Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

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Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby fbvanouds » 23 Aug 2014 06:57

Hallo
I’m a newbie who recently joint this forum. I am looking for information (maps by the Royal Engineers, etc.) on a fortified farm, Rietfontein.

Rietfontein is one of the almost perfectly preserved fortified farms left in the Eastern Cape. The farm lies almost as if was the day the buildings was completed.

The farm is situated in the Fort Beaufort district, 20 km S. S West of the town, on the Gardness Drift road. This is the Koonap Field Cornetcy, or as it was originally called, The Konappe.

Arrowsmith’s map (1851) has an old fort marked, more or less where Rietfontein is situated. In some old document, the farm is also referred to as Fort Riet-Fontein.

Rietfontein was strategically located. From Grahamstown to Hermanus Kraal (Fort Brown), the distance was 40 km (one day’s drive with an ox wagon). Another 40 km brought you to Rietfontein, with Fort Beaufort 32 km further on.
The Grahamstown – Fort Beaufort road crossed Rietfontein up till the completion of the Victoria Bridge and Queens Road in 1841.

After visiting Rietfontein, it should be clear that the farm could have been nothing less than a well fortified outpost, with troops, linking the important military headquarters of Grahamstown with the hinterland forts.
Attachments
RietfonteinGrootboom 1925.jpg
RietfonteinGrootboom 1925.jpg (130.52 KiB) Viewed 1821 times
Waterkamer 01.jpg
Waterkamer 01.jpg (184.35 KiB) Viewed 1821 times
Rietfontein 1982 Hatting.jpg
Watercolour painting of Rietfontein 1982
Rietfontein 1982 Hatting.jpg (189.35 KiB) Viewed 1821 times
Rietfontein 1899.jpg
Pen portrait of Rietfontein 1899
Rietfontein 1899.jpg (124.75 KiB) Viewed 1821 times
Rietfontein 1960.jpg
Aerial view of Rietfontein - 1960
Rietfontein 1960.jpg (211.39 KiB) Viewed 1822 times
Last edited by fbvanouds on 24 Aug 2014 06:37, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby Brett Hendey » 23 Aug 2014 07:13

I cannot help with your enquiry, but I was very interested to learn about the existence of Rietfontein fort/farmhouse. Is it a National Monument and therefore under some legal protection? Do you have photographs that you could post on this forum?

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Brett
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby SWB » 23 Aug 2014 07:43

Have you contacted the RE Museum & Library?
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby fbvanouds » 23 Aug 2014 08:03

Hi Brett!
No, sadly it is not a National Monument and therefore not under legal protection. It is one of the last well preserved fortified farmhouses in the Fort Beaufort district.

Yes, I have photographs of Rietfontein as well as photo’s of historical Fort Beaufort that I would love to post. I have tried to post it, but get the message that I am not authorised to do that.
Anton.
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby Brett Hendey » 25 Aug 2014 10:53

Hi Anton

Thank you for adding the pics. It is a most impressive farm. I hope it is not threatened by a land claim. I do not know how effective heritage legislation is in the new South Africa, so we can but hope for the best.

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Brett
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Aug 2014 18:21

fbvanouds wrote:Hi Brett!
No, sadly it is not a National Monument and therefore not under legal protection. It is one of the last well preserved fortified farmhouses in the Fort Beaufort district.

Yes, I have photographs of Rietfontein as well as photo’s of historical Fort Beaufort that I would love to post. I have tried to post it, but get the message that I am not authorised to do that.
Anton.


I believe that your best course of action today is that suggested by forum member SWB above, which is to contact the Royal Engineers Museum and Library. Their records are unparalleled.

This is the link to their website: http://www.re-museum.co.uk/

And here some background: http://www.armymuseums.org.uk/museums/0 ... rchive.htm
sq
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby Keith Smith » 17 Sep 2014 01:01

Hi

I would just like to mention the farm Sipton Manor, which is located about eight kilometres west of Fort Beaufort on the Adelaide Road (R63). This is a description of the place from my book Harry Smith's Last Throw, p. 77:

William Gilbert's farm, ‘Sipton Manor’, was well known for the excellence of its defences – its original plans had in fact been published by the authorities as a model of what a fortified farm should be like. The house and a hectare of ground were enclosed by a high rectangular wall with a tower in one side on which was mounted a swivelled, two-pound cannon. Inside the wall there was a spring of good water for the house and stock, and a fruit and vegetable garden. There was also a stone house filled with a year's provisions, including forty sacks of potatoes and ten sacks of onions. The enclosed area provided enough space for the Gilberts’ remaining span of oxen and five hundred sheep, the rest of their stock having been sent to Port Elizabeth for safety. Gilbert was obviously a man of foresight and he had made Sipton Manor virtually unassailable against Xhosa attack by training a staff of faithful Khoikhoi to man the defences; he and his wife were determined to stay.


This information is drawn from the diary of Sarah Ralph, a copy of which might be found in the Fort Beaufort Museum, but will definitely be found in the Cory Library at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

For those who might be interested, I would be happy to email copies of several photographs of the farm taken several years ago as part of my research for the book, and the Eighth Frontier War of 1850-1853. Please send me a private message with your email address and I will send the photo images to you.

KIS
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Re: Fortified Farms - Cape Frontier Wars: Rietfontein

Postby fbvanouds » 18 Sep 2014 20:36

Thanks all. I contacted The Royal Engineers Museum but they have no records or any maps directly pertaining to Rietfontein. I will try the National Archives in Kew.

Anton
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