If you weren’t around in the late 1800s and the early part of the twentieth century, you’re most likely to remember Hartford, the farm, for the exploits of its famous racehorses. In 1939, the late Raymond Ellis and his family acquired the property as a country retreat, a refuge from their beachfront hotels and property holdings in Durban.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Goss Family
The magic of Hartford House is something one understands only by spending time there. There is a sense of wonder and charm that is chiselled onto the pristine green canvas of the surrounding fields. The sounds of birds, the distant bray of horses and the scent of fresh crisp ozone are just some of its charms. - Kasia YokoRead More
The Hartford style has always been to invest in people with a sense of originality and adventure, who know the value of style and the meaning of hard work, and in Constantijn Hahndiek, Cheryl Goss believes she has found the ideal bearer of this tradition.Read More
I thought everything that had to be said about Wayne Coetzer’s prowess as a hotelier had been said, but this week the GM at The Oyster Box surpassed himself, even by his own lofty standards. Before I elaborate, let me put it into context.Read More
Wayne Coetzer has long occupied a space in our minds that counts him among the world's great hoteliers. Possessed of a street wisdom that entitles him to get up several hours after the rest of us and still win the race, Coetzer's peoples' skills have been honed in the front row of hospitality's 'hurly-burly'. His understanding of the mechanics of his trade borders on the Biblical, he has an intuitive knack of knowing his customers, and polishes it with an impish sense of humour which he maintains whatever the job throws at him.Read More
Hartford House Emtonjeni Suite 12
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Emtonjeni Suite 12
We are blessed on our farms with an abundance of water, with numerous underground springs spread across the length and breadth of the property. The word Emtonjeni means "at the springs" in Zulu, and this suite takes its name from its proximity to the swimming pool, and the springs. "The Springs" was also the name of the farm in East Griqualand on which Pat Goss snr founded his renowned racehorse breeding enterprise in the 1930's.
This suite fronts onto an old bathing pavilion (now the Wellness Centre), which dates back to the foundation of the Manor House, in 1875. The Moors, who were the first occupants of Hartford as we know it, initiated a habit of giving to each other, a plant or a piece of garden statuary or ornamentation on wedding anniversaries, and the bathing pavillion was one of the first of these. Since then, the Ellises and the Gosses have perpetuated this rather quaint habit, and most of what you see in the garden today came about as a result.
Emanzini Suite 11
We are blessed on our farms with an abundance of water, with numerous underground springs spread across the length and breadth of the property. The word Emanzini means "at the waterside" in Zulu, and this suite takes its name from its proximity to the swimming pool, the Wellness Centre and the springs. "The Springs" was also the name of the farm in East Griqualand on which Pat Goss Snr founded his renowned racehorse breeding enterprise in the 1930's.
Emanzini was one of the first exercises in building with bricks and mortar for our previously unskilled Zulus, who in our opinion, made an excellent job of what seemed like an impossible task when we first set out.
This suite fronts onto the old wisteria pergola, which dates back to the foundation of the Manor House, in 1875. The Moors, who were the first occupants of Hartford as we know it, initiated a habit of giving to each other a plant or a piece of garden statuary or ornamentation on wedding anniversaries, and the pergola was one of the first of these. Since then, the Ellises and the Gosses have perpetuated this rather quaint habit, and most of what you see in the garden today came about as a result.
Hartford House St Pauls Suite 5
(Photos : Sally Chance)
St Pauls Suite 5
Named for St Paul's Cathedral in London shortly after the Battle of Britain, the diminutive equine version, St Pauls, remains the smallest winner of Africa's most famous horserace, the Durban July Handicap. He was the property of Pat Goss snr, grandfather of Mick Goss, whose family is the current custodian of Hartford House and its rich legacy.
St Pauls remains etched in the memory of many South African racing fans, winning the 50th edition of this grand event in 1946 from the outside draw in record time, and his exploits lent impetus to the development by Pat Goss of his well known private breeding establishment at The Springs in East Griqualand. St Pauls was the first of several Durban July Handicap winners produced by the Goss and Ellis families (the latter the founder of a storied racing and breeding enterprise of the 40's, 50's and 60's), their involvement with Thoroughbreds dating back to the 1930's.
Hartford House Ellis Suite 4
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Ellis Suite 4
This suite is named for the Ellis family, who occupied the Hartford property from 1939 to 1990, when they exchanged the property with the Goss family for their home in Hillcrest near Durban. Raymond Ellis snr. was a property developer in Durban, and owned much of what is now known as Durban North. He was also a prominent hotelier, remembered for his proprietorship of the Fairhaven and Rydal Mount Hotels on Durban's Golden Mile, as well as being the founder of what is today South Africa's biggest brick-making business, Corobrick. Hartford was the Ellis country retreat, and they started breeding racehorses here in 1941.
The racing achievements of the Ellises, who proceeded to develop one of the greatest racehorse-breeding dynasties in history, were described by the famous author Sir Mordaunt Milner as ranking alongside those of Lord Derby, the Aga Khan, Coolmore and the Sheikhs Maktoum in the United Kingdom, Marcel Boussac in France, Senor Tesio in Italy, the Hancocks and the Phippses in the United States, and the Inghams in Australia.
From these historic pastures, they bred, raised and trained the winners of every major race on the South African racing calendar, and in their era, they were indomitable.
Once the sleeping quarters of Mick and Cheryl Goss' daughter Bronwyn, in more recent times, Ellis has accommodated 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.
Its artworks include an example by one of the greatest of South African artists, the late Errol Boyley, who is remembered here by the painting of a horse and his groom after a thunderstorm at Summerhill Stud (the main farm). Errol, who was a great friend of Summerhill and Hartford, has several other major works adorning the walls of the manor house.
This suite is often reserved by travellers who knew Hartford while it was still a private home, and its popularity has survived the subtle but extensive developmental changes to the other accommodation which have taken place at Hartford in the past decade, aimed at the increasing comfort of our treasured guests.
Jackie Cameron, Zandile Mchunu, Deli Nene, Zinthle Majola and the Hartford House Kitchen Team
(Photo : Cooked in Africa)
Jackie Cameron has racked up more accolades in the past few years than A.P. Arrow earned in the way of Voyager Miles as a racehorse, and they still keep pouring in. The latest came from one of the country's most revered critics, Anne Stevens, and it couldn't have been more complimentary. This time though, it wasn't only about food, but about Jackie's educational capabilities and her championing the cause of our disadvantaged community.
The kitchen at Hartford House near Mooi River is not all about five-star luxury. It's an inspirational setting that has transformed the lives of three women beyond their dreams.
And the person they have to thank the most is Jackie Cameron, the country house's executive chef and their mentor.
Zandile Mchunu, Deli Nene and Zinthle Majola have become valuable assets to a young woman who is widely regarded as one of the top in her field in South Africa, preparing innovative and exciting food that crosses boundaries.
Jackie, still in her late 20's, has risen to the top of her profession like, well, cream on milk.
Her credo is simple : "Be honest and true in everything you do, cook with love and your food will love you in return."
Hartford's kitchen team is made up of women, but, as Jackie says, this was purely by chance - other than that women are happier living in the country than male chefs who crave the bright lights.
Chef de partie Zandile: "My earliest memories are of making mieliepap with my mother. I loved those special occasions when she made curry and rice. I was always fascinated by how food can emphasise happy or sad moments in the life of a family."
She started work in the scullery at Hartford, but Jackie noticed how much she enjoyed cooking and she has risen through the ranks.
Last year Zandile attended the South African Food and Wine week at the World Expo in Shanghai with Jackie.
"Our cooking adventure started with a desperate cry: 'Chef, I have broken my arm.'" says Jackie. "We had been in Shanghai for exactly an hour and there was Zandile with a fractured wrist. But the one-armed chef did a remarkable job. Her perseverance was admirable and a lesson in commitment. Our traditional samp and beans, pap 'n vleis, bobotie and Durban bunny chow featured on the menu we had created. They went down well, and we were proudly South African."
Deli is a third-generation member of the Mooi River community, starting work in 1995 as a hand in the horse division at Summerhill Stud farm, which, like Hartford, is owned by the Goss family.
She then worked as a domestic for 10 years, but her love of food eventually took centre stage.
"I grew up cooking with my mom and I always enjoyed it. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a chef or cook, but didn't have the money to study. This was why I started working on the farm. As a domestic I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a quick cooking course. This fuelled my wish to work in the Hartford kitchen. So I decided to see if I could get a temporary job in Jackie's kitchen on my weekends off. Bit by bit I worked my way in. This was my long-term plan. It took 10 years to finally get a permanent job at Hartford."
"Her culinary talent, leadership, ability, teaching skills and enthusiasm have been inspiring to watch. She knows no limits," say Jackie.
Deli was selected by Unilever as one of its Inspiring Chefs for 2010/2011.
Zinthle's mother, Helen, worked for Jackie in the scullery for six years.
"When Helen's mother fell ill she had to return home and look after the family," says Jackie. "I got no explanation as to what was going on, but one day a little Zulu woman appeared in my scullery - Helen's daughter, Zinthle. I remember one night saying, why are you here? Where is your mother? I found it very strange. But Zinthle got stuck in and very soon proved her worth. After having worked only 11 months in the scullery I promoted her to kitchen assistant. She now takes full control of the extensive breakfast menu at Hartford and controls all the daily baking. Very impressive, and such a joy and pleasure to work with."
Ezulweni Lake Suites, Hartford House
(Photo : Felicity Hayward)
EXTRACT FROM THE CAPE TIMES : TRAVEL
The Gosses, owners of Hartford House, humbly refer to themselves as "custodians of one of Africa's most treasured legacies". General Botha assumed command of the Boer forces here in 1899, and it was also home to the family of Sir Frederick Moor, the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal.
The deputy prime minister, Colonel Richards, established the world-renowned Summerhill Stud on the property, which today hosts stallions for the Rulers of Dubai. Aside from all this history, the Gosses also rightly revel in the beauty of this spectacular place... and so will you.
Spread across seemingly endless landscaped garden, the 14 rooms have been decorated with dark wood antiques from India and West Africa. Scraping my jaw off the floor, I surveyed the four lakeside suites which are nothing short of spectacular. I was especially taken with the aptly-named Siyabonga Suite ("thank you" in isiZulu) with its twin egg baths and private pool. The beaded chair, the wooden cow heads on the wall and the building materials are all locally sourced.
An emperor-sized round bed dominates the Inkanyezi Suite, while the Nhlanhla Suite ("good luck") combines Burmese antiques with bold green and rich red furnishings and a bright copper bath glints in the bathroom. Made entirely out of hay bales, this amazing example of sustainable luxury accommodation is so close to the lake it is practically floating.
Oh, and by the way, the restaurant I dined in (after my Swedish massage) was in the top 10 at the 2009 Dine Awards. Just go.
Rooms : 15 - four lakeside suites all king with bath and wet room; four garden/pool suites all with bath and shower; three standard kings with bath and shower and three twins with bath and shower.
Prices : R840 - R1555. Meals : Full three-course breakfast included. A la carte lunch and five-course set dinner.
OF FINE COMPANY AND FINE FISHING
We’ve had a great time of it in recent weeks at Hartford, and we’re always flattered by the visits of people who travel thousands of miles to see us. Not only do they add to the tapestry of our life experiences, but they’re the reason we exist. You see, to serve is a matter of dignity for those of us who live here, and through their visits, our guests provide us with the opportunity to express our pleasure at having them here.
Though Hartford has become a “must do it” for a good number of our self-respecting countrymen, most of our traffic at this time of the year comes from across the world, mainly the northern hemisphere.
At dinner last evening, in a dining room of twenty-odd, we were just four locals, with the rest from Ireland, France, England and the United States. And what a company they were. We felt we’d known them for years, and by the end of lunch in the stud office the following day, there was something of a “raucous caucus” at the boardroom table.
While he was with us, Paul Helmbold gave the lie to those who claimed in recent days that there were no fish in the Hartford lakes with a haul of five fish over 2.5 pounds, while his wife Rachel, gifted horsewoman that she is, couldn’t resist the temptation of teaching the Goss grandchildren the disciplines of good horsemanship.
Our lives are built on memories of these visits, and we hope, whenever our guests pass this way, they’ll feel they’ve done the same.