Story of the farm

Story of the farm
The ownership of the farm was traced in the Deeds Office, Cape Town, from the original grant in 1693 right up to the present day. With the list of owners, more information on the probable building date and ground plan of the house was indirectly gleaned from the wills, death notices, various estate papers like inventories, distribution accounts and auctions, as well as some insolvent estates. Maps and diagrams were consulted at the Surveyor General’s Office, but the bulk of the work was done at the Cape Archives Depot.

Several important points emerged. Firstly, two obvious jumps in the selling price of the farm, which is usually a good indication of improvements including buildings, occurred in 1742 and 1785. The latter also coincided with the tenancy of some 35 years by the Bosman family, another good reason to assume the existence of a dwelling. After 1825 however, with subdivision of the farm into unequal portions as well as changes in currency, comparisons should be made with great discretion.

What was there since 1693? Looking at the history of individual owners, some other interesting facts are revealed. Willem van Wijk had occupied the farm since 1689, although the grant was only formally made in 1693. The inventory made when his wife died in 1695 implies that there must have been a very humble, possibly only a one or two roomed house. His second wife married Jurriaen Kerver after his death circa 1705. The very low price attained when Kerver sold to Villiers in 1714, confirms the picture of a very small dwelling. This Pieter Villiers also owned La Brie et Picardie, just on the other side of the mountain, and as he lived on La Brie, he probably only used Zandwijk for grazing. Whatever building had been there must have fallen into such a state of disrepair as to be totally negligible, because the widow Villiers’ inventory made in 1735, refers to Zandwijk as being “zonde timmeragie”.

Jan Villiers having inherited three other farms as well sold Zandwijk immediately. His successor in title, Guillaumet must have built something, for he hadn’t added any vineyards to justify this trebling in price. The real founders of Zandwijk, as a homestead and wine farm however, were the Bosmans. Jacobus Bosman came to the farm as a young man, owning only a horse and two male slaves, but at his death in 1782 he left his wife and five daughters a well developed farm. A meticulous inventory made of the possessions at his widow’s death in 1785, throws light on the size and shape of the house at that stage. It had a ‘voorhuys, groote kamer, klyne voorkamer, galdery, agetr kamer and kombys’. This number of rooms could fit an H-shaped house. The ‘voorhuys’ was furnished mainly with white tables, chairs and some paintings. The ‘groote kamer’ contained part from chairs and two ‘groote spiegels’, a bed and a ‘ledikant met behangsels’. It is not completely clear whether the room was exclusively used as a bedroom – apparently the old people were also given to ‘kuiering’ in a bedroom. The ‘klyne voorkamer’ however, was undoubtedly used as a bedroom, for it housed no less than four beds and ‘ledikanter’. The ‘galdery’ had two bid table, twelve chairs, a ‘staande horlogie’ and the tea things and porcelain. As there is no mention of any loose cupboards, it could point to the existence of a wall-cupboard. The ‘agter kamer’ had another three beds and served as a bedroom. The ‘kombuys’ contained the tables, shelves, etc. that one would expect in a kitchen. Outside a well-equipped cellar, complete with ‘brandewynsketel’ and other winemaking equipment, a ‘wagenhuys’ for the horse-cart, ox-wagon and plough, a ‘winkel’’ which was obviously some kind of workshop, because it contained two saddlemaker’s tables and some tools. There were sixteen slaves as well. The house was thatched, because there was some ‘dekstrooij’ on the ‘werf’, and most likely looked very much like a typical farm house of the mid-eighteenth century, with a fairly unpretentious gable, casement windows and wooden ceilings. In fact, the last owner remembered some bricked-up casements discovered during repairs. 

The farm was then sold at an auction to Jacob de Villiers, who started the occupancy of another family for some thirty-odd years. He went bankrupt in 1792, but a relative bought the farm, and unfortunately the details nor the contents of the house are mentioned separately. The buyer, Pieter Daniel de Villiers, passed the farm to his son Abraham Johannes. Yet another inventory made at the death of his widow in 1831 lists all the furniture, but not in which rooms it was found. Judging from the number of beds, chairs and tables, the house does not appear to have been any bigger. The two children, who inherited the farm, waited for the quitrent grant of just over 310 morgen to be registered and then sold their separate halves.

From 1825 to 1857 the portion of Zandwijk with the house and outbuilding passed through the hands of three new owners, and the present façade of the house with the fine double sliding sash windows could date from the occupancy of any one of these three. It could even be attributed to H.L Bosman, who was a distant relative of the first Bosmans, was also a trader, in addition to being a winegrower. The situation was probably the cause of his two insolvencies. The inventory of movables listed were found in a front room, hall, two bedrooms, dining room and adjoining bedrooms, a fourth bedroom, kitchen and pantry. Outside was a wine store. Excluding the pantry, it had two more rooms in 1863 than in 1785. Exactly how and where these additions took place, will have to be ascertained during restoration.

With the reference to maps and diagrams, a survey done in 1824 shows an H-shaped house in the position of the present one. Another done in 1921 shows a T-shaped building and another U-shaped one to the east. The undoubted enlargement of the house of 1863 contradicts these diagrams. It is possible that the surveyors simply indicated the approximate position of the farm building(s) without being too accurate about the groundplan.

In conclusion it can be said that the present house was built between 1750 and 1782, most likely not too soon after 1750. It could have had its façade changed at any time during the first half of the nineteenth century, but exactly when is impossible to say. It could justifiably be restored to a ‘pure’ Cape Dutch homestead, with thatched room, casement windows etc. The gable could possibly be drawn from examples in the area, from the same period, e.g. Landskroon. The Bosman ancestral home, of which a photograph exists, might also provide suggestions.


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