Unsurpassed Traditions Continue at Hartford House
"To us, our house had a heart, and a soul and eyes to see us with; and approvals and solicitudes and deep sympathies; it was us and we were in its confidence and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction." Mark Twain
Hartford House is unmistakenly one of the KZN Midlands' top boutique hotels, its history rich manor house and uber styish accommodation makes Hartford House the sought after venue for family celebrations, weddings, anniverseries, birthdays and barmitzvas.
Hartford House was home to the family of the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal, it is situated on South Africa's most famous thoroughbred farm, Summerhill Stud, near Giant's Castle. Chosen by the Rulers of Dubai as the location for their priceless stallions, the "gem of the Midlands" is remembered by chroniclers as one of the country's most beautiful homes, with its award-winning gardens and acclaimed fine dining.
Renowned for its location on one of the world's most enchanting estates, as well as its proximity to the Midlands Meander, Weenen and Drakensberg game and mountain reserves and Boschhoek Golf Estate, Hartford is revered by travellers as the home of good conversation, old whiskey and classic horses. Hartford House holds the distinction of being a Gold Achiever at Indaba, the international travel show, alongside The Mount Nelson, The Marine, Cellars - Hohenhort, The Cape Grace, Mala Mala and Singita, among others.
"About ten years ago, a group of local kids approached us with a view to auditioning as a traditional dance troupe." Duncan Bruce, Hartford House GM told The Bugle. "In the event, some 30 turned up, ranging from ages 8 to 18, together with six makeshift drums, strapped with animal hides and beaten with garden hoses as substitutes for the traditional drumsticks." These youngsters were not just talented, they had regaled themselves in the full ceremonial gear at their own expense, yet they were part of an impoverished community. It was then that it was decided that they would be a permanent fixture, on duty every Saturday evening at Hartford House for as long as the weather permitted.
Until three years ago, they'd never ventured beyond the confines of Mooi River, then, out of the blue, they were invited to perform at the Provincial Championships in Durban. There they won the right to represent KZN at the National Championships, and the rest is a fairytale. As the best dance group in South Africa, they were sent to Tokyo for the World Traditional Dance Championships, and on debut, they ranked third, in the whole darn world! It's barely believable, we know, but here they were, the only team on the African continent to rank this high, and a year later, in Hong Kong, they finished second.
Reality is, this team is still a "work in progress", and they're getting better by the day, to the degree that we were confident, had it taken place as scheduled in the United States earlier this year, they might've returned with the World crown. Sadly, the present economic climate in the United States has led to the postponement of the event, but these youngsters will still have their day.
You need only ask those that've witnessed their routine to know how good they are. And while a man of Michael Jackson's dance talents owes everything he's knows to his African roots, he'd struggle to make the "bench" in the Hartford troupe.