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Zorgvliet, Sir George Grey Street, Gardens, Cape Town

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Post date: 07/08/2012
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History: Zorgvliet is one of the oldest properties in the Cape and dates, according Dr. Mary Cook, back to 1669, when a small freehold grant of’ 2 morgan was made to Matthuys Coeymans. In 1774 it was in the possession of Hendrik Oostewald Eksteen and it was named Zorgvliet by him after the Eksteen farm at Rondebosch. In 1791 Frederick Hurling purchased the property and he provided the pump on one corner of the property.
The house itself is a U-shaped Cape Dutch homestead with a slightly later outbuilding at one side. A diagrammatic representation of the Cape in 1804 show Zorgvliet as an apparently flat roofed house but, in 1814, a painting by John Comfield shows the house with simple centre gable of the curvilinear type and a high thatched roof with simple triangular end gables. There is also a flat roofed two bay building at the side of the house and is possibly a later addition. This section is now the dining room and has lost its small sunshade— type veranda present in the Comfield painting.
The front of the house is shown by Comfield to have a pergola across the whole length and the usual high stoep. The windows are half sashes 3 panes down by 4 across.
The house altered over the years and at one stage was called Coblenz Villa for - about 100 years. In this period it was Victorianized as a photograph from the 1870’s by the photographer Ashley shows. The front pergola has now become a wide colonial front stoep with rather pleasant wrought iron pillars holding the corrugated iron verandah. The roof is now also of corrugated iron with large boarding along the edges of what is now a simple triangular clipped gables.
It would appear as though the house achieved its present form in the Victorian period and it still today looks much as it did in Ashley’s photographs. The grounds have unfortunately been eroded by sale for development and there remains only a small piece of land at the front and rear.
Zorgvliet’s great period appears to be its Victorian period, when it was converted probably by Kohler, from a rather pleasant but simple Cape house to a grand Victorian gentleman’s residence. The conversion was so thorough that it would be unthinkable to return the property to its Cape Dutch form.
Visual Description: The Victorianisation dates from the 1850’s when tall shuttered Victorian casements replaced the half sashes. Other woodwork was also altered in the interests of’ prestigious living and the doorways in the front facade were replaced with wide neo-gothic doors, rather like the front door of the home of the Pre-Raphaelite craft movement, Strawberry Hill. The interior altered as well and fine fireplaces were brought in. Thus in the drawing room a grey- white marble surround supports an original large mirror with spearheads covered in intertwined flowers. Below this is one of the elegant cast iron grates, the half moon surround rising to a Gothic print and consisting of intertwined convulvus flowers and leans through which the flames shine. The grate itself has 3 open ;like p2ongs to keep logs in place and the floor tiles are in pale mauves and green browns. In the present dining room there is a slightly more simple mantel in dark grey marble with the grate also being a little less ornate. The fireplaces really are of excellent quality and one does not see them often in Cape homes of’ this period. The old kitchen at Zorgvliet, now part of a modern flat also of interest as it has a working Victorian range one corner.
The great doors dividing the drawing room from the later flat roof section or ballroom are also worth mentioning because o’ their fine quality. All the doors and ceilings from this period have octagonal mouldings and are gilded. Several light fittings remain intact. These are pear-drop crystal of fine quality. It is alleged that the house was the home of Sir George Grey during the period of’ its Victorianisation. Although this fact is unproven.
quality finished points to its being the residence of o of’ pretensions or importance.
Today the Cape Dutch house is still intact. The loft remains with brick brandsolder, sandboxes, beams, etc although the thatch was replaced with slates in the last century. One well of the drawing room contains the original hand painted clades of roses and an architectural motif. At the rear of the house are yellowwood floors and quite unusual 6 panel doors and screen. In addition there are yellowwood and teak windowsills, lintels and interior shutters. The existing farm kitchen is beamed and has a huge beam across the fireplace. Other features include a Batavian brick steps to the 8toep, and cobbles at the rear of the house. The cottage at the rear has a small— paned casement window. This building is flat roofed end has a straight parapet. adjoining the house at right angles.
Zorgvliet is one of the oldest, most altered most interesting of the Cape Dutch farmhouses still existent.
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Construction Date: Alts1854c
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Bibliography archive: Viney, Graham 'Colonial Houses of South Africa' p 115;;Radford 1979:
 
 

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