Franschhoek The Huguenots Museum Information

Farms & Development

Farms & Development

Development of the Town

Franschhoek is situated on parts of the Huguenot farms La Cotte and Cabrière. The first erven in the town were surveyed by R F Aling, and were part of the farm La Cotte which belonged to Jan Gysbert Hugo. The church grounds together with the chapel (built 1833) and the manse (built 1837) formed the nucleus of the village and the southern boundary. The wagon trail (later Victoria Street and currently known as Huguenot Road) formed the western boundary with the present De Wet Street on the north and the present Dirkie Uys Street on the east. Part of the eastern boundary was formed by the erf on which the house La Rive stands.

The prevailing architectural style of the town buildings alternates between the eclecticism of the late-Victorian period and the Cape Dutch Revival of the early 1900's. The Neo-Gothic style church (1847) is the oldest building in the town. The oldest buildings in the valley are to be found on farms.

The Mountain Pass

The early track used by travellers when crossing the mountain had been made by the elephants who originally inhabited the area. It was, however, very rough and practically impassable for wagons.

Governor Simon van der Stel was of the opinion that a gang of slaves could make a road, negotiable by wagons within a period of three months. It was actually 125 years later that S J Cats made the attempt and completed a reasonably passable road. The landsurveyor was W F Herzog and the road became known as Cats se Pad. The way was narrow and heavily-laden wagons found it difficult to negotiate.

Cats se Pad was in use until 1825 when Lord Charles Somerset used 150 soldiers of the Royal Africa Corps in transit to Sierra Leone, to build a new road. The biggest change occured at Jan Joubertsgat (so called because Jan Joubert died there) where a stone bridge was built over the ford. Today this is the oldest bridge in the country still in use.

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