Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dutch Settlers and their Architecture in South Africa

Dutch settlers were the first of the European trading powers to set up permanent settlements in South Africa. In 1652 the powerful Dutch East India Company built a fort and established a supply station under the command of Jan Van Riebeeck on a site that later became Cape Town.
The Stellenbosch wine area is situated in the fertile valleys lying below the Drakensberg mountain range. This Western Cape area is just 31 miles from Cape Town, it is where many Dutch Settlers moved, cleared the land, and established farms. Vineyards began being planted when French Huguenots fleeing persecution in France during 1687 to parts of Europe were invited to South Africa by Dutch Settlers in 1688. They brought with them the skills of wine making from France which they shared with their Dutch hosts. 
An avenue of Eucalyptus saligna at a vineyard visited 
The arrival of Huguenots in Britain is of personal interest to me because it is understood in our family that my maternal grandmother was descended from them - her surname was Jacques
For much of the 20th century the South African wine industry received minimal international attention. Its isolation was exacerbated by the boycotts of South African products in protest against the country's system of Apartheid. It was not until the late 1980s and 1990s when Apartheid was ended, and the world's export market opened up, that South African wines began to experience a renaissance. 
It is in the heart of these winelands that the development of Cape Dutch architecture can be seen
The 'Wolf's nose' gables were the first front gables to be designed. They were built as a functional 'eyebrow' over a dormer window providing light for the loft above the front door. From this humble gable, based on the medieval architecture of the Netherlands, the style of Cape Dutch gables grew into one of the most recognisable 'settler' architectures in the world. 
By the mid-1750s, the gables at the Cape had reached their full height, a reflection of the prosperity at the time. From then on, gables would be defined by whether the edge was concave or convex in shape.
The Holbol Gable was a natural progression from the earlier bolbol gable as the fashion of the day moved towards the baroque. Its defining feature was a mix of convex and concave edges. 
The Neoclassical Gable was the last of the Cape Dutch gable styles before the Second British Occupation of the Cape in 1806. The style could be defined as singularly elegant, restrained and dignified. The pediment could be triangular, rounded or even sculpted.

31 comments:

  1. Interesting history of a not so nice past of the Dutch...

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    1. We cannot change history - Britain too shares a similar past.

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  2. Yes of course I also know most of the Dutch history in South Africa, but this time I go for the avenue of Eucalyptus, so beautiful!

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    1. I loved that avenue of Eucalyptus Janneke.

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  3. How interesting to know about the evolution of the gables. Your photos from South Africa are breathtaking and I would like to see more from your colonial style residence.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you again Olympia - South Africa was filled with images which were completely new to us.

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    1. My gables reminded me of your settlers domes.

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  5. I too found the evolution of the Dutch gables very interesting.
    I was interested to hear of the Huguenot influence in SA and your French grandmother.
    The oldest street in America is in New Paltz, New York. My old stomping grounds. http://www.huguenotstreet.org/ I spent all my summers at https://www.mohonk.com/?nck=gbetri&gclid=CJXyqYPM2dYCFRNXDQodddcGlQ This is a place I know you would love.
    I still have a old friend who lives on Huguenot St.
    I hope you will visit both links. ;-)

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    1. Thank you very much Catherine - I will definitely check out the links you kindly left. Having already researched his father's family background, I am hoping that my eldest son will do mine. We understand that my grandmother's ancestors set up a silk industry.

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    2. How interesting to discover your ancestors involvement in the silk industry. Maybe one day after you son does the research, we can look forward to a post about his findings. :-)

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    3. I hope that he takes up the cause as I would really like to know more.

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  6. Thanks for the line drawings, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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  7. This was an interesting and educational post. I was intrigued to read about the French Huguenots helping to develop the wine industry in S.A. So many factors combine to make our world the fascinating place it is today. The architectural drawings are wonderful for demonstrating the evolution of the Dutch gables.

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    1. The Huguenots appear to have made a big impact wherever they settled - perhaps, in fact, they were a big loss to France when they fled persecution because of being Protestant.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, All the shapes of Dutch gables makes for an interesting variety. We have old Dutch buildings in the U.S. also (especially in New York), as well as many revival variations. Also, the Dutch were active in Taiwan for a long time, but there are very few architectural reminders of their sway here.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I have always admired the Dutch style of architecture especially their gables. We also have many in our country too brought to us by the architectural influences of King William of Orange.

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  9. Never really thought much about that style progression... until now.

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  10. Dearest Rosemary,
    Yes, Stellenbosch is a lovely town with lots of old Dutch gables and also the very typical Dutch half door.
    Forgot to mention in the previous post that the Erythrina is the official city tree of Los Angeles, California where it is referred as the coral tree.
    History with all its good and bad, always has brought people together and thus creating beautiful things. In this case the Huguenots did establish some great vineyards.
    Quite interesting to know about your maternal Grandmother!
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I knew of course that the Hugenots fled to Europe but I had not realised before our visit that so many of them were then invited by the Dutch Settlers to go and live in South Africa - it proved to be, as you mentioned, a good and successful alliance.

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  11. I was interested to learn of the Dutch settlers' relationship with the French Huguenots. The outcome for those fleeing persecution and for the hosts as they shared wine growing knowledge was a positive one. I've also learned more about Dutch architecture, which I think is beautiful, but I've never thought about the different types of gable.

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    1. I knew nothing previously about the Huguenots settling in South Africa before we left, but I had previously wondered about where the Dutch settlers had acquired their wine making skills and expertise from.

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  12. I found this fascinating as we frequently come across Dutch architecture along the British coast. Sarah x

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    1. Many of our stately homes also have Dutch architecture influenced by William of Orange.

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  13. As fotos estão maravilhosas! Gostei de apreciar, pouco conheço sobre a África do Sul.

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    1. Estou satisfeito por ter gostado de ver as fotos da África do Sul - obrigado por me informar

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