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House Lewis Reynolds: Lynton Hall
Pennington/Umdoni, KwaZulu-Natal

James Wallace PATON: Design Architect



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30°22'59.60" S 30°40'20.87" E Alt: 124m

Pennington/Umdoni Park (Sezela): (PTW&B:186)

A cross between a verandah house and a Scottish Baronial mansion, Lynton Hall, seen through tall palm trees, presents itself as an architectural folly in the romantic tradition. It was built in 1895 for the sugar baron Charles Partridge Reynolds and presumably designed by JW PATON who was working for STREET-WILSON & FYFE. The magnificent site was chosen not only for the superb views, but because the raised position would catch every breeze to cool the humid air. Late in the 19th century Zulu uprisings were still a threat, and the battlemented tower, complete with gun room, was not a mere whim, but a necessity. The turret above served as a lookout for fires in the surrounding cane fields.

Many of the fine Victorian buildings in South Africa and elsewhere in the colonies were erected miles from the nearest railhead and the problem of transport was considerable. In the instance of Lynton Hall, Reynolds had his building materials brought round the coast to the whaling station at Park Rynie by lighter, which was flat bottomed so as to clear the silt-banks of the then undredged harbour at Durban. The spot where this craft eventually sank has become known as Lighter Bay, and under certain weather conditions the bare bones of the hull can still be seen. Every item had to be hauled from the shore inland to the building site by labourers from the sugar mills. Many materials had been imported from overseas: mass-produced component parts such as doors, windows, fireplaces and sundry other smaller building needs.

Originally the house was darkly painted in ochre and terra-cotta, simulating the stonework of its Scottish counterparts. The interior was sombre and cool in the gothic tradition. The spectacular double-volume entrance hall and marble flooring were dappled by the light filtering through the stained glass of the front door and from windows high above.

Following scandals in the business world during the years before World War I, Charles Reynolds was forced to resign from the directorship of Reynolds Brothers. His elder brother Frank then lived at Lynton Hall, and was responsible for setting out the gardens - a tropical version of a LUTYENS Surrey garden. Later, as a magnanimous gesture, Sir Frank Reynolds built a seaside house intended for the use of the Prime Minister, Louis Botha. Designed in the fashionable Baker-Cape Dutch style, the architects were again PATON & WISHART [?], but Botha died before its completion. Instead, the house was left in trust for the use of artists and writers, Edward Roworth and Roy Campbell being but two who were to work there in peace.

The tranquility of Botha House was made available to the dying King George VI, when in 1951 he was recuperating from operations on his lungs. The seaside house was considered too small for the Royal party, so instead Lynton Hall was to have been used. Whilst preparations for the visit were in progress, unhappily the King died on 6 February 1952, only a short while before he was due to sail for South Africa on board HMS 'Vanguard'.

2012 - this is now a Wedding Venue

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.

Writings about this entry

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 132
Viney, Graham with Proust, Alain (Photography). 1987. Colonial houses of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik-Winchester. pg 185-195