Walk the few kilometres from the Hermitage timber cottage at Heilfontein Country Escape into Tesselaarsdal and you will be struck by the huge variety of homes visible from the road. Some are ramshackle and crumbling, others modest but neat, and yet others grand, with imposing fences and impressive driveways.
One reason for this is the strange history of Tesselaarsdal, the Western Cape settlement described as “the place that apartheid forgot” in Annalize Mouton’s Tesselaarsdal: A Bend in the Road.
Heilfontein, which means ‘holy fountain’, is a portion of the original communal farm 811, purchased in 2014 by Lindsay Madden and Glynis Gillott. Madden points to the vast open spaces of the farm and says: “This is what Constantia was like when I was a child.”
The farm is just off the Hemel en Aarde Road, a 40-minute drive from Hermanus.
The original property of over 2 000ha was given to the slaves who worked the land, and in subsequent deals, it was carved up into pieces more akin to shattered glass than proper town planning. The history of this area (classified as a ‘human settlement’ rather than a village) is also the history of lives shattered by apartheid.
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