A "Bucket-List" Venue
THE LEGEND THAT SURROUNDS WHISTLETREE MANOR
WHISTLETREE MANOR TELLS THE STORY OF THE LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN Lt. BROWN AND LADY SUMNERVILLE
During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1901) the British Army had their stables on his site. (See horseshoes on display in the front hall, which were dug out during building operations.) Lt. Brown was placed in charge of this outpost and he lived in a cottage on the premises. (See oil painting on the 1 st floor, rooms 1-3.) Not only was he a very capable man but also very handsome (See photographs in Room 10).
The general public in Britain heard of the bad treatment of their sons in the military camps. (Bully beef and biscuits) The influential Lord and Lady Sumnerville were commissioned to investigate this state of affairs. It seemed a good idea that Lady Sumnerville should come out to South Africa to gain firsthand experience of the situation and also to inspire the British troops.
Lady Sumnerville, a very beautiful lady, was much younger than her husband. (See oil portrait on balcony overlooking dining room as well as between room 11 & 12). She arrived in Pretoria from Cape Town on 18 October 1900. Lt. Brown was assigned to be her escort during her stay in the Transvaal Republic. It was love at first sight! From then onwards they often met secretly in Lt. Brown’s cottage.
Lady Sumnerville fell pregnant and immediately left for England. To her chagrin the news had leaked out and she received a cold welcome on her arrival. (See newspaper cuttings in regard to this social scandal on display in the front hall.) From these we learn that Lady Sumnerville was ostracized by high society and after her discrete divorce from Lord Sumnerville, she lost her title. Lt. Brown appealed to her to instantly return to South Africa and he started making arrangements for marriage. She booked herself on the ship as Mrs. D Brown (See kist in front hall).
Towards the end of the war, the so-called gentleman’s war was long over and guerilla warfare had started. Lt. Brown’s stables were attacked. He bravely attempted to defend his outpost, but during the skirmish he was killed. (His grave can be found in the old Pretoria cemetery). What disastrous news awaited his bride-to-be! Through the aid of Sammy Marks (an influential figure at that time and a personal friend of Paul Kruger, State President of the Zuid-Africhaanse Republic, both men with whom she was well acquainted, she then bought the site of the Whistletree Manor and she settled in the cottage where she and Lt. Brown had often met.