Explore the Lindfield Victorian House Museum and surroundings and
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The stories that lived (and still live) within the walls of Lindfield Victorian House Museum tell a tale of Johannesburg during an era that, more than any other, shaped urban Johannesburg today: the day-to-day family life and fashion trends, masters and servants, high culture and intellectual achievements. The spirit of this era lives on in the Lindfield Victorian House Museum and visitors not only learn its cultural history, but also experience the ambience of a bygone world.
Lindfield is a Provincial Heritage Site. Originally called Grey Roofs, the original small cottage was designed by Herbert Baker. Baker dominated the architectural scene in South Africa from his arrival in the Cape (1892) until his return to England in 1912.
The house was originally built (circa 1910) for Dr. St John Stanwell and his wife Alice. In 1924, A.J. Marshall (Sir Baker's Clerk of Works), made changes to the house and in 1933, Nellie Edwards (Johannesburg's first female architect and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts), added additional rooms.
Katharine's grandmother originally bought the house and Katharine and her mother, Katharine McGill Love (nee Viljoen), moved in during 1967. When her mother passed away in 1996, Katherine opened the house as a Victorian museum, proudly displaying a vast collection of 19th and 20th century furniture, art, decorative and utilitarian objects representative of the entire Victorian and Edwardian periods.
The majority of rooms are open to the public, including all the principal Reception rooms, the ladies drawing room, gentleman's library, music room as well as the formal dining room, bedrooms, children's dining room and nursery, bathrooms, pantry and kitchen - in total 18 rooms.
Auckland Park was proclaimed in 1888 and developed by a New Zealander, John Landau. He saw great similarities to the countryside near his New Zealand home town, Auckland - hence the name.
Auckland Park housed some of Johannesburg's first professional residents. At the turn of the 20th century, Auckland Park was literally ‘in the country’ relative to the Johannesburg city centre. Victorian gentry who had made South Africa their home would have had weekend get-aways in the area. The original site offered a boating lake and hotel, located where the Johannesburg Country Club is today, as well as a horse-racing track, where the University of Johannesburg (formerly RAU) is situated.
Anna Smith in 'Johannesburg Street Names' informs us that the suburb was always known for its bluegums, planted by JH hardy in 1888, when he built the first house here. Some of the offspring of those bluegums can still be seen today, alongside London plane trees. In Richmond Avenue a venerable oak tree stands, planted from an acorn by Bill Wilson, whose father brought back the seed from Delville Wood after service there in WW1.
A living museum
Katharine's maternal grandmother, a retired school teacher, originally bought the present house. Katharine and her mother, Katharine McGill Love moved into the 22-room house in 1967. Interestingly, Katharine was born only a block away. Katharine's father, Aubrey Clarence Love, died in 1968, her mother, in 1996.