Named for the stately oak trees that have graced Eikehof for eons, the farmstead stands firmly on historic Cape Dutch foundations. Eikehof may be just 12 km from Worcester, but it’s centuries away from the craziness of 21st century life. Here, you can step back 200 years and be steeped in the authentic and genteel lifestyle of yesteryear. It’s easy to imagine Lady Anne Barnard visiting this gracious farm, because she actually did.
Set in 130 hectares, with the farm running all the way into the foothills of the moody Olifantsberg, the original Eikehof house was built around 1800. About 40 years later the gable and H section was added. Today the house is a national monument that’s lived in and loved.
Trees feature prominently on the farm, with over 600 additional trees recently planted. Fruit and nuts, olives and citrus trees nestle the house, along with a century-old oak tree, while towering pin oaks also provide shade in the toasty summers. It’s peaceful, beautiful and restorative to amble in the orchards and pick seasonal fruit to eat en route. There’s a small vineyard too, with only wine on its mind.
Worcester gets hot in summer and snows in winter but, as was the old way, the house is masterfully built with natural climate control. Thick walls, high ceilings and mountain breezes do the trick. In winter, you’ll all be gathered around the open hearth fireplace in the kitchen, or pulled up close to the fire in the lounge or games room. Winter in Worcester is particularly magical, surrounded by snow-dusted mountains and with the surrounding countryside verdant and alive. Locals say it’s the best time of year there, by far.
Inside, Eikehof house is lux farm style. You’ll enjoy beautiful white bed linen and thick towels, walk on worn Persian carpets and relax in velvet armchairs. A generous, scrubbed wooden table in the kitchen is for dining in situ over lazy meals. The blue plate collection here echoes the many shards of ancient blue porcelain found in the garden, and likely brought here by early Dutch settlers. It will one day be fashioned into an historic mosaic piece. Since the dining room wasn’t needed, it took on new life as a games room with a big round table for playing fun board games or serious chess clashes. There’s a fireplace for crackling winter warmth here too.
In all, there are seven enchanting old-world styled bedrooms, with large and luxurious bathrooms replete with enamel ball-and-claw baths and some with showers too. There are king-sized beds throughout the homestead and cottages. The three bedrooms in the main house are all en-suite too. In the freshly renovated ‘old school house’ cottage are two bedrooms and a bathroom, there’s a second cottage with an en-suite bedroom and a kitchenette, and a third cottage with an en-suite bedroom, a kitchenette and a hot tu .
As you move through the house, you’ll literally be walking across history. The floors are original yellowwood and Oregon, as are the heavy ceiling beams. Rooms are framed with rare and original single-panel yellowwood and stinkwood doors, and sash windows are shielded by internal wooden shutters. It’s a different world of grand proportions and symmetry, grace and timeless Cape Dutch design, with mountain views from every window. Yet nothing in the house is precious either.
Wake up early, cosy up with a mug of coffee on the front verandah and watch the sun rise from behind the mountains. Sometimes it’s misty, but always the light dances across the rock faces and foothills. In the evenings you may be enveloped in light that’s candyfloss pink, as the sun sets on the day. You can also watch this natural mountain theatre while dipping in the round pool, which has been fashioned from an old farm dam.
In addition to all the fruit-bearing trees, there’s also a cool bluegum forest with a stream running through it. The water is sweet and clean and fresh from the mountain. And it’s said that once you taste the water, you will forever want to return to this majestic place that’s guarded by old oak trees – just as it always was.
What we love!
- The avenue of poplar trees that welcome you on arrival.
- That so much of the house is original.
- Magnificent antique furniture and chandeliers.
- The smell of wood throughout the house.
- A round antique copper sink in the kitchen.
- A vegetable garden where you can pick what you need.
- Kids will love the goats and chickens – and you’ll love the daily fresh eggs!
- All the day trips to pick cherries in Ceres or see snow, visit the Slanghoek valley, do tastings at various wine farms or do the Robertson wine route, and dine in excellent restaurants nearby.
- Walking, hiking or biking at leisure across the farm and into the foothills.
What you need to know…
- While the farm has space in abundance for fourteen guests and ample areas for dining together, please note that the kitchen is on the small side. Best to delegate kitchen duties to a couple of chefs and get your sous chefs to prep at the big table in the adjoining room. There’s an extra oven in the larger cottage too, should your feasting be elaborate you’ll have no trouble making a plan!
- The pool is not covered but is about 80m from the house.
- Games are supplied.
- Eikehof is a working farm and as such the extensive gardens need to be maintained and newly planted trees watered.
- Lawns are cut and mowers need to run to keep the huge lawns maintained.
- We try our best to work around guests and keep noise to a minimum.
Reviewed by Keri Harvey