The Village Museum
The Stellenbosch Village Museum currently comprises of four houses of historical interest and their gardens. Each of these beautiful homes represents a different period in the architectural development of Stellenbosch. The houses, their interiors and their gardens have been wonderfully restored, furnished, planted and decorated to illustrate the particular style and taste of the time. Below is some information on each of the houses in the museum complex.
The first house the museum has restored is the Schreuderhuis. This home was built in 1709, and it survived the first great fire in Stellenbosch. Schreuderhuis is the oldest restored and documented town house in the whole of South Africa. The interior furnishing and the garden are typical of a Stellenbosch home from the period of 1680 – 1720, in true pioneer spirit much of the furniture was made from locally available materials.
The strings of onions, herbs and salted fish hanging from the rafters, the open hearth in the kitchen and the primitive Cape furniture lend a special charm to this dwelling. You will notice that there is sharp contrast to the handsome appointments of later, more opulent homes. In true pioneer spirit much of the furniture was made from locally available materials.
The second home in the museum complex is Blettermanhuis. This house has been restored and furnished to illustrate a wealthy Stellenbosch home from around the period of 1750 – 1790. Blettermanhuis was built in 1789 by Hendrik Lodewyk Bletterman, who was the last landdrost (magistrate) of Stellenbosch to be appointed by the Dutch East India Company.
The house is built in the typical 18th century Cape style, with 6 gables in an H-shaped ground plan. In the front room of Blettermanhuis there is a group portrait of the Storm family. The daughter in the portrait, Maria Magdalena, later married Christian Ludolph Neethling who built another of the houses in the Village Museum complex, Grosvenor House.
Originally built by Christian Ludolph Neethling in 1782, Grosvenor House was added to by successive owners until it reached its present appearance in 1803. Grosvenor House, along with Koopmans de Wet House and the Martin Melck House in Cape Town, is one of the most outstanding examples of a two-storeyed, flat-roofed patrician town house, of which there was a considerable amount in Stellenbosch as well as in Cape Town.
A large garden and early 19th century appointments characterise this home, which represents the period from 1800 – 1830.
The fourth house, which was the home of O.M. Bergh, originally had a thatched roof and gables similar to those of Blettermanhuis. During the 19th century it was altered to look as it does to this day. The home of O.M. Bergh is a typical mid-nineteenth century home with wall-paper, furniture and accessories from the period of 1850 – 1870. O.M. Bergh and his family lived in this house from 1836 up to 1877.