Cowies Hill mansion on the market
An historical home on the outskirts of Durban offers everything the discerning homeowner could ever need. Lea Jacobs takes a look inside
ONCE the site of the Buffelskop farm owned by William Cowie, Cowies Hill in Pinetown, near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, remains one of the area’s most beautiful suburbs. Quiet tree-lined streets are the order of the day and while lower lying areas in the city are often at the mercy of high humidity levels, Cowies Hill’s elevated position and the fact that it is slightly more inland offers a somewhat cooler climate.
Lightstone statistics report that 92.67% of homes in the area fall under the freehold banner and that the majority of owners have lived in the suburb for more than 10 years. This fact is reflected in the sales statistics which record that while sales have remained pretty consistent since 2005, the numbers are on the low side. On average 15 properties have been sold per year since then and 13 homes have changed hands so far this year.
Perhaps better known (or cursed) by those running the Comrades Marathon, this elite, sought after suburb features one of the last five murderous hills in the down race.
“Cowies Hill is close to Durban and is well positioned within a network of highways such as the M13, M19 and N3, making the city centre as well as major nodes to both the north and south easily accessible,” says Lee Ellis, the inland director of Tyson Properties.
“It enjoys a more temperate climate than central Durban with a unique country ambiance, thanks to the adjoining Palmiet Nature Reserve.”
One of the area’s more famous properties has recently come onto the market. Rockhaven, a beautiful example of Cape Dutch architecture, was built by Alfred Cyril Braby in 1921. The original founder of Braby’s directories and a leading figure in the province’s publishing and media industry, Braby moved from the Berea in order to enjoy the healthy climate and lush green surrounds of Cowies Hill.
Ideal for an exclusive bed and breakfast establishment, boutique hotel, foreign consulate/embassy or just as the stately home it has been for nearly a century, Rockhaven is surrounded by 4,500m² of flat landscaped gardens and comprises the main homestead plus two separate dwellings.
Rockhaven architectural features include teak sash windows, wood carved architraves, yellowwood beams, teak doors, and quarry-type tiles that run the entire length of the house.
The main double storey home features a wooden panelled entrance hall around which a number of reception rooms are arranged.
“These elegant rooms have high ceilings and soaring windows which heighten the feeling of space. They have original yellowwood beams, are decorated with feature cornicing and have either exquisite brass light fittings or chandeliers,” says Ellis.
There is a formal entertainment-size dining room which is ideal for gracious entertaining as well as a separate breakfast room which leads off the kitchen. The kitchen has a wide range of fitted appliances and granite worktops, a pantry and scullery and ample storage space.
Also on the ground floor is a large formal sitting room, enhanced by a majestic mantelpiece and fireplace. This leads into a charming informal living room with an impressive open fireplace and double wooden doors that lead into the garden. A stately billiard room with a full size table is also located in this area. It is flanked by a wood panelled reception room which is currently being used as a study. A utility room and a cloakroom complete the downstairs layout.
A sweeping wooden staircase leads from the entrance hall to the first floor. Here, there is a large master bedroom suite with a dressing room lined with fitted wardrobes and shelving and abathroom with bath, shower, double basin, bidet, and toilet.
A second en-suite bedroom with a balcony is located on the opposite side of the first floor. Two more bedrooms with a communal full bathroom occupy the remainder of the upstairs space.
Two separate self-contained dwellings are located on either side of the main house — one is a one-bedroom “designer pad”, with modern, fitted kitchen, entrance hall, dining room and lounge. The other has a similar room configuration with an extra bedroom, study and sauna.
“These two dwellings could easily be rented out to tenants, bringing in extra income. Alternatively, the units could be utilised as offices, enabling an owner to work from home,” says Ellis.
Additional features unique to Rockhaven include a stone wine cellar and a borehole. The entire property is walled and has a state of the art security system.
There are garages for at least six motor vehicles and plenty of parking for visitors.
Rockhaven’s magnificent garden also sets the property apart. Braby’s wife, Maud, took five years to create the extensive gardens and employed 13 gardeners to take care of the property, orchid houses, ornamental ponds and vegetable garden. Today, the wellmanicured landscaped garden boasts many established trees and shrubs, original period fountains, a heated swimming pool, jacuzzi, large wood and glass atrium and a sunken garden with a sundial.
Due to the size of the property and its location in the lush vegetation that naturally grows in Cowies Hill, a wide variety of wildlife and birds are often seen in the grounds.
Ellis says that the property not only encapsulates historical beauty but also links in with modern day conveniences such as good shopping, medical and educational facilities.
“The best way to measure the quality of life in an area is by how long people stay,” Ellis explains. “In Cowies Hill, where most properties are freehold and new residential developments are few and far between, people buy to stay.”
Price: R11.95m Contact: Tyson Properties Sharon Cockerell Brown 082 466 5069 Office 031 266 2544