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House CJ Erasmus - Bella Vista - Erasmus Castle
Erasmuskloof, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng

JW Leslie SIMMONDS: Architect
F VAN DER BEN: Project Architect
MEIRING VAN DER LECQ THOMAS and RONGA: Restoration Architects 1989



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25°48'55.92" S 28°15'42.86" E Alt: 1533m

Restoration was done by MEIRING VAN DER LECK THOMAS & RONGA.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written to Nicholas CLARKE 2015.06.01:



Die restourasie van die Erasmus Kasteel in 1989 deur my firma A J KONSTRUKSIE (EDMS) BPK het heelwat belangstelling ontvang van akademici, familie en Erasmusnasate. Interessante feite het sodoende aan die lig gekom asook interessante staaltjies (orale geskiedenis).

Kortliks iets oor die ontwerp van die huis. Argitek J. W. Leslie SIMMONDS (M.S.A. ENGo. Architect and Building Surveyor, Pretoria) het 'n professionele verhouding met die Erasmusfamilie gehad waaruit onder andere die ontwerp van die Erasmusgebou (c1890) Kerkplein, Pretoria, voortgevloei het.

Op aandrang van sy vader, Carl Erasmus, het Jochemus Erasmus in 1903 Leslie SIMMONDS genader vir 'n ontwerp van 'n nuwe woning aangesien sy oorspronklike huis gebou in 1890 nie aan sy status as boer, handelaar en entrepreneur voldoen nie. Leslie SIMMONDS het 'n Amerikaanse boek met voorbeelde van huise aan Jochemus gegee sodat hy 'n ontwerp kon kies. Die boek het ek onder oë gehad in die biblioteek van die Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit (RAU) in 1990.

Die Carson Mansion het in Jochemus se smaak maar buite sy begroting geval dus moes afskaling plaasvind.

Die Nederlandse argitek, F VAN DER BEN, wat geweier het om na die Suid-Afrikaanse Oorlog die eed van getrouheid aan die Britse regering af te lê is uit die Staatsdiens ontslaan en is as tekenaar deur Leslie SIMMONDS in diens geneem en het die Carson-ontwerp vereenvoudig.

Die grandiose vooraansig en hoofingang staan in skrille kontras met die agter aansig en die verskraling vind mens ook in die interieur soos die grootte van vloerlyste en argitrawe.

Die huis is in 1904 teen 'n koste van £6 800 voltooi en is Bella Vista gedoop.

Opsommend: Wie is die argitek van die die Erasmuskasteel? Niemand by naam nie, dit ontwerp is 'n sameflansing van Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom, J W Leslie SIMMONDS en F VAN DER BEN.



Erasmus Castle

The restoration of the Erasmus Castle in 1989 by my firm, AJ CONSTRUCTION (PTY) LTD, has received considerable interest from academics, family and Erasmus descendants. Interesting facts thus came to light and interesting stories (oral history).

Briefly, something about the design of the house. Architect JW Leslie SIMMONDS (MSA Engo. Architect and Building Surveyor, Pretoria) had a professional relationship with the Erasmus family which included the design of the Erasmus Building (c1890) Church Square, Pretoria.

At the insistence of his father, Carl Erasmus, Erasmus Jochemus in 1903 approached Leslie SIMMONDS for a design of a new home since his original house built in 1890 did not comply with his status as a farmer, merchant and entrepreneur. Leslie SIMMONDS, showed an American book with examples of houses to Jochemus so that he could choose a design. I saw the book in the library of the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in 1990.

The Carson Mansion was in Jochemus taste but outside his budget which meant that downsizing had to take place.

The Dutch architect, F VAN DER BEN, who refused to sign the oath of allegiance to the British government after the South African War was laid off by the public service and was employed by Leslie SIMMONDS as a draughtsman and simplified the Carson design.

The grandiose facade and main entrance stand in stark contrast with the rear elevation and the attenuation is also evident in the interior such as the size of skirting and epistyles.

The house was built in 1904 at a cost of £6 800 and christened Bella Vista.

In summary: Who is the architect of the Erasmus Castle? None by name, it was designed by a conglomeration of Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom, JW Leslie SIMMONDS and F VAN DER BEN.

(Submitted by Nicholas CLARKE)

2022: Sadly the house has fallen into a state of disrepair. Karlien Thomashoff recently visited. "It is clear that no maintenance has been done for years. The interior is relatively intact, and precious artefacts and archaeological finds are stored inside. Some interior walls are showing signs of leaks and areas where paint is peeling - mainly in the staircase.

"The house is at a point now where normal maintenance would not make a difference. A serious intervention would be necessary to prevent the structure of the verandas from collapsing. The roof of the tower is stripped and is most probably leaking. Scaffolding is currently holding parts of the house and roofs in place (I doubt that the scaffolding was erected for maintenance purposes). The outbuildings are in a relatively good condition (probably because they were relocated), but the graveyard shows signs of vandalism and neglect."

(NM) (Overvaal Musea News Mar 1985 vol 12:15-16 ill)

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

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J & Fisher, Roger C. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pg 136, 199
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 174