Groot Constantia Manor House

Groot Constancia is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa’s Western Cape.  It was established in 1685.  The Manor House in is the late Dutch Renaissance style, with a front room (or voorhuis) paved with white marble and red stone.  The house was destroyed by fire in 1925, and restored under the architect F. K. Kendall.  In 1994, restoration of the architectural nucleus of the farm was completed by Revel Fox and Partners (Matthijs P. S. van der Merwe, 1997).

The house was adapted under the ownership of the Cloetes family.  The casement windows were replaced with sash windows, double the height.  The roof was replaced with a pitched thatch roof, and the front gable and two end gables were added.

The gable style was known by various names, including “slendergables” developed from 17th century classicism and 18th century neo classicism.  There are coronas or pediments in the shape of half circles, framed by volutes.  The front gable is a variation of the end gables, with a central projection stretching vertically from ground to top.  A triangular pediment above the door, fluted pilasters on the sides, and festoons above complete the gable.  The niche on the front gable holds a figure that symbolizes “abundance” and is attributed to the German sculptor Anton Anreith (van der Merwe, 1997).

The cellar building is the work of French architect Louis Micel Thibault, in the neo classical style.  The pediment gable is by Anton Anreith, in a rococo style.  It is lime plaster, attached to the building with wrought iron nails, and dates to 1791.  You can read more extensive details about the history of this wine farm, and the buidlings, in van der Merwe’s compilation.

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