August 10, 2012
Ten haunted places in Cape Town
With Cape Town and South Africa’s turbulent colonial past it’s only natural that our Mother City should have a few ghost stories that haunt the city's old buildings.
Leeuwenhof Estate dates back to the earliest days of European settlement in the Cape and is now officially reserved for use by the Premier of the Western Cape. Throughout the history of Leeuwenhof there have been tales of lights inexplicably switching on after they were switched off and an older woman is said to haunt the ground floor. The ghost of a young woman who died of heartbreak when her family disapproved of her lover is also known to spook residents.
Jac Loopuyt House, also known as The Ghost House of Rondebosch, is a picturesque Edwardian residence, with the nickname "The Spook House". It was said to have been used in the 1970s by a strange cult and there are stories of doors being opened and closed inexplicably and a transparent elderly man wandering around.
Rust-en-Vreugd is an ornate building dating back to the late 1700s. Now an art museum, it is not uncommon to hear visitor accounts of ghost sightings. Some guests hear footsteps, some see a woman drifting between the downstairs rooms and others see a different woman staring down on them from an upstairs window. It has been reported that dogs often snarl at the painting of British Governer of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset.
Visitors to Tokai Manor House have reported seeing a re-enactment of a New Year's Eve spectacle from the early 1900s, when a young nobleman was dared to ride his horse around the living room. Due to the large amount of alcohol he had consumed before saddling up he was unable to control the animal and the horse galloped out the door and off the high veranda, fatally breaking the man's neck.
As one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings, the Castle of Good Hope has many a tale to tell. Workers and visitors report hearing voices and footsteps in the windowless dungeon and in the narrow corridors of the building. The bell in the Bell Tower, which was walled up centuries ago after a soldier hung himself with the bell-rope, sometimes rings of its own accord. A black dog is also said to haunt the property and has been known to approach visitors and then disappear.
Lady Anne Barnard is another of the Castle's ghostly residents. In the late 18th century, Lady Anne lived at the Castle as the colony's first lady and was left to entertain important dignitaries. Her ghost is said to have appeared at parties held in honour of important visitors as well as at Dolphin Pool, where she bathed.
Another known ghost story is that of Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt, who was apparently a strict and militant man, once sentencing seven soldiers to die by hanging. One of the soldiers is said to have cursed him. Later that day, Van Noodt was found dead at his desk, having died of a heart attack.
Visitors to the Cape could find the southern coastline very creepy indeed with about 2 700 shipwrecks dating as far back as 1500 dotted around the peninsula. The Shipwreck Trail can be followed at Cape Point Nature Reserve starting at Olifantsbos Bay but the most famous wreck has to be the Flying Dutchman.
Legend has it that the Dutch ship was making its way around a stormy Cape under instruction from a drunk captain. The passengers and crew begged him to turn back, a fight ensued and the captain killed the crew leader and threw his body overboard. The tale goes that as his body hit the sea a shadowy figure appeared on board, cursing the captain to sail the seas for eternity, never reaching port or having a moment's peace. Today, it is believed that the Flying Dutchman appears out of the mist and then suddenly disappears again.