A Blend of Nature, History and Culture at King’s Grant
Located in the picturesque region of Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, King’s Grant is a haven of nature, history and culture, offering visitors a tranquil retreat from the frantic pace of modern life. Surrounded by fertile farmlands, water-filled dams, wetlands and bushveld, the varied habitats of King’s Grant are home to a host of diverse birdlife, while its historical buildings lend an old-world charm.
For more than a hundred years, the farm on which King’s Grant is situated belonged to the Trappist order of the Roman Catholic Church, and many of the red-bricked buildings erected by this religious order remain intact. The chapel with its steeple-topped bell-tower, complete with Bavarian bell, and stained-glass windows is a distinctive feature of King’s Grant. The farm, which was named St Isidore after the patron saint of agriculture, used to provide produce for the two-hundred or so men who would be preparing for priesthood at the nearby St Mary’s Seminary. When occupied by the monks, the farm had a dairy, barns, a water-driven millstone and even its own brickworks.
In addition to the essential food gardens of St Isidore, the resident nuns created a beautiful rose and herb garden, which became overgrown as the property fell into disuse. Bought from the church in 1996 by Cheryl and David Biggs, they have revived and rejuvenated the gardens, with the Chapel Garden featuring the original Queen Elizabeth tea roses nurtured back to health after years of neglect. Red clay bricks from buildings that could not be repaired have been used to make pathways in the garden, and fragrant herbs and colorful flowers attract clouds of butterflies in the summer months. The Courtyard Garden has Tuscan elements to it with terracotta pots and window boxes planted with colorful geraniums, herbs and citrus, while a three-tiered fountain adds a classical touch. Moving away from the buildings of King’s Grant with their classical, European-style landscaping, visitors will come across gardens inspired by the indigenous plants of South Africa, with aloes, succulents and strelitzias offering color and form.
King’s Grant originally belonged to the descendants of the legendary Dick King before the monks purchased it in 1891. His epic journey from the coastal settlement we now know as the city of Durban to the Eastern Cape settlement of Grahamstown in 1842, to warn the British troops of the Boer siege of Port Natal, made him a hero and an important figure in South African History. The farm was awarded by the authorities to his family soon after his death, and the name King’s Grant honors this historical tie.