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Old Wynberg

Old Wynberg Village

Cape Town - South Africa



The Maynard Family

James Maynard
James Maynard

Levi and Sarah Maynard, originally from Huntingdonshire, arrived in the Cape Colony on 1 May 1820. Their son, James Mortimer Maynard established himself as a well-known bachelor with substantial assets by the time he settled in Wynberg. In 1838, James took over the farm of Rozendal from an insolvent widow Ellert, to whom he had advanced money as a morgage on her property. He later bought another property from the same widow to make up the site for his home, Maynard's Villa.

James continued advancing money for loans and morgages and reinvesting his profits in property. He derived a considerable income from his tenants and he was soon recognised as one of Cape Town's premier landlords with political and economical power.

At the age of forty-six he married the widow of Charles Napier. James Maynard died on 9 September 1874. As he failed to produce an heir, his estate went to his nephew, William Mortimer Maynard Farmer.

The Next Generation

William Farmer, already an established business man by the time he inherited his uncle's estate, rebuild the house, joining the two houses to form a large home suitable for lavish entertainment. The gardens were created by Robert Bain, who were trained at Kew Gardens. As a director of the Union Castle Company, Farmer entertained many influential public figures at Maynardville, thus getting greater support in his political carreer as member of parliament and local government.

William Farmer married the daughter of major Richard Wolfe, then resident magistrate and civil commissioner of Wynberg. Their daughter Enid, married John Bernard, a major in the Royal Marines and had two sons, Gerald and Brain. The homestead was demolished in 1954 after Gerald sold Maynardville to the City Council of Cape Town.

Napoleon fascination

In 1841, the remains of Napoleon was exhumed from his grave on St Helena and moved to Dôme des Invalides in Paris. James Maynard then bought the gates that guarded the St Helena tomb and had them shipped to Cape Town to be placed at the driveway to his estate. The Willow grove at Maynardville were cultivated from cuttings taken from the trees surrounding the tomb.

The gates remained at Maynardville for 100 years, after which they were returned St Helena to be restored to the original site.

Maynardville Today

An open-air theatre was first founded in Maynardville Park on 1 December 1950, when a mixed Committee from both Wynberg and Athlone opened it with a performance of the ballet, "Les Sylphides". This was to raise funds for schools in underprivileged areas of Cape Town. Two Cape Town actresses, Cecilia Sonenberg and René Ahrenson, took the open-air theatre to another level entirely, when they were invited by the Committee to lead Shakespearean performances there.

Entrance to Maynardville

Leslie French from Regents Park Open-air Theatre in London was brought to Wynberg to produce the first production in the Maynardville Open-air Theatre. "The Taming of the Shrew" opened on 29 January 1956. Many Shakespeare productions have since been performed here.

Maynardville Open-air Theatre is situated on the corner of Church and Wolfe Streets. Bookings for shows can be made through Computicket.

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