The Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement was not only driven by Arts and Crafts architectural ideas, but also the need to establish a common heritage between English and Afrikaans speaking South Africans at the Union of South Africa in 1910. The Cape Dutch preservation and revival movement also allowed the English and Empire ideologues to appropriate a history that they had no hand in making and thereby bed themselves more convincingly into the soil of the land. The Cape Dutch gable, in particular, became a floating signifier of both union and the legitimacy of Empire at the Cape.

Lekkerwijn was originally granted to Ari L'Ecrivant in 1690. This name sounded like "lekkerwijn" to the Dutch ear and so the farm got its name. L'Ecrivant's ownership was short lived and ended dramatically when he was murdered by his neighbour, Abraham de Villiers, who became the next owner. The farm then became part of the extensive De Villiers holdings in the valley for the next 150 years. As with many Cape wine farms, the 1880s Phylloxera outbreak bankrupted it and it was sold to Cecil John Rhodes in 1892, who was cannily buying up farms in the stricken area so as to establish the Rhodes Fruit Farms, which was to be the start of the deciduous fruit industry at the Cape.

In 1892, the team Rhodes put in place to start his fruit farming project comprised Pickstone, one Van Reenen (a local farmer) and one Lionel Baker - brother of the architect Herbert Baker. And here the connection between Rhodes, Baker and Pickstone was established.

In 1898, Harry Pickstone became the first manager of the Rhodes Fruit Farms. His residence was at L'Crevént - Lekkerwijn. Herbert Baker and his wife were both visitors and so it was almost inevitable that Baker advised Harry Pickstone on the extension of the Lekkerwijn homestead to accommodate his growing family.

The house demonstrates a fine example of this "appropriation". The plan Baker put forward for the house was a double-storied, double-gabled house rather like Groote Schuur. It obliterated the original "Cape Dutch" house, replacing it with one in the new style gaining popularity, both aesthetic and political, at the Cape at the time. Pickstone baulked at the grand scheme and only agreed to one wing of the scheme being executed n 1908. Thus, in Lekkerwijn we can see the vernacular and the Cape Revival side-by-side.

Source: Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa

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