"the homestead Vergelegen, one of the finest remaining examples of an architectural style called Cape Dutch"
Vergelegen Wine Estate
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeVergelegen Wine Estate - Credit: Borisgorelik

Vergelegen, which means "remotely situated" in Dutch, is an historic wine estate near Somerset West in the Western Cape. The estate was settled in 1700 by an early Governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel.  Van der Stel used the resources of his employer, the Dutch East India Company, to improve the estate.  In 1706 a number of free burghers at the Cape drew up a formal memorandum complaining about van der Stel's activities. As a result, van der Stel and other officials were sacked, and three-quarters of the original Vergelegen estate was sold off.

Cape Dutch house, Tulbagh
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCape Dutch house, Tulbagh - Credit: Joachim Huber

The Cape Dutch Architectural style was prominent in the early years of the Cape Colony.  It has roots in mediaeval Holland, Germany, France and Indonesia.  The style is characterized by ornate rounded gables, demonstrating a variety of styles and decorations.  The front door forms a focal point, with two half-windows and two or four full-width windows equally spaced along either side.  The houses are usually H-shaped, with the front section of the house flanked by two wings running perpendicular to it. Walls are whitewashed, and roofs are often thatched.  Notable surviving examples of the Cape Dutch style, in addition to Vergelegen, include Mogenster near Somerset West (1786) and La Provence near Franschoek (1800).  The oldest existing Cape Dutch gable can be seen on Joostenburg, near Paarl (1756).