Sub­urb with a coun­try charm

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IT WAS Jan van Riebeeck who first brought vines to the Cape, and it was he and chief gar­dener Hen­drik Boom, who pro­duced the first wine in the Com­pany Gar­dens, which still pro­vide an ur­ban haven in the cen­tre of present day Cape Town.

Ac­cord­ing to www.klein­con­stan­, Con­stan­tia owes its po­si­tion as a world fa­mous wine­pro­duc­ing area to two men — Gov­er­nor Si­mon van der Stel, who chose the val­ley for his own farm in 1685, and Hen­drik Cloete, who bought the homestead on a sec­tion of the orig­i­nal farm in 1778. By revitalising and de­vel­op­ing the es­tate, he brought in­ter­na­tional fame to Con­stan­tia wines.

Van der Stel was the first to recog­nise the po­ten­tial of the Cape as more than just a half-way sta­tion to the east. What he de­sired most was a farm of his own, and when per­mis­sion was granted in 1685, he im­me­di­ately ven­tured off to un­cover the most favourable area. Men were put to work, dig­ging up bas­kets of soil along the length of the south­ern slopes from Ta­ble Bay through to Muizen­berg, with each sam­ple sent to the Cas­tle for test­ing. Even­tu­ally sat­is­fied that the de­com­posed gran­ite soil from the shel­tered val­ley fac­ing False Bay, bound by the sea on both sides, was the most favourable of all, he claimed it and called it Con­stan­tia.

It is thought that Van der Stel prob­a­bly named Con­stan­tia af­ter Con­stan­tia van Goens, grand­daugh­ter of the Dutch East In­dia of­fi­cial who had agreed to grant him the farm, which mea­sured 891 mor­gen — al­most the en­tire val­ley. He built a fine house sur­rounded by gar­dens and or­chards, and by 1709 at least 70 000 vines had been es­tab­lished, many of which were im­ported from Ger­many.

Cape Town’s pres­ti­gious South­ern Sub­urbs boast some of the coun­try’s most stately grand es­tates, say Se­eff agents Shel­ley Kruger and Lana Red­man. Ex­am­ples of these can be found around Con­stan­tia Main Road such as Huis ten Bosch, which Se­eff is cur­rently mar­ket­ing, which is one of the homes of the his­tor­i­cal Cloete fam­ily that dates back to 1850 when the land was bought.

These Con­stan­tia res­i­dences are sit­u­ated on large stands with moun­tain views and out­build­ings, swim­ming pools, mul­ti­ple garag­ing and grand liv­ing spa­ces are stan­dard fea­tures of these prop­er­ties. While many have been mod­ernised, those that have re­tained el­e­ments of Cape Dutch ar­chi­tec­ture are par­tic­u­larly ap­peal- ing to both lo­cal and for­eign buy­ers, say the agents. The sub­urb’s coun­try charm is yet an­other draw card for these prop­er­ties.

Con­stan­tia is a ma­ture sub­urb, and home own­ers tend to hang onto their prop­er­ties for many years. Light­stone, a prop­erty data and sta­tis­tics provider, ranks it as one of the coun­try’s most exclusive and ex­pen­sive sub­urbs, with av­er­age house prices rang­ing be­tween R4m and R9m. More char­ac­ter­is­tic though, ac­cord­ing to the agents, are the stately man­sions such as the Huis ten Bosch which are priced in the up­per mil­lions.

The res­i­dence is sit­u­ated on land bought in 1850 as part of the big­ger Alphen es­tate by the Cloete fam­ily who built it as a home for their mother. The prop­erty was sold into pub­lic hands about 30 years ago. To­day, it is a grand res­i­dence set on a stand of 4 687m². Ac­cess is via a pan han­dle drive­way from Brom­mersvlei Road although the orig­i­nal en­trance pil­lars of the prop­erty are still vis­i­ble in Con­stan­tia Main Road.

The ar­chi­tec­ture of Huis ten Bosch is part of a far reach­ing re­nais­sance of the his­toric Alphen es­tate. “While el­e­ments of the orig­i­nal home re­main, it is mod­ernised with taratso and wooden floors, traver­tine bath­rooms and a modern kitchen with Gagge­nau ap­pli­ances,” they add. A char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­ture is the large un­der­cover pa­tio with im­pos­ing white pil­lars in the ex­pan­sive gar­den with a swim­ming pool against the back­drop of the moun­tain. Tall sash win­dows and French doors, high ceil­ings and plas­ter mould­ings are some of the Old Cape ar­chi­tec­tural in­flu­ences ev­i­dent through­out.

The spa­cious home fea­tures three bed­rooms and bath­rooms as well as a sep­a­rate dou­ble-storey cot­tage with an additional two bed­rooms with en-suite bath­rooms, kitchen and lounge. The prop­erty also fea­tures three garages, additional park­ing, staff quar­ters, a laun­dry room, a bore­hole and ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem and state-of-the-art se­cu­rity. The cur­rent own­ers utilise some of the liv­ing ar­eas as an art gallery and li­brary of­fice. Price: R17,5m Con­tact: Se­eff Prop­er­ties Shel­ley Kruger 083 700 9001 Lana Red­man 082 396 6822

RARE OP­POR­TU­NITY: This prop­erty in Con­stan­tia is on sale for R17,5m . Home own­ers in this sub­urb tend to hang onto their prop­er­ties for many years.

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