The manor house
THE UITKYK WINE FARM WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1712 BUT SUBSEQUENTLY PURCHASED IN 1763 BY MARTIN MELCK. THE FARM WAS A WEDDING GIFT TO HIS DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW, JOHAN BEYERS. MELCK, CAME TO THE CAPE AS A GERMAN MERCENARY AND MADE HIS FORTUNE AS A FARMER.
The name of Uitkyk “look out” given to the estate is most appropriate. Situated on the southwestern slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, it looks out across the Cape Flats to Table Mountain in the distance. It is a splendid setting for the striking and magnificent homestead on the property.
Historians believe the designer of the homestead could have been the French architect, Louis Michel Thibault, who abandoned a career as a designer of military fortifications to devote himself to the graceful embellishment of the local burgher (resident) architecture. Built in 1788, during the ownership of Johan David Beyers to whom the property had been transferred by Martin Melck, it bears a strong likeness to the well-known Martin Melck House in Strand Street, Cape Town.
It is thus highly possible that the same architect, J C Herzendosch, could have been involved in Uitkyk’s design. The fine neo-classical front door that carries the outline of Table Mountain; a design repeated on all the inner doors of the splendidly restored homestead, is attributed to renowned sculptor, Anton Anreith.
The 18th century Georgian neo-classical double-story house completed in 1788, is one of only three such houses left in the country.
DURING THE RESTORATION OF THE HOUSE, TWO BEAUTIFUL MURALS WERE FOUND ON THE INTERIOR WALL OF THE ENTRANCE HALL, BURIED UNDER 15 LAYERS OF PAINT. THE PAINSTAKING AND METICULOUS UNCOVERING WAS PRECEDED BY CAREFUL RESEARCH AND LIAISON WITH EUROPEAN EXPERTS IN THE FIELD.
Samples of paint fragments taken from the murals were sent to Europe for analysis and where possible, similar natural pigments were used in the restoration. The project took three years to complete and in 1998, the year of completion, it was awarded a Cape Times Memorial Medal for exceptional conservation projects in historic architecture.
The original paintings are part of a composition presumably based on the four seasons. The murals make use of neo-classical elements such as swags, ribbons and trompe l’oeil treatments. Delicately painted, the two restored panels portray the seasons of summer and spring. Much of the colourful bird, plant and insect life so meticulously depicted, can be found on Uitkyk today. When work on the opposite wall begins, it is expected that murals depicting autumn and winter will be found.