M is for Mostert’s Mill, Montagu and Monarch

Can I complete the whole of Round 9 of ABC Wednesday based on our four week stay in South Africa in February? Click on the photos to enlarge.

Mostert's MillMostert’s Mill is one of the landmarks of Cape Town, sitting alongside the busy De Waal Drive and within a few minutes walk from where we were staying.

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 Dutch Reformed ChurchBut moving on, my favourite South African M was the town of Montagu, the last stop on our road trip along the southern tip of Africa.

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.

MontaguIt 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.

Piet JoubertIt 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.

Vintage ToysOne area of interest is the kitchen floor. Timber wasn’t used at the time because of the danger of fire and a coating of dung was generally used instead, freshly applied every fortnight or so.

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!

Monarch ButterflyThe house is also renowned for its garden of indigenous plants used in herbal remedies which is regularly visited by botanists and pharmachologists from around the world.

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!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

10 comments… Add yours
  • rog 12th October 2011

    interesting bit of history; halfway done with South Africa – still on track!

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • photowannabe 12th October 2011

    I think you will make it through the alphabet. Wonderful information and crystal clear photos.

  • Granny Smith 12th October 2011

    Good photographs and a very informative view of South African history.

  • Jennifer 12th October 2011

    The peach stone floor idea is … unique. I love the vintage toys.

  • magiceye 12th October 2011

    That was a wonderful take with history and beautiful pictures!

  • Yorkshire Pudding 12th October 2011

    “Majestic mental meandering made magnificent!” muttered misanthropic Mancunian millionaire Mr Maurice Montagu-Mottram, munificent marble manufacturer.

  • Reader Wil 12th October 2011

    Very interesting! We have relatives in Capetown. One of our cousins has a daughter who was married to a mr. Joubert. May be I’ll visit them next year, for they invited me when they stayed at my house for a couple of days. I shall then remember your post!! Thank you!

  • scriptor senex 12th October 2011

    Thank you for showing us Mostert’s Mill and Montagu and the beautiful Monarch.

  • Anna 13th October 2011

    Thank you for making this places famous. I have never heard about them before. But now I am eager do visit them. Do you think that summer is ok?

  • liz 13th October 2011

    What an unusual walking surface that must be. Better than dung though!


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