Until recently, the now-closed moyo restaurant used the space, and the grounds and buildings are in need of basic repairs. Once this work has been done, further permission will be sought to enable Spier to realise its vision of transforming the space into one that is both relevant and sensitive to its historical uses – reconnecting the Werf to its past so that it once more becomes a hub of activity, where agriculture, artisan food and creativity find expression.
“We’re excited about the prospect of visitors to our restaurants and picnickers being able to laze once again on the Werf’s lawns under the ancient oak trees, enjoying views of the historical buildings which surround them,” says Andrew Milne, CEO of Spier.
THE FIRST STEPS
A permit is required from HWC for changes made to structures older than 60 years. The permit application envisages work on two structures. The first is the Jonkershuis, which is made up of three buildings. The first is believed to have been the living quarters of the eldest son, farm manager or widowed mother of Albertus Myburgh who built it in 1778. Research by archaeologist Hennie Vos suggests that the second structure, built in 1817, was an outbuilding used for storage and for keeping animals. The third building is an extension built in the late 20th century.
The second structure requiring changes is thought to have been the Old Slave Quarters built by the Van der Byl family in 1812. For several decades it was the home of the Spier Café before becoming moyo.
The remedial work on the two buildings involves lime-plastering damaged sections as well as painting the walls with limewash – both techniques used at the time of the buildings’ construction. Specialists will be conducting extensive restoration of timber work (including ceilings, windows, frames and doors).
On the Werf itself, fast-growing alien hedges are being removed, as will concrete beds, gravel and some sections of paving that formed part of the outdoor restaurant. Grass will be planted and maintenance will be done to the area’s historic trees.
Other historic structures surrounding the Werf are the Old Cowhouse (which has a gable dated 1773) and the Manor House, built in 1822.
The Werf's old rose garden is being transformed into a kitchen garden with herbs, fruit and vegetables which will be used by Eight restaurant. Beds are being dug and irrigation is currently being installed; the first planting will be by the end of November. The plants are being grown according to organic principles — without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers.
Once work on the Jonkershuis has been completed, antique specialist and furniture maker Allan Lutge will be installing a pop-up shop in the space. His beautiful tables and chairs, lovingly made with reclaimed antique wood, will serve as the furniture for the Jonkershuis's pop-up wine bar. Outside, Eight restaurant will be serving up meat from the braai and making pizzas in a mobile pizza oven on busy days.
In early 2015, the Jonkershuis will also become home to a new exhibition of work by artist Liza Grobler.