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: Sir Mordaunt Milner
Hartford House Alyssum Suite 9
(Photos : Sally Chance)
Alyssum Suite 9
Originally known as the Garden suite, Alyssum and its neighbour were the first attempt by our previously unskilled Zulus at building with bricks and mortar. A fine effort, we're sure you'll concede.
Now named Alyssum, for the flower of course, the name also remembers one of the greatest of all Hartford racehorses. Alyssum (the horse,) excelled against the best of his generation at distances ranging from five furlongs (the human equivalent of a 100 metres sprint at the Olympics) to ten furlongs (the equivalent of the mile to humans), which exemplified not only his versatility, but also his abiding class.
Alyssum was one of the mainstays of the famous Ellis string of the 1950's, when the Hartford colours swept all before them on the racetracks of South Africa. Indeed, in owner-breeder terms, the Ellises have no parallels in South African racing history, and it was the great thoroughbred author, Sir Mordaunt Milner, who described their achievements in the same breath as those of Lord Derby, the Aga Khan and the Sheikhs Maktoum in the United Kingdom, the great European breeders, Boussac and Tesio, and the famous American stables of Phipps and the Hancocks.
There was a time when their supremacy was such that if there was a horse in the green and black silks on its way to the post, it was as good as money in the bank!
The furnishings in these suites are drawn from such diverse places as India and Morocco, while the teak flooring was part of the original dining room in the fabled Edward Hotel on Durban's Golden Mile.
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.