The History Behind The Oaks

Heritage Site

The Oaks has a rich historical background and is currently under consideration for a Provincial Heritage status which will acknowledge the Oaks Manor House Complex as one of the best examples of a complete Cape Dutch farmyard in South Africa.

The homestead was considered as the most elegant and comfortable home, outside of Cape Town itself.


Much care and attention has been given to preserve the architectural integrity and history of the buildings in a restoration project which has taken over 3 years. As early as 1727 Smidht, who established the first Christian Missionary at Genadendal close to Greyton, built the first structure on the farm.

The structure has stood against the elements and exists today as it were all those decades ago, making this property and its assets a commemorable artform.

Way Back When

In the 1800s the farm became famous for breeding the best race horses in the Cape Colony and for the contribution to the development of agriculture in South Africa. It is also during this time that the homestead was seen as ‘the most elegant and comfortable home in the colony outside Cape Town itself’ (Burrows 101). Some of the most prominent figures in the history of the Overberg have lived and farmed on The Oaks. Van Breda and Bailey specifically are recorded in historical archives as having made a significant contribution to the development of agriculture in South Africa.

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"The discovery that the old buildings were a truly historic gem was quite unexpected. It initiated a new adventure and extensive project. The three year renovation of The Oaks Farmyard has been a family effort."

- Gert Ehlers


Once the work began we uncovered many exciting original materials like the magnificent yellow wood timbers and stonework which we were able to incorporate into the new construction. This further helped us to rehabilitate the Manor House complex to its former glory.


The buildings were found in a very dilapidated state. The Manor House was last occupied more then 50 years ago and many structures had been ‘added onto’ to the original buildings. Historian, Dicey du Toit, provided the expertise in researching the history of the farm with specific emphasis on the architectural history.


Malherbe & Rust architects have guided us through the project with the primary priority being historic authenticity. The work has been carried out meticulously and care has been given to every detail, resulting in a magnificently restored and preserved piece of architectural history.