Our Groundcover shop
Just over a hundred years ago, while reading the Natal Witness, Dennis Westle Smith noticed an advertisement for mail order wood and iron houses. By appointment to the Queen, J.C.M. Joinery, of London, made easy to assemble house kits using German iron and North American Douglas fir, which they shipped in tight bundles throughout the British Empire.
Dennis placed an order with J.C.M., and thus began his house’s long journey, first by ship to Delagoa Bay and then by ox wagon to the Smiths’ homestead near Dronk Vlei (now Creighton).
Responding to an advert in the same newspaper a full century later, we decided to buy the old house from Brian Smith and turn it into our leather shop.The building was carefully dismantled and loaded on a truck, this time for the considerably shorter journey to our front lawn.
It took us nearly a year to scrape back generations of paint and reconstruct the house — we adapted the plan to suit its new function, but stayed true to the architectural style of farmsteads and trading stores of the time. Today, this historic building nestles contentedly in our magnificent gardens overlooking the Lions River valley, where it is admired by scores of visitors every day.
Mon-Fri 8 am – 5 pm, Weekends and Public Holidays 8:30am – 5pm
Open everyday except 25 December.
The elves and the shoemaker
ONCE UPON A TIME, A SHOEMAKER AND HIS WIFE LIVED IN A little house on the edge of a forest. They were very poor, and grew poorer and poorer every day.
When the leather in his store was almost finished, the shoemaker said to his wife, “I will cut out one last pair of shoes this evening and will sew them and finish them tomorrow.”
To his surprise, when he went into his workshop the next morning he found a beautiful pair of shoes, all finished and ready to be sold! The shoes were so nicely made that they sold quickly at the market. With the money he made, the shoemaker bought enough leather for two pairs of shoes. That night he left the cut leather on his workbench, and the next morning he found two beautifully finished pairs of shoes. So he bought twice as much leather again, and the following
morning there were four pairs on the bench.
This went on and on, until he became a rich shoemaker.
One day he said to his wife, “We must find out who is helping us make all our shoes.”
That night, the shoemaker and his wife hid in his workshop and waited.
At the stroke of midnight, three poorly dressed little elves jumped in through the window. They skipped and danced up to the workbench, then sat down and happily began to make shoes. They worked their little tools so well and quickly that, in no time, they had finished all the work. Then they skipped and danced back out the window and were gone.
The shoemaker and his wife felt so grateful to the little elves that they wanted to give them something in return. So he made them three pairs of tiny shoes and she sewed three beautiful little coats to replace their tattered clothes.
That night, the shoemaker and his wife again hid and waited in the workshop. When, at midnight, the elves came hopping in, they were delighted to find their little gifts. They put on their new clothes and shoes, then skipped and danced like never before.
The shoemaker and his wife never saw the elves again, but their good fortune held out since that night, and they lived happily ever after.
The elves and the shoemaker sculpture created by Peter Hall.