swellendam history

Fit for Royalty

In the past, people wrote their names on the windows of their houses.  At 184 Voortrekker Road, the name of Henri Battenberg is engraved into the window-pane of the original house.

Jean Henri Battenberg arrived in Swellendam in the 1850’s.  The Battenbergs arrival in the Swellendam colony soon set the tongues of the town wagging.  They speculated that they were related to royalty. MER who lived next door for a while (which now forms part of the guest house), said that Henri was a gentleman of peculiar taste. Why did the Battenbergs live a humble secluded life in Swellendam?

There is one story that Henri Battenberg married a woman of a commoner Dutch descent, against the approval of his noble family.  His family disowned him and he emigrated to South Africa and settled here. He lived with his wife in the main road and quietly set about his business as a cabinetmaker.  His workmanship was well made and much of it is still in use today.

This was the story that was told to us when we purchased the guest house in 2013.  During the following years, a guest would stay over at the guest house with some info on the matter.  The Battenberg family was formerly a morganatic branch of the House of the Hesse-Darmstadt, rulers of the Grand Duchy of Hesse in Germany.  The first member was Julia Hauke. The name Battenberg was last used by her youngest son, Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg, who died childless in 1924. Most members of the family, residing in the United Kingdom, had renounced their German titles in 1917, due to rising anti-German sentiment among the British public during World War I, and changed their name to Mountbatten, an anglicised version of Battenberg. The name Battenberg refers to the town Battenberg, Hesse.

Jean Henri Battenberg had a son, Henry Battenberg.  Suspicions aroused when Prince Louis Alexander von Battenberg (later admiral of the fleet Louis Alexander Mountbatten) received the son of Jean Henri on his ship when it was at the port of Simonstad.  This Henry died in 1940 in the Johannesburg hospital without children and had a very fantastic career build entirely on the alleged royal relationship.

All this history and storytelling of royalty, makes one realize the history that is evolved in a heritage building.  If only these walls could talk and tell us more of those interesting times. How important is it not to protect this history and make it relive the modern times where things tend to become so artificial.  One would say if the House of Battenberg were fit for a prince, then all the more reason for us to enjoy it to our fullest.

Sources: Genealogie Online

Sources: Wikipedia

The Story of Us

We had a dream. As mother and daughter, we dreamt of sharing a business where we could relive our creativity and energy.  Together we share the same love for all things pretty. We easily get excited about a piece of fabric or a coat of fresh paint. My family is born and bred in Swellendam and the Overberg.  Therefor we share a love for our town and community. The beauty of the town and surroundings never fade.

In 2013 the opportunity came to us to hire the guest house. Started by the Belgian Elianthe Tier bood and then owned by the Stander family. My mother hired it at first and soon we purchased the guesthouse together, realizing that this might just be the business we dreamt of.  

Walt Disney said, "All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue it".

My mother is mostly the working machine behind it all and over the years she builds the business with hard work, dedication and long hours.  My father and mother, Cliff and Elize, make the perfect hosts who personally look after everything about the business. With only a few permanent staff helping out, they do most of the work themselves. Keeping it quality controlled and personal.

There were also a lot of trial and errors over the years. But one should never stop learning and therefore we still strive for perfection daily.  Trying our best to give the best value for money and make guests smile. This is the purest form of recognition for us. To have guests leaving and come back, make it all worthwhile.

In 2017 we purchased the house next door to form as part of Elianthe Boutique Guesthouse.  The two houses shared the same entrance. It was obvious that these two heritage houses should form as one. We started renovating. Getting past heritage committees and municipalities was not effortless.  With my husband a full-time farmer and with three very busy young children, it meant many late nights of planning and working. Then also the building process which is never uncomplicated. Luckily the house was well looked after with structures being strong and original wooden floors and beams.  On 15 December 2017 the builders left the site, with few more finishing touches needed to be done. On 19 December 2017 we moved three of the rooms' furniture in and planted the front garden all in one day! We started moving in and beginning of January 2018 the team finished the last part with guests booking in between.  It was crazy!

Meanwhile we also made a few changes to our brand, creating a new logo and image and changing our name to Elianthe Boutique Guesthouse. A new website had to be designed as well new marketing materials and photos.

And the dreams will continue! We have many plans, dreams, and ideas for the guest house in the following years (to our husbands' distress) and my two other sisters who is our sounding board and biggest fans. We are a close-knit family and this is why we also welcome other families to our guest house.

Here people enter as guests and leave as friends!

"Twenty years from now You will be more disappointed By the things you didn’t do.  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain