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Keerweder - A Whale of a Sale, by Patrick Chapman

  9 October 2012     Archived

If you are looking for an excuse for a lovely day in the country in this case, Franschhoek and a chance to see a magnificent house with the contents arranged as though the owners have just popped out for a minute, go to Keerweder on Friday 19 October or the following two days. You can park in the area just round the corner from the Huguenot museum, whence a Citi Hopper will whisk you to the homestead itself. Viewing is 10am to 5pm each day and the sale, conducted by Strauss & Company, (tel. 021 683 6500) is on Monday 22nd.

And what a sale it is. The catalogue, all 170 glossy pages, shows antique furniture, mostly Cape and colonial, paintings, prints, carpets, silver, ceramics garden statuary. Some extraordinary pieces, too. What caught my eye was a Northern Chinese 19C marriage bed, painted in glowing red, gilded and carved, with painted panels and sumptuous in the extreme. Perhaps a little over the top for your beach house, but certainly a talking point.

Paintings include a good Pierneef and several mid 18C Dutch portraits, looking so at ease in this classic H-shaped Cape Dutch homestead, thoroughly restored in 1992 by its present owners. Dr Hans Fransen, expert on Cape houses, regards it as “one of the finest monuments in the entire Franschhoek valley.”
There are items of Cape silver, interesting and collectable books, even everyday household items such as linen, kitchenware and curtains; so if you attend the sale on Monday, or simply leave a bid, you have a chance to “own a piece of history” as the auctioneer says.

Contributing to the feeling that the owners may return any moment, is the array of personally-selected items like Hylton Nel ceramic figures, a group of 12 ivory Ekipas from Namibia, antique oriental jars and even a mini-motor fleet comprising a 1930 Model A Ford, one classic Mercedes saloon and one 420 SEC coupé and a Volvo- presumably a vehicle for the staff.

The name Keerweder, which means “Turn Back” or possibly, “Come Again”, was the first farm in the Franschhoek valley to be allotted to a European, one Heinrich Muller from Basel. That was in 1692. The thatched homestead is set against a glorious backdrop of orchards, vines and rose gardens; well worth a visit. Unless you are well-connected with the new owners, you may not have the opportunity again.


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