Today we take a look at one the beauties on the estate – the Excelsior Guest House. This grande Dame is the only 4star guest house on a working farm in the area and this year celebrates 100 years of splendour!
(We know buildings are supposedly gender neutral, but with the glamorous decorativeness of a volstruispaleis, can she really be anything other than feminine?)
A volstruispaleis (“ostrich palace”) is a collective term for very grand mansions built just after the turn of the previous century with so-called ostrich feather money. During that time, the ostrich feathers was very much the fashion of the day and prices fetched up to an astonishing six pounds per feather! And to give a bit of perspective, one could travel to England by boat for the cost of said six pounds!
Ostrich farmers made a lot of money very quickly and there are still examples of these lavish mansions around the Little Karoo, particularly in the Oudtshoorn area. The most of these palaces are in the Victorian style, with typical broekie lace porches and corrugated roofs. Our lady, however, was built in the Cape Dutch Revival style, which emerged around the 1890s with its high point in around 1910, and particularly used by well-known architect Sir Herbert Baker.
There is more to tell about the ostrich era, including how Henry Ford changed everything, but that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, we can tell you that we are planning something very special to celebrate this remarkable birthday, so keep watching this space.
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