• LOCATION 10 | Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Dining Hall: Anna de Koningh’s Amoire

    Dining Hall: Anna de Koningh’s Amoire on Cape Town audio tour Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine

    Narrator: There are two ornate cupboards here in the dining room. One is on the right if you’re facing back towards the entrance, next to the painting of the ship called Africa.

    The other cupboard is on the left. It’s more elaborate and made of pale silkwood.

    Spotted it? Go over and take a look.

    It’s beautifully carved, don’t you think? This cupboard belonged to Anna de Koningh, who was the first woman to own Groot Constantia. It is now almost 250 years old.

    Anna de Koningh was born a slave in Batavia, which is Jakarta today. But she died one of the wealthiest people at the Cape, after leading a turbulent life.

    Anna was counted among the first 14 slaves at the Cape, along with her Indian mother. In 1655, both of them were sold to Jan van Riebeeck. Eleven years later, they were freed.

    Anna wowed people here with her beauty and married well. She had 12 children. She shared her husband Oloff Bergh’s banishment on Robben Island. Then she went with him to Ceylon, where he once again proved his value to the Dutch East Indian Company. When Bergh rose, she rose with him. Then she outlived him by ten years.

    Here’s Thys again.

    Thys: She became Anna…became quite well off…and obviously in the end she was rich. She owned property in Cape Town…and she owned the farms Saxenberg, Kuils River and Groot Constantia. She had I think 26 slaves.

    Narrator: Our next stop is outside the manor house, but the house has two more rooms worth exploring if you have time. Just to the left of Anna de Koningh’s cupboard, you’ll see the entrance to the workroom. Inside it, you’ll find an antique linen press that was less of a hassle to use than an iron. You just stuck your washing in it overnight. And through the next door, there’s another bedroom. It has an inviting but heavy stoneware bathtub from China. Getting it all the way here two hundred years ago couldn’t have been easy.

    When you’re ready, go out the glass backdoor and walk down the steps. But don’t carry on out into the courtyard. Play track eleven first.

Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine