The mill was built around 1796 at the Welgelegen Farm, owned by Gysbert van Renen, and was named after his son-in-law, Sybrand Mostert, after Van Renen’s death.
It ceased operation in 1873, but stayed in the Mostert family until 1889 and was finally sold to Cecil Rhodes in 1891.
The mill has become derelict and restored twice in its lifetime, first in 1936 and again in 1995 by the Friends of Mostert’s Mill at a cost of R245,000.
Montagu is a lovely little town. Many of its buildings are a hundred years old or more and have been beautifully cared for, all whitewash, pastel colours, Victorian ironwork and verandahs.
The town was originally founded by Dutch settlers who had crossed the mountains from the west to grow fruit, but they were unable to sell their excess produce because of the settlement’s inaccessibility.
It took Englishman and colonial secretary, John Montagu, to blast a pass through the mountains and build the roads that would open the town to the Cape, with the help of Australian engineer, Henry Fancourt White.
The grateful residents renamed the town in Montagu’s honour in 1851 which came as a great relief to the postman as it had previously been called Agter Cogman’s Kloof.
Today the area has many vineyards noted for Muscatel, the sweet, full rounded wine with rich fruit flavours that is drunk on crushed ice or at room temperature.
The oldest house in the town is the Joubert House which is now preserved as a museum, portraying the typical country lifestyle of the 1850′s.
It was built in 1853 and the family was related to General Piet Joubert, the Boer leader. He and Paul Kruger and 400 others once dined at the house (presumably over many sittings) in 1880 when returning from England after unsuccessfully pleading for the annexation of the Transvaal to be annulled.
The house was badly damaged by floods in 1981 and was set for demolition, but was saved by the Montagu Museum Board of Trustees and lovingly restored. Among its exhibits is a collection of vintage toys, like those shown below as well as the paraphernalia of an earlier age.
In the Joubert House though, another solution was found — peach stones covered with beeswax and it still exists today. Walking on it is not unlike a pleasing foot massage!
We left Montagu to return to our guest house in Cape Town which brings me to my final M, the Monarch Butterfly.
They were regular, colourful visitors to the garden at Carmichael Guest House, not just in ones or twos, but by the dozen!