Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Category: EZULWENI

Duncan Hay lands fine Rainbow Trout

Duncan Hay with his 3.0kg Rainbow Trout

Duncan Hay with his 3.0kg Rainbow Trout

We are often blessed at Hartford House with the visitation of very interesting guests. This week was no exception as Duncan Hay and his lovely wife Vicki joined us for a few days.

Duncan is a researcher from the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) with expertise including; biodiversity and conservation, community based natural resource management, integrated catchment management, project and programme planning as well as rural community development.

Duncan is also a keen fisherman, as can be seen by the photo above. He caught this healthy Rainbow Trout, weighing in at 3.0kg, early on Wednesday morning in our main trout dam, Preston Pan. His tool of the trade was a "Black Leaded Woolly Hopper".

An interesting note is that Duncan was a friend of David Rattray from university, and they would spend time exploring Fugitives' Drift where survivors escaping the Battle of Isandlwana crossed the Buffalo River, where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill lost their lives saving the Queen's Colour of the 24th Regiment and where David Rattray later established the world-renowned Fugitives' Drift Lodge.

(Photo kindly supplied by Duncan Hay)

visit
www.landoflegends.co.za

The truth is incontrovertible: The Best Value in the World.

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The Hartford Zulu Dance Troupe
(Hartford House)

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One thing you’ll always notice about the change of seasons in the Drakensberg area, is that each season has a distinct character, and this year Spring has been as spectacular as ever.

It’s not only the birds that are singing: undoubtedly the best boy’s choir in the world, the Drakensberg Boys' Choir, is situated just up the road from us and they’re preparing for their Summer and Christmas seasons. If you’re in the vicinity of Hartford House, be sure to let us arrange a visit for you to one of life’s most outstanding choral experiences. We can even pack you a delicious picnic lunch and direct you via South Africa’s art capital, Clarens, all in the same morning.

Besides a burst of greenery and the profusion of young buds, they’re foaling “royalty” at South Africa’s champion racehorse breeding establishment, Summerhill Stud. This weekend also witnessed the departure of more than 100 bouncing two-year-olds to the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale in Johannesburg, on their way to racing glory no doubt.

Most of these youngsters have never set foot on a moving vehicle in their lives, and it’s a joy to watch the skills of our young Zulu horsemen coaxing them aboard to the encouraging serenades of school children, wives and "gogos" (or grandmothers) at the loading ramps.

You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to get among the trophy trout on this property. Just a few weekends back, two of our young guests availed themselves of our "master-class fly casting lessons", and each came away with prize trout of between six and seven pounds.

Another couple, whilst enjoying a “bomb-proof” horse ride in the direction of the Boathouse and Magic Mirror lake, were thrilled by a sudden stampede of startled Reedbuck and the sighting of the endangered Oribi.

We continue to be surprised, (but oh so pleasantly) at the pilgrimage of foreigners who travel from so far to visit with us at Hartford.

While we’ve always enjoyed a healthy sprinkling of Brits and Europeans, and a throng from the horse-loving countries to the west and east of us, we appear to have new devotees from the United States and Australia. People are supposedly rediscovering their roots, and it seems this area (Hartford House and Summerhill in particular) offers one of the warmest, most hospitable and genuinely authentic experiences on the planet.

There are others who delight in the entertainment of our Zulu dance troupe, and it’s a source of considerable pride to tell you that in a couple of weeks, they'll be winging their way to their third World Traditional Dance Championships to be held in the United States. The troupe have already achieved 2nd and 3rd in Tokyo and Hong Kong respectively and believe they now know how it’s done, and we’re confident they’ll return home the best Traditional Dance troupe in the world.

We know we don’t have to ask you to join us in wishing them well on their way. It’s the visits of our Guests that have encouraged and uplifted our people to such a degree, and we’re forever grateful for the contributions you make.

We sincerely hope this note finds you in the “pink”. If you aren’t already on your way to us, please visit us on our website at www.hartford.co.za for the latest in what’s up at Hartford. There’s just a tiny chance we might be able to lure you back before too long!

With the Rand at unprecedented levels against the major currencies, South Africans will be staying at home more than ever, and our foreign friends will find us the best value in the world, by a country mile.

Warmest regards,

PAULA MACKENZIE
HARTFORD HOUSE

Nhlanhla Suite 16 at Hartford House

Nhlanhla Bathroom / Hartford House (p)

Nhlanhla Bathroom / Hartford House (p)

Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language’s most wonderful words. It really means “good luck”, but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.

This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni (“in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford House’s colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.

In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820’s and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban’s “grand old dame”, the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl’s introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal.

The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!

Nhlanhla has become the suite of choice of His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, ruling monarch of the Mountain Kingdom, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he keeps several horses which feed his and his nation’s passion for the equine species.

Siyabonga Suite 15 at Hartford House

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

In Zulu the word Siyabonga means “we are grateful” or “give thanks to”, and this suite is part of the Ezulweni (meaning “in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford’s own colonial styled origins. The suite was named that way by our Zulu building team once complete, as much echoing their own relief at having accomplished what was for them in the nature of something unique in architectural style, as it was for the natural beauty and ambience which the suite exudes.

Built with materials harvested largely off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or otherwise acquired in the near vicinity, Siyabonga is characterized by its collection of African artifacts and its stunning sleeping quarters, clad in local Drakensberg sandstone. The bathroom features romantically aligned twin tubs, and the suite is rendered with a combination of mud and locally harvested river pebbles, all of which has withstood the ravages of our summer thunderstorms and occasional winter snowfalls with surprising resilience. The Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss while she was overseeing the renovation of Lynton Hall, which she decorated in Colonial antiques, recalling the arrival of Indian indentured labour for the colony’s fledging sugar industry.

In recent times, Siyabongahas become the suite of choice of HisRoyal Highness Sheikh Mohammed of the Ruling Family of Dubai, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he stands several stallions and mares of world renown. Another visitor of fame whose name has become embedded in the lore of Siyabonga, is Angus Gold, a celebrated reveller, who is also associated with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Siyabonga.

In contrast to the natural materials with which the suite was erected, the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!

Inkanyezi Suite 14 at Hartford House

View from Inkanyezi's private deck / Felicity Hayward (p)

View from Inkanyezi's private deck / Felicity Hayward (p)

The word Inkanyezi means the first or the morning star in Zulu, and this suite was christened in that calling by the Zulus who built it. Most of our Zulu staff come from rural environs, and almost all of them have grown up in rondavels built of mud. Yet those that were engaged in building Inkanyezi marvelled that people of European descent should be building with materials of mud, timber and thatch, while most of our African brethren these days have embraced the materials used by Europeans.

To them, this example of a rondavel resembled a shining star, hence their selection of the most prominent star to portray their emotions. Most of the materials used in the suite were sourced either off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or from the immediate vicinity, with raw mud bricks forming the basis of the walls and a mud and straw rendering applied instead of plasterwork.

The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Inkanyezi.

There are two especially interesting pieces in the suite, namely the 1820 convent linen press acquired from the old Orange Free State (as we used to know it), while the painting on the wall, depicting a North African market scene, is by an unknown but obviously talented African artist.

The main entrance door is from India, and was chosen by Cheryl Gosswhile she was busy remodeling what is now Lynton Hall, where the antique furnishings echoed that property’s colonial past and its association with indentured Indian labour. The verandah columns are of Rhajastani origin.

Mbulelo Suite 13 at Hartford House

Mbulelo Bedroom / Patrick Royal (p)

Mbulelo Bedroom / Patrick Royal (p)

One of the “eco” suites making up Hartford’s Ezulweni (“in the heavens”) collection, Mbulelo was fashioned almost entirely from locally sourced materials. The mud bricks were harvested from the clay foundations on the site on which the suite stands today, mixed with horse dung and shredded horse bedding, and then sun-baked (as opposed to “kiln” baked) for the purpose. Almost all the timber, as well as the stone and slate, has come from the estate itself or its immediate environs, while the doors and shutters were imported by Cheryl Goss from India while she was busy remodelling what is now Lynton Hall, where the furnishings echo that property’s colonial past, and its association with indentured Indian labour.

These pieces were “leftovers” from that project, and there are other recollections of them to be seen in the columns around the neighbouring rondavel suite, Inkanyezi and the other with the “garden” roof, Siyabonga. Mbulelomeans “thanksgiving” in Xhosa, the language Mick Goss grew up with. It’s as much a gesture of thanks for the fact that this building, with its local materials, built by our Zulu staff and possessed of a flat roof with all the potential for “leakage”, hasn’t disintegrated after several years in existence, as it is for the gratitude we owe for the environment in which we live, and the remarkable people among whom we live.

The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Mbulelo.

GIANT'S CASTLE : Majestic presence entices local and international visitors

Ezulweni Suites on the Lake / Hartford House (p)

Ezulweni Suites on the Lake / Hartford House (p)

Giant’s Castle’s majestic presence, although shrouded in the blue haze of distance, is a sure sign you’re close to Hartford House. This award-winning, boutique country house is steeped in history dating back to 1875. It’s on the greater Summerhill estate, one of South Africa’s renowned racehorse stud farms and four times national breeder of the year. Here fine dining, the wellness centre and various outdoor activities make up an holistic Hartford experience. Search the world over there is, arguably, no other property like this.

Hartford is soon to celebrate the launch of its greatest work, Ezulweni. This is a compendium of suites of a mould nobody has known before. Built exclusively from materials harvested from the greater Hartford and Summerhill estates and the immediate environment, Ezulweni is a fine example of what’s achievable when local Zulu craftsmen, raised in a spirit of originality, are given the freedom to express the full extent of their talents.

Hailed as a triumph for creativity, these suites are proof of the compatibility between the natural influences of Africa and the sophisticated elegance of the colonial era.