Western Cape Tourist AttractionsRust en Vreugd
Where? 78 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town Central, Cape Town.
Rust en Vreugd (rest and joy) is an ornate 1778 townhouse on the outer limits of Buitenkant Street (in an area that would have been on the 'outer edge' of Cape Town when it was built), generally considered the best example of 18th century urban architecture in the country.
Its attraction today for visitors is its architecture and beautiful period-style gardens, in which a gazebo often functions for events and weddings.
The house was built by a man described as the 'disreputable fiscal' Willem Cornelis Boers, on land given to him as a free burgher. It was an impressive house even back in 1778 with, what is described as, obvious Thibault influence (Louis Michel Thibault was employed by the Dutch East Indian Company as a Lieutenant of Engineers, but was very involved in designing classically styled private houses in the Cape in the late 1700s.)
The ornate, and beautiful baroque carvings of the balcony and doorways, however, are attributable to the sculptor Anton Anrieth, who arrived in the Cape as a soldier of the Dutch East India Company in 1777 (he is also considered responsible for the Lutheran Church, a national monument, in Strand Street).
Interestingly, the original intricate iron gates, wrought in Amsterdam, that stood at Rust en Vreugd's entrance on Buitenkant Street are now part of the chancel arch of St Michael's and All Angels in Penkridge, Staffordshire in England. The words 'Rust en Vreugd' and the date, 1778, remain inscribed in the gate, which must have many a congregant guessing as to its origin.
The three-storey townhouse often hosts contemporary South African art exhibitions and hires out its rooms for events and functions.
The William Fehr Art on Paper Collection hangs at Rust en Vreugd and includes drawings, etchings, lithographs, prints and watercolours. Because paper is so sensitive, few of the works are actually exhibited, but it is, nonetheless, a vital collection, representing the life and times of early Cape Town.
William Fehr (1892-1968) was a private art collector whose works grace both the the Castle of Good Hope and Rust en Vreugd.
The history of Rust en Vreugd is interesting. It served as a residence, as a teachers' training college, and a high school before it was declared a heritage site in 1940. Once William Fehr's collection was acquired by the government, the house was converted into a gallery.