Character, Cuisine and a Cat called Krismis ─ a Weekend at Moolmanshof & Stables
As a Capetonian, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many beautiful little towns in the Overberg region, but had not paid a proper visit to Swellendam yet. As luck would have it, the Swellendam Winterschool invited TravelGround to attend some of their courses and I jumped at this opportunity to spend a weekend in Swellendam. Being a National Monument, Moolmanshof & Stables was the obvious accommodation choice!
It was late afternoon when Adriëtte and I arrived in Swellendam and the white-washed walls and classic Cape Dutch architecture of Moolmanshof greeted us with a true Overberg handshake. Lizette, the owner and manager, welcomed us with her unique smile and we immediately knew we had made the right choice to stay there. With a loud purr, Krismis, the resident cat, also made us feel at home instantly.
At first glance, you get a definite feeling that you are in a very special place and, given Moolmanshof’s history, it’s no wonder! The massive garden and lawns are the perfect place to keep the children busy and the fireplaces throughout the house keep the winter at bay.
Beside Lizette and Krismis, we were also met by the amazing smell of homemade soup in the making that led us through the front door, down the hallway and to the beautiful lounge. Lizette explained that she often hosts soup-and-bread evenings during winter and the Swellendam residents absolutely love it.
It was like she read our minds (or maybe our facial expressions) and she kindly invited us to attend dinner the next evening. We were thrilled! After we accepted her invitation, she showed us to our room which would serve as our home base for the next few nights.
Between the comfortable beds, the warm bedding and amazing en-suite shower, we were able to recharge after a jam-packed day, while Lizette checked in to make sure we had everything we needed.
When we returned to Moolmanshof Saturday afternoon, the 220-year-old house was hustling and bustling. After enjoying a lovely sherry with some of the local guests, we sat down to a buffet table with two gourmet soups, different types of bread (even one tinted black with the now ever so popular charcoal), cheese, jam and roasted sweet potato. I’ll be honest, we had seconds and even thirds of some of the soup. After eating way too much, we went to bed for our final night at Moolmanshof.
Still quite full from the soup, we were woken by the smell of bacon as Lizette was preparing our breakfast. From eggs made to order, toast, jam, cheese, fruit and every other possible breakfast item you can think of on one plate!
The magic behind Moolmanshof
The property is over two hundred years old and is, according to sources, the oldest house still standing in Swellendam. It was registered for the first time in 1799 by Esselbrug, a Calvinistic missionary from Switzerland. He constructed the original farmhouse in the classic ‘I’-shape of the time with small windows and the floors being laid close to the ground and small windows. Because of the thatched roof, the house also had a fire-resisting ceiling to protect the interior of the house from fire ─ a known feature of the original Cape Dutch-style houses. A separate cottage was constructed behind the house and today guests can stay here as well as in the main house.
The house was converted into a T-shape in 1814 and received its name from its third owner, Moolman, who converted it into the H-shape we see today. He installed the yellowwood ceilings and yellow and stinkwood doors inside the house. In the early 1900s the (then) owners replaced the thatched roof with iron. Since then, the property had many owners and was declared a National Monument in 1982. In 1979, the house was first used as a B&B by the (then) owners, the Montgomerys. Lizette bought the property in 2005 and has owned and managed Moolmanshof & Stables ever since.
Today, Moolmanshof still gleams with the splendour of a bygone era. Lovingly taken care of by Lizette and her staff, it is a home to those looking to visit the Overberg and its many activities.
A special moment dedicated to Krismis
Krismis is just an ordinary cat that decided to live an extraordinary life as Moolmanshof’s resident pet and pawed protector. He usually lounges on the front porch in a sunspot and would probably greet you even before Lizette does. He arrived at Moolmanshof one Christmas and was so impressed by Lizette’s setup that he decided to make it his forever home. You sure made the right choice, Krismis!
Moolmanshof truly is an Overberg oasis and the perfect base from where Swellendam and all its treasures can be explored and enjoyed!
A special thanks to Lizette for hosting us at Moolmanshof.
All photos were taken by Adriëtte le Roux and Hesté Nortier unless otherwise specified.