Dwarsrivier Valley Tourism

Heritage Attractions

Middle Street

With inseption of the mission station, certain lans was allocated to former slaves to build their own houses within a two year period. The street named Middle street was the centre where these houses were build either side of the road. The first houses were build in this street. This was also the main road through Pniel. Although the initial building style of these houses have changed, some of the houses still show signs of older building material, such as ceilings made from solid trees and hand sawn wooden planks. This is the oldest street in Pniel.

Pniel Graveyard

The graveyard where only Pniel inhabitants were buried since 1843. The graveyard is still working and people are still being buried there.

Pniel Congregational Church

In 1843 one of the directors of the Goodhope Farm gave a piece of the farm to build a school and church. Slaves from that time build the church and Rev J.F. Stegmann was appointed as the leader of the congregation. He started at the age of 19 and ministered the people of Pniel for 65 years. The mission station was called “Pniel” meaning “the face of God”.

“Die Werf”

It is situated opposite the church in Pniel and next to the current manse of the church. All the monuments are on this piece of land. Today some people call it the “monument park”.

Church Bell

The Church Bell tower was erected in 1983 and funded by the womans lodge, and was dedicated in memory of Reverant Johan Frederick Stegman. The bell tower situated next to the Church in Pniel, is dedicated to Alfred Appleyard who was responsible for erecting the bell tower at Goede Hoop farm. In 1938 it was moved to the new bell tower. This bell was also used as a school bell, warning community in case of fires and other communial gatherings. In the late 1970’s, a commemorative bell tower was built by Rhodes Fruit Farm and the cracked bell was hung on to it. On heritage day, 24 September 2006, the bell was returned by Rhodes Fruit Farm and Boschendal Ltd and a ceremony was held on the Werf.

Freedom Monument

The first freedom monument was erected in 1994 on “the Werf”. It was designed by the famous artist from Stellenbosch, Leon di Blique. The birds symbolizes freedom of commitment; the fountain (water) symbolizes the place where we as a community can go drink water and live; the flame (freedom flame) symbolizes hope and love.

Ubuntu Monument

Tha National Heritage Council (NHC) of South Africa honoured old president Nelson Mandela with the Ubuntu Award in 2006 as the first recipient. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda (also known as “KK”) , former president of Zambia received the Ubuntu Award of 2007 at Boschendal on 19 October 2007. A special rock from the quarries of Robben Island and also from a nearby mountain “Hottentots Holland”. These two rocks symbolizes the freedom and reconciliatin of slaves who suffered in the Drakenstein Valley and the prisoners who were on Robben Island.

Silver Mine

In 1743 a silver mine was started by some prominent figures within the VOC. A certain man named Frans Diederick Muller claimed that he had discovered silwer in the Simonsberg area. Under the leadership of Muller, the VOC granted a charter to association of citizens, soldiers and slaves led by a local dignitary, Olof de Weth. The newly formed association was called the Octroojeerde Society der Mynwerken aan de Simonsberg. On board the directorship were some local burgers and prominent VOC officials Hendrik Swellengrebel, Rijk Tulbagh, Olof de Weth, Jan Louwrens Bestbier, Jacob Cloete and Jan Phillip Giebbelaar with Nicolaus van Dessin as treasurer and Johannes Louw Pieters as deputy cashier. Besides other workers, in the late 1746 a total of 18 slaves and 2 masons,2 carpenters along with 6 more laborers also arrived to work on the mines. Ironically there were never any silwer found on Simonberg although Muller had claimed that he had also found some gold deposits and other minerals. This minding operation was however a big hoax and the investors had lost a lot of money through this investment. Today the remains of this mining operations lies untouched on the slopes of the magnificent Simonsberg.

Spanish Influenza – Mass Grave

Late 1918 we got hit by two waves of Spanish flu that appeared in South Africa. The Dwarsriver Valley was also sadly hit by the disaster. In September the flu spread through the Cape. Within months, 20 million people died horribly of this flu. People in the Dwarsriver Valley area lived under poor condition, and had little access to medical facilities. Pniel was situated far from the hospitals in Stellenbosch and Paarl. The old school building was used as a clinic to assist all sick people in the valley.

Old Cyster House and Graveyard

In 1885 Carel Cyster purchased a piece of land from Mr. JJ Haupth. He and his family lived there for almost 80 years. He started a nursery there. They also had a family graveyard there where Mr. Cyster and his family were buried.

Sir Herbert Baker Cottages

Herbert Baker was born in 1862 in Cobham, Kent. He studied architecture in London. He came to the Cape in 1892 and decided to start an architectural practice in SOuth Africa. Cecil John Rhodes desired a model estate in Groot Drakenstein to house workers. Herbert Baker designed a workers village. The farm Lanquedoc, next to Boschendal was selected as the ideal site for the village. Baker designed a number of houses for workers and was Cape Dutch style on each side of a tree-lined avenue. Each house came with one morgen of land, two horses, two cows and a pig. The tiles and bricks came from the “tile and brick” works that Rhodes had initiated in the valley at the “Kleigat” in Pniel. The project cost 27.000 pounds and it included a shop, an Anglican church and a school.

St. Giles Church

The church was also designed by Herbert Baker. The church, named St. Giles, has a connection with the recently resorted Leper Church on Robben Island. The Leper Church, built in 1841 when lepers lived, was later closed up. The pews were removed and transported to St. Giles at Lanquedoc. Over the last few decades they have rotted and new pews had to be bought to replace those with the unusual history. In order to encourage sobriety and ‘good’ Christian living the church became the centre of the community and a set of ‘rules’ was drawn up. This included the prohibition of alcohol and strict social practices.

Wells in Kylemore

A well known feature of Kylemore is the diverse number of wells build as a means of collecting water for domestic use. Some of these wells are today still in use.

Old Apostolic Church (Kylemore)

Kylemore was established in 1898. A fellowship of 49 men, who called themselves the “Garden Company”, purchased the land from Mr. Arthur Latimer Harrington Kyle. They purchased it for the sum of $3000. These men were slaves. These men and their children lived on the mission station, Pniel. As Pniel mission station was served by the Apostolic Union, it is assumed that these former members of the Pniel Congregational Church who settled at Kylemore, established their own sister church at Kylemore. Today this church is the oldest church in Kylemore and is known as the Old Apostolic Church.

Losie Saal

The Kylemore Losie saal used to be a gathering place for the community where children were schooled, movies were watched and various meetings were held. Today it has been turned into a crèche.


After the Second World War, these buildings were used to house ex-Italian prisoners of war.


Many of the emancipated slaves that eventually settled on the newly established mission station founded on the section of the farm De Goede Hoop came from the surrounding farms especially the farms Delta and Lekkerwijn. While many other places of interest to the public give general histories, what makes this museum unique is the real voices of individual people, through which the farm’s story is told. Both the historical and the archaeological traces of the people who lived on the farm are part of the displays and these elements embody the major themes of the Museum. The story is told in the museum both chronologically and thematically, starting from the very beginnings of human settlement on the farm, through pre-colonial pastoral usage of the land, the establishment of private ownership through colonial viticulture, the scars left by slavery and apartheid.

Boschendal Manor House

Boschendal means “wood and dale”. This farm was granted to Huguenot, Jean Le Long in 1685. A fellow Huguenot, Abraham de Villiers bought it in 1715. Evidence showing that Jean de Villiers built a house in about 1746, a wall cupboard in one of the bedrooms might be from the earlier house. The Manor House was rebuilt by Paul de Villiers. Initials of Paul and his wife appear to be on the front gable with the 1812 stated on it.

Boschendal is one of the most impressive farmhouses in the Cape with its typical H-shaped house with an old pomegranate tree in the backyard. During the restoration in 1973 painted friezes were discovered and scrapings have exposed details of more layers. With the re-opening of the Manor House in 1976 the house was furnished according to old inventories.

Rhodes Cottage

In 1724 the De Villiers family bought the farm from the Basson family. In 1897 the farm was bought for Rhodes. The house was in a poor state and needed to be repair. They demolished the house and Rhodes Cottage was build nearby. It was a Baker designed house. The cottage contains interesting furniture and Rhodes memorabilia.

The cottage guestbook is a record of the who’s who of the 20th century in political business personalities. The first person that made an entry in the book was in 1925 by Sir Alfred Milner, former Governor of the Cape Colony and British High Commissioner for Southern Africa at the outbreak of the South African War. Many people visited this cottage.

The people responsible for the warm hospitality and good food were Martha Cyster and Mary Davids, both from Pniel. David Crean, son of the syndicate director, Edward Crean, called Martha’s chicken pies, cakes and tarts as the best ever. Mary Davids received a Fifty Years of Service award in 1972 from Rhodes Fruit Farm.

In the early 1990’s the cottage was revamped and new curtains and covers was given to the sitting-ann bedroom. The cottage is soon to be the guesthouse and clubhouse for the Founders Estate owners and their guests.

Bethlehem Farm

The farm was granted to Pierre Simond, the Minister who accompanied the French Huguenots refugees to the Cape in 1688. The current house was built in the mid-19th century. Mr. Simond was the leader of the Huguenots and was Minister in the employ of the Dutch East India Company. The Company built the large house for him on the farm Bethlehem.

Mr. Simond left and the farm passed through many hands and was later bought by Rhodes Fruit Farm in 1958 is it’s now private home. The current home was built by the Haupts in the mid-19th century. A barn and cellar was built on either side of the house. The house is an example of a single-storey T-shape Cape Dutch building. The cellar dated 1840 on the gable. Old Bethlehem was used as a private residence for much of the 20th century. It comtinues to be a family home under new ownership.

1st World War Monument

This monument gives tribute to the men who fought in the 1st World War between 1914-1919. Some men from the valley also fought in the war.

Goodhope Farm

The current home was built by Peter Hendrik de Villiers in 1821, although the farm was granted in 1688. The farm remained in the De Villiers family through the 18th century and much of the 19th century. Goede Hoop was later owned by a Haupt and in 1897 bought by Rhodes Fruit Farms. The homestead and cellar are examples of the 19th century architecture. The home has an H-shape with a rounded gable and half-hipped ends. The cellar gable dated 1837. The building has a T-shaped roof and there are also a servant’s qaurters at the back of the house. There are also a stable complex and a cottage that may have been used as a mill back in the days.

On the farm there’s also a commemorative bell tower. It is dated 1934 and marks the anniversary of the freeing of the slaves. It was erected by Alfred Appleyard, a long serving Managing Director of Rhodes Fruit Farms.

The Dwarsrivier Valley

The Dwarsrivier Valley serves as a triumphant example of the way forward. Here we can experience a unique balance between pure historical Cape Culture and modern day lifestyles of wellness, gourmet foods and fine wines. The valley has what it takes to satisfy the humanitarian, the socialite, the nature lover, the historian, the adventurous spirit and certainly the connoisseur.


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