Theewaterskloof Dam Self Catering Accommodation

Welcome to Gloria Farm

Magnificent self-catering accommodation on the edge of Theewaterskloof dam with dramatic outlook over the dam and towards the Riviersonderend mountain range.

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Gloria Farm is one of the original farms laid out in this area in the 1850’s. The main residence was first erected in 1867 by then owner, Piet de Kock. De Kock and his son, Michiel, farmed with horses and mules and regular auctions of these livestock used to be held on the farm. He also built up a large Friesian breeding herd before selling the farm to its most well-known owner, Charles Leonard, in 1903.

Charles was directly descended from the Eastern Cape 1820 settlers and was schooled in Somerset East. He became a brilliant lawyer after serving Articles at “Fairbridge and Arderne” attorneys and also agitated against President Paul Kruger. In 1885, in a published article, he warned against the growing likelihood of conflict between the Afrikaners and the English and by 1888, after moving into the Transvaal, he had established the pre-eminent legal firm there through a merger with his firm, “Van Zyl, Buissine & Leonard” and “Ford & Jeppe” – principally representing interests of the English-speaking community. This led to the formation of the Transvaal National Union of which Charles became president in 1894.

In this capacity he was an opponent of the Jamieson Raid and thereafter, he returned with his family to England for 8 years. When he returned in 1903, he was able to secure Gloria Farm through the agency of Sir David de Villiers Graaff and immediately set about expanding and building a farming empire. He bought 8 other neighbouring farms from East to West and gave them alternating English and Afrikaans names: “Wheatlands”, “Oskop”, “Gloria”, “Kaleruggens”, “Lyttleton”, “Swartstomp”, “Queen Anne”, “Amandelhoutrivier” and “Sweetwater”. He enlarged the Gloria farmhouse to encompass 17 rooms with Italian imported tiles and a new Canadian gas-fuelled lighting system. He also had to import the first steam-driven water pump in the area to pump water all the way from the Riviersonderend river to the farmhouse. He employed all the latest farming methods and equipment and brought in the highly-recommended Billy Ferrandi from Cape Town as a full-time mechanic to maintain all these modern wonders of mechanization. He also pioneered the now-famous 13 wire fencing system (4 of which were dug in underground to prevent jackal migration) of which there are still some remnants standing more than 100 years later.

He was a great advocate for private forestry development and planted many Eucalyptus trees around the borders of his properties to provide shelter for his livestock. Still today, the dry cones of these trees provide excellent and smoke free fuel for the famous art-deco fireplaces to be found in the farmhouse. He continued and built upon the successful Friesian cattle breeding operation and his milk and cheeses were widely sought after. But perhaps his biggest passion was reserved for the “Wanganella” strain of Merino sheep that he imported from Australia and the stud that he established on Gloria became world famous.

He had many illustrious visitors come to the farm and he loved entertaining and envigorating conversation. One of these was Rudyard Kipling who, after hearing Charles’s discourse on his love of the land and farming endeavour, was moved to write an “octave” that he autographed and was to be found hanging on the wall in the farmhouse. It was entitled “The Making of the Place” and, although, the whereabouts of the original is no longer known, a deep search of the Cape Town archives did unearth a copy. It reads:

“Ah the Hope that lures us on
Headlong to the game –
This shall last when we are gone
This shall bear our name.
When the tombstone tilts awry,
When the date is blurred,
This shall bear abundantly
Mower, flock and herd.”

In 1917, however, Charles divided up and sold off his farming empire. Gloria Farm was sold into the De Villiers family and Oupa Koos de Villiers took up the passion for the Merino Stud. He used to travel annually to the Merino auction in Bloemfontein and, one year, he drove up in his brand new Buick. At the auction he found a Merino ram irresistible and summarily removed the rear seat of his Buick so that the ram could travel back to his farm in style.

Gloria Farm remained in the De Villiers family for many years until it was sold to a company owned by a Mr Jan Ackermann. Ackermann spent almost 10 years upgrading the old farmhouse into what is now a spectacular tribute to the history and tradition of this “spogplaas”. He did not however enjoy the farming success of his predecessors and sold the farm to its current owners in 2010.

So the farm is now flourishing again, producing excellent crops of grain, good grazing for sheep, cattle, horses and a variety of other livestock. There is a small but excellent plantation of proteas and many of the outbuildings have been renovated and are now in productive use. The manor house comprises 4 double, en-suite luxury rooms, 1 bunk room for children, formal and informal dining rooms, 2 enormous patio areas, large farmhouse kitchen with open fireplace, scullery and pantry and a separate lounge area.

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