History & Vision
The history of Erinvale goes back to about 1685, when the Dutch East India Company established an outpost in the area to guard the route between the fledgling Cape settlement and the mountains in the east.
This was wilderness, where lions and leopards prowled, and outlaws lay in wait for unsuspecting travellers. For centuries, the nomadic peoples of the Cape had brought their herds to this fertile valley to graze, for here was ample food and a year-rounds supply of clear, fresh water.
Willem Adriaan van der Stel, the third Governor of the Cape, realised the enormous potential this river valley beneath the slopes of the Hottentots Holland mountains presented for cultivation. Soon after he succeeded his father, Simon van der Stel, as Governor in 1699, he received a grant of 413 morgen, soon extended to some 613 morgen, one of the largest in the Colony. It was here, where the land gently rises from the shores of False Bay to the majestic Hottentots Holland, that Willem built his imposing estate. He named it Vergelegen from the Dutch for “far situated”, for in van der Stel’s day, it took some ten hours to ride here from the Castle.
Though van der Stel was a poor Governor, he was an expert agronomist. Soon this fertile soil was producing a rich variety of fruits and vegetables, citrus and grapes, many of which are still cultivated in the area today. He also imported trees like the giant camphor trees and graceful oaks which are still standing today, nearly 300 years later.
The Free Burghers of the district, led by Adam Tas, were incensed by van der Stel’s use of Company resources, his lavish homestead and virtual monopoly over the local market. They petitioned the Company in the Netherlands for his removal. In 1708, van der Stel was recalled to Holland and his estate was confiscated by the state. The manor house was intended to be broken down, but fortunately survived.
The estate was divided into four parts which were put up for auction.
The portion south-east of the Lourens River, upon which the house Vergelegen stood, was sold to Barend Gildenhausen.
The portion north-east of the river was purchased by Jacob van der Heyden. This was later sub-divided into three parts:
A portion which now forms most of Lourensford
A portion called Welgelegen (now known as Erinvale)
A portion between the above which became Vrede-en-Hoop, then Oakwood and is now part of Lourensford again.
The third portion, south-west of these and including land on both sides of the river, was later split into two – Morgenster to the south of the river and Land-en-Zeezicht to the north.
The fourth part of van der Stel’s massive land grant became known as Cloetenburg which today comprises the lower parts of Somerset West.
Over the years, Welgelegen has passed through many hands. In 1816 it was bought from M.W. Theunissen by Helena Munnik, widow of Hercules Morkel. The farm later came into the possession of Daoud Buissini. In 1868 it was bought by an Irishman, Edward Strangman for £800 and renamed Erinvale in honour of his homeland. The stream on the upper part of the estate still bears his name. His son, Frederick, continued to farm Erinvale. Frederick Strangman had two sons, one of whom was killed in World War I. The other, a chemist, was never involved in the farm. Frederick’s youngest daughters, Doreen and Kathleen, took over the running of the farm in 1942 when Frederick died. During their tenure, major alternations were made to the house, masterminded by Doreen, who died in 1981.
Kathleen, Frederick’s youngest daughter, born when he was 60, spent most of her life at Erinvale. She started working on the farm for a mere £5 per annum, and at the age of 32 earned just £20 a year. Kathleen was responsible for relating many of the facts contained in this historical report.
In 1986 the farm was sold to T. Bester. In May 1989, Erinvale was purchased by David Gant, then owner of the adjacent Lourensford Estate, primarily to stave off the constant pressure of developing it into a high density residential area. Because of his wish that its natural rural environment be preserved, Mr Gant, working with respected conservationist Ian Player, conceived the original plans for Erinvale Estate and Golf Club. The ground south of the Lourensford Road to the river, was sold to Vergelegen as part of the negotiations. The manor house has become the Erinvale Hotel.
Erinvale Country Estate and Golf Club comprises of ±260ha and is one of the most prestigious Golf Estates in Southern Africa.
Info and History courtesy:
Peggy Heap, The Story of the Hottentots Holland. AA Balkema (Cape Town) 1965
Dana Benatan, Limited Edition: Erinvale 1994
Vegetation, Climate & Conservation
Erinvale is located in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). The CFR is unique in that it is the only floral kingdom to be located entirely within the geographical confines of one country. It is one of the world’s most biologically interesting ecosystems and an epi-centre of diversity and endemism. Two vegetation types exist on Erinvale, namely Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos and Boland Granite Fynbos.
We are proud to share our boundary on the north-west with the Helderberg Nature Reserve, and homeowners have free access through a security gate to the reserve all year round. This special concession was made as Erinvale donated107ha to the reserve on a 99 year lease.
Helderberg mountain is visible from most of the estate and the natural beauty of the site and its surroundings is obviously enjoyable throughout the entire estate. Upwards from the 120m contour, views of the Hottentots Holland mountains and the basin become available. Views from the site then increase as one moves north and at about the 180m contour, magnificent 360° views inclusive of False Bay may be enjoyed.
Erinvale falls within the Mediterranean climatic zone and thus receives winter rainfall, which is brought on by the strong north-westerly winds. Warm, dry summers are typical of this climatic region and require regular irrigation of gardens.