KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsCoedmore Castle
Where? 90 Coedmore Avenue, Yellowwood Park, Durban
How? Call +27 (0)83 419-6428
Dubbed Durban's "castle lite", Coedmore Castle is a beautiful historic homestead, built in 1875 and situated right in the centre of the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve.
The old stone castle lies in amongst a series of giant yellowwood trees within the 253 hectare nature reserve in Yellowwood Park. It and the grounds, managed by Ezembelo KZN Wildlife, were donated by Kenneth Stainbank to the people of South Africa over 50 years ago.
The castle, despite being a home, has its own tower and battlements and often serves as the venue for weddings because of its romance. The grounds and the interior are in mint condition with much of the furniture, family portraits and antique silverware still intact.
The house was built by Kenneth Stainbank's father with the help of a couple of Scottish stone masons from stones from the nearby Umhlauzana River. It took three years to complete. The idea was to create a little piece of Europe, the surrounding grounds filled with antelope and monkeys.
Dering Stainbank was to marry a woman from Pietermaritzburg, who bore him seven children. The two eldest sons, killed in the first World War, Kenneth inherited the home. His daughter and her family live on the property today.
The home is open to the public for tours. The beautiful steel-pressed ceilings, wooden panelling and circular iron staircase into the tower are highlights. Many of the rooms also contain sculptures by the artist Mary Stainbank, Dering's daughter, who produced much of her work in a garden studio. Only years later was she credited with introducing the modern school of sculpture to South Africa.
Her work is now housed in a gallery in the restored cow shed, close to the site of her original studio. Known as the Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery, it also hosts other artists' exhibitions. Mary's works mean that the gallery houses the biggest, intact collective body of work by any one sculptor in the country.
One can visit the castle or join a tour for groups of 10 or over, which includes tea and scones in the grand dining room. But you will need to make an appointment.
There are 13 km of walking trails in the nature reserve and a 10 km MTB, as well as a picnic area.
Look out for the annual Carols at the Castle event close to Christmas.