municipality purchased the house in 1966 from the Cuyler Family and restored it during the 1970's to its original Cape Dutch style. The slate roof tiles were replaced with thatch, the centre gable (removed when the thatch burnt down) restored, the verandas removed and the original steps to the house were cleared. The Yellowwood doors and beams, which had been painted cream, were stripped and treated. The wooden floors, which had been laid in the "voorkamer" and the kitchen, were removed and replaced with brick tiles.

The built-in cupboards in the kitchen were removed, as was the pantry. The staircase to the loft, which was situated in the kitchen, was taken out and a Yellowwood staircase, giving access to the loft, was erected in the passage. The open hearth with its Dutch oven was rebuilt.

Close to the house is the cottage, which General Cuyler built for his son. At the turn of the century this cottage was used as the foreman's residence. It was later converted to garages, but has been restored to its original form.

The slave quarters stood at the back of the house next to the stables and wagon house.

Opposite the house stands the mill, built of hand trimmed stone, covered with plaster. The floors and staircases are of Yellowwood. The millstones are found in the ground floor and the Stinkwood waterwheel, which drives the mechanism, is outside under a covering roof. The mill is in working order.

(Submitted by Gerald Humphrey, January 2021)

See also:
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.
South African History Online.

It was declared a National Monument under the old NM Council legislation on 14 March 1980, and is now a Provincial Heritage Site.

Writings about this entry

Fransen, Hans. 1978. Guide to the Museums of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales (Pty) Ltd, for the Southern African Museums Association. pg 103-104