Harcroft House Picture: Facebook / Strauss & Co
Harcroft House Picture: Facebook / Strauss & Co

Entire contents of 64-room Constantia mansion go under the hammer

By Staff Writer Time of article published Nov 18, 2019

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Cape Town – The entire contents of a 64-room mansion in Constantia, which has stood untouched for 70 years, will go under the hammer today.

Harcroft House is one of the last remaining grand residences in Constantia, and is a treasure trove of antiques and art. The emphasis of the collection lies in the oriental ivories, scroll paintings and furniture.

There is also a selection of Chinese and Japanese ivory carvings including a late 19th century tall Japanese ivory okimono of a reveller and a child, (R20 000-R30 000) and a pair of 19th century Chinese ivory carvings of archers (R15 000-R20 000).

The figures are visible in photographs of Harcroft, Perak prior to World War ii.

Previously owned by the Baxter family, who were influential in developing and cultivating the arts in Cape Town, the mansion was later purchased by British-born Charles Rycroft and his wife Muriel.

Rycroft ran Harcroft Rubber Estates Ltd in Perak, Malaysia, until the Japanese invasion in 1941.

Being forced to flee, they made their way to Singapore.

Muriel left on the last ship in February 1942 from there travelling via Bombay to Cape Town, while Charles was captured when Singapore fell in April of that year.

It was only in 1943 that Muriel received news that Charles was alive in Changi internment camp for civilians.

“After many trials and tribulations, they were reunited after the war and returned to Perak in 1946 to rebuild the plantation and factory.

“In the 1950s they retired to Cape Town and purchased a property in Constantia, which originally had formed part of Klaasenbosch Farm,” Strauss and Co, organisers of the auction, said.

Charles died in 1998 and Muriel left the house untouched to preserve his legacy, living there until her death in 2014, aged 106.

The auction will take place today. Session one is at 9.30am, session two at 12.30pm and session three at 4pm.

Contact for details: (0)216836560 Mobile +27 (0)780448185.

Cape Times

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