Tour Locations | Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine
LOCATION 6 | Museum Audio Guide: Home to South African Wine
Master Bedroom: An Afternoon Nap
Narrator: Take a moment to look at the furniture in this room. There’s a mahogany four poster bed, a cot of stinkwood and pine, a cloudy mirror with an elaborate gilt frame, a basin of fine Chinese porcelain, and a bidet, also of Chinese porcelain. You won’t find any bathrooms or toilets in the house.
Here’s Thys again.
Thys: The main bedroom as we see it today…that’s probably what it would have looked like originally…where the master of the house, the master of the farm, reigned [from].
Narrator: Thys says “originally” because the fire that started in the kitchen in 1925 destroyed the contents of the manor house. Most of the furniture, ceramics and art here now were painstakingly collected by Alfred de Pass, a businessman with a guano empire.
De Pass did his best to record what had been lost and found replacements at auctions or in private collections. Then he bequeathed all of it to Groot Constantia. His patronage extended beyond the Cape too, and you’ll also find items donated by De Pass at the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Before we move on, it’s worth listening to a story about Hendrik Cloete Junior, a master of the farm who loved his bed.
Thys: He was different from his father in that he was a morose man and he liked his afternoon sleep…There’s one account of a British soldier, Robert Percival…He visited the estate, he and two of his colleagues.
Narrator: The three men knocked on the manor house door. Nobody answered initially. But the men had come a long way. They knocked louder and longer. Eventually, the door did open, and a grumpy man behind it gave them bad news. Hendrik Cloete Junior was home, but he was sleeping. He couldn’t be disturbed.
Thys: So they had to wait until Cloete’s sleeping time was over, and in the meantime slaves showed them around…Apparently that’s what the slaves also did, continuously.
Narrator: Then, after their tour of the vineyards and the cellar, the men were at last welcomed into the manor house. And there, ready to entertain, was the same man who had grumpily answered the door. This time, Hendrik Cloete Junior didn’t seem to mind introducing himself.
When you’re ready, carry on into the study, which is next door. Then play track seven.