An introduction to the man-made landscape at the Cape from the 17th to the 19th centuries

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis investigates the urban and rural landscapes created at the Cape from the 17th to the 19th centuries, by the examination of drawings filed with transfers in the Deeds Office and plans in the Surveyor-General's Office, and relating them to landowners by further genealogical and archival research. Attention is drawn to the importance of recording the different elements and the overlay of the materials of vertical structures (what could be called their vertical archaeology), by those working on old buildings. Such analyses as have been done during thirty years of practical involvement with restoration, recycling and conservation projects, have indicated that different mortars used before and after the 18th century, may be of assistance in the broad dating of Cape buildings. This finding served as a guide to the recognition of planned patterns of landscape elements. This research indicates that official Dutch policy set the precedent for ordered geometrical planning in the 17th century at the Cape and that this trend remained virtually unchanged to- the end of the 19th century, especially in the rural landscape. It is shown that townscapes and individual urban properties were influenced by styles and new plants introduced by the arrival of British settlers from 1806 onwards, but that these changes remained within the confines of geometrical lay-outs where these existed, to the end of the 19th century. With a few notable exceptions, a lack of water and wealth prevented the development of large private or official pleasure grounds. On the other hand official sanctioning and aid to botanical gardens from the 4th decade of the 19th century, first in Cape Town and then in towns throughout the colony, introduced new trees, crops, and interest in horticultural activities. But communication with the wider botanical world stimulated an interest in rare Cape plants, which lead to plant gathering on a scale so vast that many are now endangered species. Because of. the wide field covered, the research is regarded as an introduction to the subject, to be taken further by future researchers.

Please note that pages 889,890:893 to 898 are missing.