Constantia is one of Cape Town’s most beautiful areas, known for its plush greenery and fine wines. Did you know, according to SA History, Constantia is one of Cape Town’s oldest townships?
Here is the history of this beautiful place:
During the Dutch conquest of Sumatra in 1662, Sheik Abdurachman Matebe Shah and his compatriot Sheikh Mahmoud were exiled to Constantia by the Dutch. Sheik Abdurachman is viewed by many as one of the first people to bring the religion of Islam to South Africa. The Klein Constantia estate is believed to be built on the site that Sheik Abdurachman died at.
The Groot Constantia estate was established by Simon Van De Stel in 1685. Van Der Stel was the Governor of the Cape at the time, and the area was noted for its particularly sweet dessert wine varietals. Some of the area’s oldest wine farms include Steenberg, Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig.
Under the ownership of the Cloete family between 1779 – 1885, the Groot Constantia estate became well known for its production of dessert wine, known as Constantia Wyn. This sweet wine, which gets a mention in the works of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, fetched high prices at European auctions. While in exile, Napoleon had 30 bottles of the stuff shipped to St Helena every month.
Approximately 220 slaves worked in Constantia over a 150 year period, and planted the land with vineyards, olive and fruit trees. According to SA History, after a period of emancipation it is believed that they settled in the area nonetheless.
Constantia is still regarded by many as a rural area of wine estates, and during the 1960s, farmers were known to live in the areas of Strawberry Lane, Sillery Road, Spaanschemat River Road and Ladies Mile Road.
The brother of Princess Diana, Charles Spencer, lived in Constantia along with the brother of Margaret Thatcher, Mark.
Thatcher’s home is now in the possession of the Sahara Group, while Spencer’s home is for sale for R80-million.
Picture: SA History