History in the making
Never before had I been excited to stop in the middle of nowhere in the Free State. Cue Prynnsberg Estate, a glorious old 1881 manor house and lodge conveniently situated just back from the scenic R 26 between Fiksberg and Clocolan. There’s nothing better than discovering an old gem in a pretty setting, which is being restored to its former glory.
Classical of architecture and stylish of interior, I chose to stay in Aran, the Gamekeeper’s Lodge situated on a high hill beyond the original manor house. An original sandstone building typical of this area, I was worried by the name that the cottage would be dark and pokey, but this Lodge is as spacious and light as it is cosy, with a large open-plan lounge-kitchen-dining area with a fireplace and comfortable couches. The Lodge has been recently renovated to a high standard, but in keeping with the original period style. There are two bedrooms each with lovely white linen and traditional furniture, a luxurious sparkling bathroom complete with black-and-white checked tile floors and a ball and claw bath. A long veranda wraps around two sides of the building with an authentic ox-wagon decorating the wide front veranda. A pretty cherry blossom tree reminds one of the local fame of the region.
As I move further into the second half of life, I find that what I look for in accommodation has changed. Increasingly I appreciate artistic integrity, sensory experiences, quintessential local character, and classical heritage with a fresh twist. In short, I am in search of soulful encounters of the most authentic kind. This is what I find at Prynnsberg Manor and Aran the Gamekeeper’s Lodge.
I wake early and head out to the long veranda which wraps around the Lodge. The views below are vast, and the mist lifting off the wide plains enhances the sense of an ancient and untouched African landscape.
After a hearty English breakfast the host offers to give us a tour of the manor house itself. I become quite giddy trying to figure out how all the many rooms are laid out in the extensive building. The host expertly leads us to the grand finale – a genuine Victorian bath house, with 3 freestanding baths laid out alongside one another in a spacious original stone building. I can only imagine the interesting conversations which have been had over the decades in this room and I instantly begin plotting and scheming a reason to return with a large group of favourite friends to add our own experience to the history of this estate.