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Cape Town, Western Cape

Revel FOX: Architect restoration

Date:1777 : c1970


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33°55'49.30" S 18°25'14.08" E

Having amassed a considerable fortune through devious dealings and extortion, the disreputable fiscal Willem Cornelis Boers built for himself a fine homestead on land originally granted to a Free Burgher during the 17th century.

When the house was built in 1778, architecture at the Cape was impressive, largely due to the influence of THIBAULT, who had come out from Europe a while previously, bringing with him new concepts of design. There is evidence to show that it was during the period of Johannes Blesser, whose wife had purchased the property in March 1798, just prior to their marriage, that the present façade was added by SCHUTTE, ANREITH and THIBAULT. (Fehr 1965:16) To ANREITH we owe the baroque carvings of the balcony and doorways that enliven the whole facade, which once overlooked the young town and the bay beyond.

Like most of the Cape houses built on the slopes of Table Mountain, the entrance was from the road running up beside the site, and in this instance the gateway has always been on Buitenkant Street. The gates were of intricate ironwork, wrought in Amsterdam and sent out to Boers. They are dated 1778 and bear the name Rust-en-Vreugd within the design. The gates now form the rood screen across the chancel arch of St Michael's and All Angels, Penkridge, Staffordshire, Governor Sir Bartle Frere having presented these gates to his aid-de-camp William Littleton. Littleton had them shipped to England, giving them to his parish church in memory of his forebears lying buried there. (Picton-Seymour, 1989:13)

The beautiful wrought-iron gates were sold in 1878 during the governorship of Sir Bartle Frere, to find a resting place in the chancel of the Parish Church at Penkridge, in Staffordshire, England, where in this strange setting they form a curious link with the Cape.

The words "Rust en Vreugd" and the date 1778 face the congregation, but few will probably have troubled to seek an explanation for the inscription. (Fehr 1965:14)

Restored in the late 1960s -1970 by REVEL FOX. Now one of the Iziko Museums.

[Note - Pearce illustrations are derivatives of scans of the original drawings digitized for the UPSpace collection - see UPSpace Pearse collection].

Writings about this entry

Fairbridge, Dorothea. 1922. Historic houses of South Africa. London: Oxford University Press. pg 107, 138
Fehr, William. 1965. Rust en Vreugd : A Pictorial Narative : 'n Verhaal in Prente. Cape Town: William Fehr Collection. pg 14-18
Fransen, Hans. 1978. Guide to the Museums of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales (Pty) Ltd, for the Southern African Museums Association. pg 31-33
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 92
Hatfield, Denis. 1967. Some South African monuments. Cape Town: Purnell. pg 31-33
Lewcock, Ronald. 1963. Early Nineteenth Century Architecture in South Africa : a study of the interaction of two cultures, 1795-1837. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 101, 112
Luckhoff, Carl August in collaboration with Gohl, Colin and Versveld, Martin. 1951. Table Mountain : our national heritage after three hundred years. Cape Town: AA Balkema . pg 21, 31 (ill)
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 18-19
Pearse, Geoffrey Eastcott. 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa. London: Batsford. pg 26, 41 plates 30-36
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 130-131
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 13
Richardson, Deirdré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 76