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House Searle - Highlands
Wynberg, Western Cape

Sir Herbert BAKER: Architect 1901
Date:1875 : 1901


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33°58'38.47" S 18°32'04.08" E Alt: 21m

On the 13th March 1875 Walter Searle and his friend Henry (later Lord) de Villiers bought adjoining pieces of land in an area that was one part of the huge Stellenberg farm owned by Willem Adriaan van der Stel. Henry built the beautifully fashionable Wynberg House – now sadly demolished – while Walter opted for a more sturdy looking single building with large gables and broad, thick thatched roof.

At the age of 64 and in ill health, Walter Searle returned to Cambridge, England. His 2 sons inherited Highlands. Malcolm William bought out his elder brother and took up residence in Highlands with his new bride Emma Jane (Jenny) St Ledger.

Alongside his thriving practice at the Bar, Malcolm and Jenny Searle found much time to travel, only settling and starting a family 10 years later. When in 1899 their baby’s nurse smelt smoke and sounded the alarm, it was too late; fanned by the blustery South-Easter the fire quickly spread to the thatch and Highlands was burnt to the ground.

A friend of the family, Herbert Baker, began drawing up plans for a new home, positioning it on the sound foundation and remaining stoep of the old house. Initially the architect explored reconstructing the previous structure, perhaps on the Searles’ instructions. In any effect the plans for the new building were approved by the Wynberg Council in December 1899 and the construction of Herbert Baker’s Highlands began.

(Extracted from Highlands Country House. Accessed 2020 08 27)

These notes were last edited on 2020 08 27