Bathurst, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Agent: Cliff Jacobs - Managing Principal Estate Agent & CEO (Nat.Dpl.Hotel Man (UJ). M.P.R.E.)
Agent Cellphone: +27 (0) 84 413 1071 / +27 (0) 61 716 6951
Agent Office Number: +27 (0) 21 554 0283
Agent Email Address: email@example.com
Type: Heritage Inn
Yield: Not Disclosed
Bathurst, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Bathurst is about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) inland from Port Alfred, on the R67 road, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, and is named after Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies by Sir Rufane Donkin. Its chief claim to fame is that it was the early administrative centre established by the British Government for the 1820 British Settlers who were sent to the district as a buffer between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa pastoralists who were migrating southwards and westwards along the coast. Bathurst is now part of the Ndlambe Local Municipality in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality of the Eastern Cape.
Many of the original settler houses and other buildings have been preserved, and there remains much of the look and feel of an English village of the early 19th century. The Inn, at the heart of the village, is reputedly the oldest extant pub in the country, built in 1821 by Thomas Hartley, a blacksmith who came from Nottinghamshire with the settlers. After accommodation was added to the pub, it became known as the Bathurst Inn.
While time has moved slowly in Bathurst, there is an increasing population of artists, those seeking a more peaceful lifestyle, academics (Rhodes University is only 40 kilometres (25 mi) away), and retirees.
One of the award-winning artists in the area is ceramist Richard Pullen, who grew up in Bathurst. He established his successful ceramics studio in 1998. Visitors are free to visit his studio, see the artist at work and interact with him.
Bathurst hosts a pineapple museum whose building is shaped like a 17 metres (56 ft) tall pineapple. The museum is in the agricultural town of Bathurst, a town known as pineapple country, on a pineapple farm known as Summerhill Pineapple Farm, an 1820 Settlers farm. In 1833, John Hawkins, who was a founder member of the Bathurst Agricultural Society, purchased the farm for 2,000 pounds. He was also one of the first farmers to plant pineapples. The Big Pineapple represents the region's pineapple industry. The settlers who arrived in the 1820s struggled to grow crops until the first pineapple was planted in 1865. The gigantic structure is a tribute to their agricultural success. It was planned to be constructed by the members of Bathurst's agricultural community in the 1980s. Construction for the structure actually began in 1990 and lasted for over 12 months. The structure was built with the intention of giving more exposure to the local pineapple industry. The Bathurst area delivers over 135 000 tons annually to factories in East London. Although it is mostly a copy of the Big Pineapple located in Queensland, Australia, the Big Pineapple in Bathurst is taller by just over two feet and thus is the World's Largest Pineapple. The structure has four floors, including a gift shop with a variety of pineapple products, a museum covering the history of pineapple farming in South Africa, a video room, and an observation deck with views over the surrounding farmlands to the Indian Ocean. The “skin” of the Big Pineapple is steel and concrete, covered in glass fibre.
Bathurst neighbours the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve, home to many species of animals, bird and plants. The reserve offers hiking trails, picnic spots and a viewpoint of the river and valley. The surrounding area hosts pineapple farms, game reserves and cattle and sheep ranches. It is a 10-minute drive to the beach town of Port Alfred, and 45 minutes from the cultural mecca of Grahamstown.
Only a 15-minute drive from the seaside town of Port Alfred (along the R67 to the university town of Grahamstown), a visit to the Inn’s restaurant is a lovely stop on any day out, and the inn is a perfect spot to use as your base for exploring the area.
The traditional Inn has 10 bedrooms, all lovingly restored and furnished with tasteful antiques. The restaurant is popular among visitors and locals, offering traditional English food and Sunday roasts (which are popular, so booking is recommended), freshly baked cakes and desserts, vegetarian meals, and Mediterranean favourites. The pub's convivial atmosphere has made it a favourite among locals and its tangible history makes it a popular watering hole for holiday-makers.
Welcome to our Inn
The Inn has been providing hospitality to local and international travellers for almost 200 years, and is home to the oldest continuously licensed pub in the country. An atmosphere of heartfelt hospitality permeates the pub, accommodation and restaurant, as does a sense of the original 1820 settler history.
This Historic Inn offers welcoming and comfortable accommodation for travellers from near and far, local and international.
The Inn offers welcoming and comfortable accommodation for travellers from near and far, local and international.
The 10 guest rooms have an authentic old English feel, and are all furnished with antiques in keeping with the atmosphere of a country inn and its status as a national monument, along with modern Sealy Posturepedic beds and new Percale linen.
Of the 10 rooms, four are en-suite, and six are the original 1830s rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
If the age and history of the hotel give you a thrill, ask to stay in room five or room six, both of which were originally the top-storey bedrooms of Thomas Hartley's personal home, built in 1821.
Each now featuring two single beds, the two rooms still make a convenient and cozy place for families, as the shared corridor can be shut off to create interleading family rooms.
Many of the other rooms can accommodate an extra mattress on request and children under 12 years old stay free. Guests older than age 12 sleeping on an additional mattress are charged R 180 per person.
If you're celebrating a special occasion, try to reserve room one, which features a grand king-size four-poster bed, a flat-screen television and an ensuite bathroom with a clawfoot bathtub.
Guests are also invited to spend time relaxing in any of the lounge and television areas, where board games and playing cards are available, and fires are lit in the stone fireplace in winter.
The pub's friendly atmosphere and fascinating history have made it a popular watering hole for both holiday-makers and locals.
An exploration of South Africa would not be complete without a drink at the oldest continuously licensed pub in the country. The pub is a favourite among locals thanks to its warm, companionable atmosphere, and the fascinating history makes it a popular watering hole for holiday-makers to the Eastern Cape.
The wooden beams, wood-burning fireplace and air force memorabilia decorating the stone walls are a reminder of the colourful story of the pub's considerable lifetime. In the present day, the air conditioning keeps the summer heat out as effectively as the old fireplace has always kept the winter chill at bay, making The Inn a year-round sanctuary.
The pub is also equipped with satellite TV so that sports fans can keep up to date with important games in between their exploring and holiday-making.
A recent addition to the pub is the Frontier Bonsmara Whisky Bar, which serves premium whiskies and other spirits. The whisky bar is open at weekends.
In keeping with the Inn's English heritage, the restaurant serves traditional Sunday roasts and classical pub food, alongside vegetarian meals and Mediterranean favourites for the modern palate. The menu also features other signature dishes, such as the renowned pot pies, and freshly baked cakes and desserts.
Guests can enjoy their food whatever the weather. The dining room is pleasant come rain or shine, and the veranda is a lovely place to enjoy a meal in the balmy Bathurst summers. The pub, with its friendly patrons and bar staff (not to mention wood-burning fire) is also an amiable and comfortable place to enjoy a hearty meal. There is also an enclosed outdoor area for children to play in.
Driven to desperation by poverty in 1820s England, people of the lowest classes chose to brave three months (or more) journey by ship to a fledgling colony on the shores of an unknown land. The village of Bathurst is what is known as a frontier town, established by these 1820 settlers on the edge of the newly founded Cape Colony as they tried to find a place to eke out a living in the completely foreign territory of the Eastern Cape.
The Inn was built by one such settler. Thomas Hartley settled in Cumber in 1820 and put down roots in Bathurst, where he built a forge and a house in the early 1820s. By 1832, he had also opened an inn, which he built next to his forge.
Bathurst was well situated geographically as a waypoint for wagon travellers. There was a smithy, farrier, shops and, of course, the Inn, then known as the Bathurst Inn. In 1832 surgeon Ambrose Campbell began to travel to Bathurst from Grahamstown on the first Saturday of every month for consultations.
The Inn was highly regarded and, despite neighbouring a forge, the Inn's rooms were billed as "Subscription Rooms for Gentlemen". High-profile guests included Lord Charles Somerset, the Governor of the Cape, and Sir Benjamin D'Urban.
Following Thomas Hartley's death in 1840, his widow, Sarah, took over the Inn. Her gift for hospitality allowed the Inn to flourish, and it became the accommodation of choice for travelling dignitaries and government officials.
In 1847 the Governor General of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Pottinger, stayed at the Inn where he was visited by the Chaplain, the Magistrate and the Post Commander. The following year the next Governor General, Sir Harry Smith, also stayed at Widow Hartley's Inn (as it was then known).
In 1849, the inn was painted in oils by famous English explorer and artist Thomas Baines. Sarah Hartley died later that year, leaving the Inn she had made renowned in the colony to her son, Thomas Hartley Junior. In 1852 Jeremiah Goldswain bought the Inn from Hartley Junior.
The Inn acquired its current name about 100 years later, when soldiers from the Royal Air Force were stationed nearby. They decided to name their new pub after their local pub in England.
The Historic Inn makes a unique venue for any sort of function, from weddings to business conferences.
Despite its modest size, the town of Bathurst is a popular choice as a wedding venue. Combining a ceremony held in one of Bathurst’s historical churches with a reception at the Inn offers couples an exquisite experience steeped in culture and memorable moments.
With so many wedding venues all over the country, the Historic Inn strives to provide a personal and authentic experience for each couple and their guests. The inn can sleep 20 Guests and has a dedicated honeymoon suite, and we can cater for up to 80 guests for a sit-down meal.
A conference need not be situated in the heart of the city. Getting away from the urban chaos can be a pleasant way to get one's mind in top form. The Inn can provide a quieter environment while still only being a few minutes from both Grahamstown and Port Alfred, and under two hour's drive from both Port Elizabeth and East London.
The Inn boasts a conference room that can comfortably seat 25 guests and is equipped with a projector. The hotel can provide accommodation for 20 people and packages including accommodation and meals can be arranged for conferences.
As a party and function venue, the Inn has the benefit of being unique and interesting, while also having accommodation for 20 guests. Packages including décor and catering (formal sit-down or cocktail-style) can be arranged, and any event held in the historic Inn will not soon be forgotten by your guests.
In the area
Whether you are interested in finding out more about your own heritage, or are curious about the rich history of South Africa, the frontier town of Bathurst is a fascinating place.
The area around the Historic Inn is full of interesting things to see and do.
Some of the nearby attractions include: