A big group of Lower Albany Historical Society members thoroughly enjoyed an outing to historic farm homes and places of interest at Barville Park and Glendower recently.
LAHS members Margaret Snodgrass and Sue Gordon provided details of the trip and historical background of the places they visited.
They enjoyed a magnificent view from the hill on which stands the Glendower Beacon, built on the 1877 recommendation of harbour engineer Sir John Coode. The 15m-high structure has benefitted passing vessels and aircraft ever since.
“Originally named Monte Verde, the windswept Glendower hill is surely the best vantage point from which to enjoy a coastal view westwards from Kasouga as far as the Diaz Cross. On a clear day, one can see past the Kowie and the east coastline and the hills around Grahamstown to the north,” Gordon said.
Adrian and Elizabeth Ford have owned Glendower Farm for over 20 years. Adrian is the fourth generation Ford farmer. They have Bonsmara cattle and conserve the oribi which have always occurred naturally on the farm. Elizabeth, whose particular passion is her herd of Welsh ponies, shared the Glendower history.
At the heart of their farmhouse lies the dwelling built by Welsh 1820 settler Thomas Philipps, a man of some influence and means. The cottage Philipps built was reed and plaster over a framework and consisted of an entrance hall, two sitting-rooms and five bedrooms. Before Philipps owned it, the farm was a “loan place” registered in the name of Joel Smuts which he abandoned in 1811, as were most loan place farms after the initial wars on the frontier areas. Joel Smuts named the farm Mont Verde (Green Mountain). It was not one of the 1820 settler locations.
Thomas Philipps’ wife, Charlotte, died in Grahamstown in December 1834, just before the Sixth Frontier War of 1835. The Glendower house was burnt down, all the cattle stolen. Philipps did not rebuild the house, gave up farming and moved to Grahamstown where he died in 1859 at the age of 83.
The farm has had many tenants and owners since Philipps but has retained the name Glendower. William Cock became the owner of Glendower in 1848, but sold it the following year. Edward and Stephen Dell also occupied it for a short time, as did Carlisle, Gray, R Featherstone Jnr, Ussher, Parker, Sam Reed and Fred Keeton.
George Vernon Ford, son of Ann and James Ford of Kasouga Farm, lived on Glendower for over 40 years. He renovated the old homestead. Colin Ford, his youngest son, continued to live at Glendower and conserve the indigenous game there, including one of the largest herds of oribi. Colin, Adrian’s father, was also one of three farmers in the area to receive a prestigious National Heritage Award for this work.
“Our LAHS group was made to feel very welcome by Adrian and Elizabeth. There can’t be many farms in the area that enjoy Glendower’s rich history, verdant rolling hills, oribi, huge trees, sea frontage – and even friendly ponies. On our departure for Barville Park, however, the two old anchors from local shipwrecks which decorate Glendower’s gate reminded us of the perils of our coastline. What a great cost there had been, in lives and ships, before the Glendower Beacon was constructed,” Gordon said.
At Barville Park, Judy McGarvie had much to tell the LAHS group about the various owners, first Major Gen Campbell (1822) and his sons, followed by the Dell brothers, from 1842. Personal anecdotes and snippets were woven into her presentation and in the main house a number of historical articles, documents and the Campbell-Dell deed of sale were on display.
The McGarvies, who farm Barville Park today, are also Dell descendants so the farm remains in the family.