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European Settlement
(page 3)
Simon van der Stel
Forty years old, well educated, widely travelled and related by marriage to a director of the VOC, Simon van der Stel quickly developed ambitious plans for the expansion of a colony when he arrived in 1679.

Survey teams and geologists were sent out and he surveyed for himself the fertile mountain slopes beyond the Cape Flats. One night he camped among bushes on an island in the Eerste River. He declared he would build a town along the stream, and name it after his night in the shrubs - 'Stellenbosch'.

The land around the town would be developed for farms, and especially wine making (wine was required for the ships). Each year he celebrated his birthday with festivities in the elegant, oak lined village he had founded, which is today an attractive town in the winelands. He latter developed farms and settlements at Paarl and Drakenstein on the Berg river.

In 1685 he established the magnificent Groot Constantia wine farm as a model to Dutch farmers. He was a cultured man, dismayed by the poor quality of wine production, and determined to teach the Boers (farmers) by example.

However, soon Simon discovered a better way to improve farming. When King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, providing religious tolerance in France, many Huguenot (protestant) refugees made their way to Holland. Van der Stel asked the VOC to provide passage to the Cape for any with experience of wine farming.

Roughly 200 were shipped over, increasing the population by a third. They were provided with limited supplies and sent out to establish farms, first to the region of Paarl and then to an elephant breeding ground called 'Oliphantshoek' that later became known as 'Franschhoek'. Van der Stel may be regarded as the father of the South African wine industry.

Simon also explored the Peninsula and named 'Simon's Bay' - a natural harbour in False Bay that was to be used extensively in years to come, and is today the major naval base of the SA Navy. A road was built from Constantia Nek connecting the colony to Hout Bay in 1693.

In Cape Town itself, Simon instituted a hospital in 1697. With so many sick sailors arriving at the Cape, and illness common in the town, it was designed for 225 patients and located in the quiet of the company gardens, which was designated a botanical garden as production shifted to the farms.
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Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:


The First Years

A Town Develops

Simon v.d. Stel

VOC Control

Frontier Expansion

Cape Town in the 1700s

Cosmopolitan Cape Town

The Boom of the 1780s

The VOC Legacy

Bibliography & Contacts


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