A Seat with a View: The Robertson Memorial Bench

Piero and Hillary Celebrating the Christening of  ‘The Roberston Bench’ at Worlds View

 

Dear Piero and Hillary,

On behalf of the National Trust of Zimbabwe, I would like to thank you for your most generous donation which has more than covered the cost of constructing the newly-completed ‘Robertson Bench’.

      Bench under construction     

 

                    Completed

                                                    View from behind plaque 

This is the first time we have been commissioned by an Architect to design and build anything, so it was a great relief and very rewarding when you revisited us last week and said it was better than anything you had expected.   You chose a beautiful location: afternoon sun, sheltered from the wind, and a breath-taking view. What a beautiful spot to sit and remember your parents.

It was a pleasure to meet you both and be able to christen the bench together and I’m sure you and your family will revisit and share many memorable moments there too.

Thank you again and I look forward to seeing you back up on the mountain one day soon.

Kind regards,

Gill Honeyman

Chair Worlds View

 

A Weekend of Celebrations: 60th Anniversary of the Trust at La Rochelle

     

As part of its on-going 60th Anniversary celebrations 3 National Trust representatives, namely Gill Honeyman, Guy Cary and Lin Goncalves attended a wonderful, and exceptionally well organised event held at La Rochelle Country House on Saturday 31ST October 2020.The documentary film, presented by Robbie Honey (see previous post), was projected on the tower wall on Friday evening, the 30th, with an almost full moon hanging in the clear sky behind the tower and a clear star-lit sky graced the evening.

Harvey and Debbie Leared have most certainly revived La Rochelle and breathed new life into every part of the property. We had a long and interesting walk around the botanical gardens and they are in pristine condition – lawns and pathways are manicured and immaculate and the old waterway is once again running through the gardens down to the dam, attracting birds and butterflies along the way.

The lovely wooden bench – tribute to The Curtain Foundation, Nick Roditi, Simon Goldberg (and others)  is well situated in a quiet and pretty spot overlooking one of the ponds. The Trust is humbled by the measure of generosity shown by Mr. Roditi to enable the NTZ to restore the orchid houses and the gardens, all of which are looking really beautiful and well tended by the long-standing senior member of the gardening staff, Nicholas and his team. There is also a memorial bench in appreciation of the work done by  Daryl Plowes for the NTZ.

 

 

Before the luncheon on Saturday the 31st, the invited guests were treated to a delightful programme in the formal lounge, of well-loved oldies spanning the past 6 decades, by the Phoenix Choir of Harare, whose voices belted out such favourites as “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, “Fly me to the Moon”,  “Mr Sandman”, “Annie’s Song” and “Fiddler on the Roof” – to name a few, in the lounge, tastefully furnished and with blooming orchids to grace the tables.

                                            

The Phoenix Choir who entertained the guests before lunch

It is an amazing coincidence that, after a couple of botanical scares in the shade-house, the rare and beautiful Vanda lombokensis orchid named after Lady Virginia, IS BLOOMING for only the 3rd time in 60 years, right now….a fitting tribute to the philanthropist couple who collected the orchids and exotic plants which all still thrive in the gardens at La Rochelle today!

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                    Vanda lombokensis orchid

 

Nina Bauer’s many years of hard work and dedication was acknowledged on the occasion too, in the form of two, laminated and bound volumes of the glass signature panels with the biographies of MOST of the signatories. An enormous thank you to Nina and to Heather White, now in Australia, for their many hours, days, weeks, and now YEARS of work to get these volumes done in time for the 60th Anniversary of the Trust.  Nina Bauer inspecting her hard work in the 2 volumes of signatures off the glass window panels

 

Pre-lunch drinks served overlooking the gardens – fresh iced herbal teas, wines and sparkling wine,

with delicious snacks

Harvey Leared welcomed all the guests to La Rochelle and spoke of the National Trust and the developments over the past five years, which have been quite remarkable considering the ‘challenges’ one faces!

The luncheon beneath the trees in the gardens in the front of the house was a splendid menu with chicken liver pate followed by a sumptuous buffet with roast rolled beef, baked ham, pickled bream and a selection of tantalizing fresh salads and rolls, and baby potatoes in their jackets, with lashings of butter and fresh herbs from the kitchen garden

 

One can only imagine a content couple looking down on the event, perhaps from the tower window, and saying to one another how happy they were to see such a fitting tribute to their legacy being played out on the lawns below, under a rich cobalt blue and cloudless sky, in the gardens they both so lovingly engineered and nurtured.

Guy Cary, from the NTZ Nyanga Committee, who attended with Ms Gill Honeyman of World’s View, gave a great speech, likening the National Trust’s properties within Zimbabwe to a medieval crown, with it’s jewel-inlaid ermine and 3-pointed ‘crown’ of jewels, the most significant of which is the La Rochelle jewel in the crown of the NTZ!

Guy has been very familiar with the history of the National Trust and of the Eastern Districts area spanning a number of years and is a commendable speaker!  Guy spoke freely and easily of the history of La Rochelle and the generosity of the Courtaulds and of the eastern districts area in general. Being close to the Indian Ocean to the east, the area has a dynamic history dating back a few hundred years to the slave and gold and ivory traders plying the Indian Ocean up and down the east coast of Africa.

The gardens at this time of the year are looking superb, with many blooms to admire both in flower beds and on some of the trees.

A new succulent garden was officially opened to mark the occasion and a tree was planted to remember and commemorate the life of the late Gordon Addams who passed away very suddenly recently. Gordon was a long standing member of the Eastern Districts community having managed some of the top small hotels in the region for a number of years and lately, ‘Gordon’s’ in Mutare, until his death.

After lunch, the water-colour painting by Margi Grobelaar, which Margi had donated to the Trust some time ago, was auctioned with Des Becker ably filling the post of last-minute appointee of the position of auctioneer. Bidding was brisk with a more-than-expected and very generous winning bid from Gill Honeyman – a huge thanks to Gill!!!

Guided walks were arranged of the botanical gardens and orchid houses and also to the herb trials and the drying and packing shed.

On Sunday at lunchtime guests were treated to another, informal concert before lunch.

It is hoped that La Rochelle and the National Trust of Zimbabwe, will continue to welcome guests from near and far – and grow to develop the existing ties with INTO and INTO (Africa).

One of the many views one has of the tower from the front gardens

 

Compiled by Lin Goncalves

 

La Rochelle: Join Robbie Honey on a delightful journey around the Botanical Gardens and Learn about the Fascinating Courtauld History

The Trust is thrilled to share with you a video entitled: ‘La Rochelle: Robbie Honey’ that enjoyed its premier screening at the recent Trust’s 60th birthday celebrations held at La Rochelle where it was projected against the French style tower with a full moon behind.

Robbie, Floral Designer, Lecturer and Author of ‘The Accidental Botanist: The Structure of Plants Revealed’, passionately shares his botanical knowledge about the abundant flora growing in the grounds of La Rochelle.  He also explains the history of the estate and reveals some interesting old black and white photographs of the Courtauld’s taken in the UK and in Zimbabwe. The video shows magnificent sweeping aerial views of the house and estate made possible by drone footage.

The video opens with Robbie sitting on the sunny veranda of the house, now a boutique hotel, talking about the history of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld who generously donated their estate to the Trust in 1972.   Robbie then walks around the formal lounge, courtyard and Lady Virginia’s private ‘Fantasy Room. He then invites you to take part in a delightful, guided journey around the 226 acre estate which was established with the professional help of the UK Horticulturist John Henry Mitchell, with exotic plants and trees gathered from all over the world.  Co-incidentally, Robbie is friendly with Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elsworthy who visited Zimbabwe in 2014 and redesigned the gardens.

As you will discover the estate has an exceptional botanical area and Dell that covers 20 acres of land both contain many fine specimens of exotic and indigenous species. Robbie’s tour includes the unique Orchid biome that is home to a large and diverse collection of exotic orchids that Sir Stephen collected from around the world including the Lady Virginia Orchid: the only in the world.

After the orchid collection Robbie moves on and chats to Kevin Martin who runs the commercial organic farming area consisting of 25 acres of trial beds of herbs being grown for teas including various mints, lemon balm and grass and thyme and petals such as sunflower and calendula and recently planted super grain foods like chia and quinoa.

We do hope that you enjoy watching this wonderful production by Media Matrix Productions, very kindly sponsored by Mr H. Leared for which the Trust is extremely grateful.

https:/vimeo.com/468854262

Exciting news: NTZ Auction on Saturday 31st October 2020 at La Rochelle

This very beautiful ORIGINAL watercolor painting of La Rochelle by Zimbabwe’s well-renowned Margi Grobelaar is going to be AUCTIONED on Saturday 31st October AT La Rochelle, during the 60th BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS.

This auction will help raise funds for the National Trust of Zimbabwe.

If you wish to take part in the auction from afar, we can help you out – we will have a WHATSAPP AUCTION GROUP set-up and will be happy to have your bids coming in LIVE during the auction.

Please send through your WHATSAPP NUMBER to the GROUP NUMBER which will be +263 772 359 087 and we will add you in.

Bidding for the painting will be during the course of the day on Saturday and the WHATSAPP group will be notified of the opening. Bids may commence when the auction starts.

RESERVE PRICE US$200 (two hundred dollars)

Please note that bids will be in US$

Good luck!

Far from the Madding Crowd

Mike Garden, of Softrite, recently visited La Rochelle Country House and we are pleased to share his feedback from his stay:

Hi All

Softrite still has quite a few loyal payroll customers in Manicaland so I drive down to Mutare from time to time to pay them a courtesy call to see if they need any enhancements to our software.

I always maintain that spring is the best time to be travelling anywhere in the Eastern Highlands: starting with Miombo woodlands covered with a dazzling array of ochre coloured Msasas in August; progressing to the verdant green-leafed deciduous trees in late September; then the lilac Jacarandas and cherry Flamboyants (non-indigenous / exotic) in October and November respectively.

La Rochelle Country House, situated in Penhalonga on the outskirts of Mutare is part of the National Trust of Zimbabwe and they are currently celebrating their 60th anniversary. So I decided to stay at La Rochelle for a couple of nights last week to check it out. The crisp mountain air along with that “Far from the madding crowd” feeling makes it the perfect place to relax either over a long weekend or at the end of a busy day in Mutare. La Rochelle have, arguably, the best orchid displays and aloe garden in the region and I woke up early on day 2 for a guided tour with the very competent and knowledgeable Peter. The botanical gardens have trees, aloes, cactuses and many other succulents from all over the world – and Peter knew both the English and Latin name for just about everyone.

 

Relaxing with a cup of tea and scones on the afternoon of my arrival, I sat for a while on the long, frontal veranda and read my book – all the while glancing at the pristine rose garden with young buds urgent to come into seasonal bloom. I always throw my golf clubs in the boot of my car when I travel to Mutare as I know I can just pitch up a little before 3pm on Wednesday at the nearby Hillside golf club and join a few mates for 9 holes of golf. The golf club is just 10 minutes away from La Rochelle and the course is in such good nick at the moment – thanks to Kevin and Billy.

If you are looking for something to do with your Covid bored kids and are happy to take a couple of days off then I would recommend you book a couple of rooms at La Rochelle – lots of hiking trails and some of the best bird life in the country. Just a 3 hour trip from Harare on good tarred roads. Ciao Mike Garden.

The Hon. Mangaliso Ndlovu visits the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition.

It was a real honor for the Trust to host The Hon. Mangaliso Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry last week.

The Hon. Minister was attending a conference at the Rhodes Nyanga hotel and decided to visit the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition during his trip to the Eastern Highlands.

Mr Marshall Nyanhanda, the Curator of the exhibition, warmly welcomed the Hon. Minister and his entourage and said that he was very privileged to meet everyone and to show them around the permanent collection.

 

 

The Hon. Mangaliso Ndlovu studying Cecil Rhodes Desk circa 1890.

 

We thank you very much for visiting the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition. It was our pleasure indeed.

The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition featured in this Tourism Lookout video

We have much pleasure in sharing a video produced by ‘The Tourist Lookout’ that featured the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition whist they were travelling around and highlighting the best ‘hidden tourist gems’ of the Eastern Highlands.

The video shows Marshall Nyanhanda, the Curator showing the team around and being interviewed.

Please Enjoy and share.

Birthday Celebrations at 2,100 metres

The National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) celebrated its 60th birthday on 26th August 2020 in a very special place called ‘Worlds View ‘(a NTZ site) located on the western edge of the Nyanga escarpment right next to the magnificent Mount Nyamatoro. It is one of the most spectacular destinations for domestic and international tourists in Zimbabwe.

Guests assembled, mid-morning, in the spring sunlight at a height of 2,100m and gazed down from one of the highest points in the country with panoramic views across the central plateau spread out almost a km below them.

The view from Worlds View

Mr Guy Cary, Chair of Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition (RNHE) Master of Ceremony (MC) officially opened the event by greeting and thanking guests for attending such an auspicious occasion.   Guy gave apologies from Mr David Scott, NTZ Chairman who was sadly unable to attend.

Mr Guy Cary opening the celebrations 

Sharon Waterworth, Vice Chair NTZ, then extended a very warm welcome to everyone present and said that she felt very privileged to be at the celebration being held at one of the most beautiful landmarks of Zimbabwe.   She said that Worlds View sits in amongst an Afromontane community which only occurs above 1,500–2,000 m and talked about the natural landscape: one covered with open grasslands, heathlands, wetlands and natural springs, rare and unique flora and fauna species with a high level of endemism.

Sharon explained that Worlds View is unique in terms of its ancient cultural heritage with sites on the upper slopes of Mount Nyamatoro that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The sites consist of early forts, stone walls, paths and enclosures, central pit structures and terraces: all beautifully crafted and utterly intriguing.  She mentioned that on the lower slopes there are sites that have only recently been discovered in 2018: Matrina’s Ruins, Jacok’s Ruins and Rob’s Folly: as tradition dictates, they were named after the gentlemen who unearthed them.

Guests were thanked for taking the time to celebrate the 60th birthday of the NTZ which was established on the 26th August 1960, promulgated by an Act of Parliament with the aim of protecting and managing properties for future generations to enjoy. Sharon invited Mr W.Dhlandhlara to say a traditional payer to bless the event. 

Mr W.Dhlandhlara saying a prayer

Guests were asked to raise their glasses and Sharon proposed a toast: Makorokoto (congratulations) to the NTZ on its 60th birthday! A remarkable achievement! 

                                                                            Guests toasting the NTZ 60th birthday

Sharon went onto explain that NTZ is part of a much larger family network: INTO, a NGO founded in 2007 established to promote the conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world. INTO represents over 55 million individual members and have countless millions of visitors to sites and properties across more than 25 counties.

NTZ are proud to be members of INTO and hugely grateful for their continued and unwavering support

In 2015 the INTO Africa Group of which NTZ is a full time member. The Africa Group brings together a vibrant network of African Heritage Organisations sharing their ideas and resources, developing a continent-wide voice and promoting and influencing on African cultural heritage matters.

Sharon gave her deepest appreciation to the Executive Council and Regional Committees who work tirelessly (in a voluntary capacity) to manage 7 properties and acknowledged the presence of those present: Fira Bache, Lin Goncalves, Clare Peech, Edone Anne and Aubrey Logan, Gill Honeyman, Merle Moore, Ray and Clutty, Naboth and Josephine Muchopa, June Weeks, Geoff Hawskley, Pat Hallowes and Guy Cary. She also thanked each and every one of the NTZ members.

Sincere thanks went to Gill Honeyman, Chair of Worlds View for more than 10 years, for hosting the event. Gill is always positive, determined, professional, extremely capable and passionate about the NTZ  and is continually striving to improve the visitor experience at the site. Her energy and dedication is a constant source of inspiration.

Sharon expressed grateful thanks to Matrina, Treasurer and the very able and willing resident caretakers: Luke, Arthur, Itai and Mat all of whom work hard to keep the site looking immaculate and Talent was thanked for serving refreshments.

Buffet table with a view                                      Guests enjoying lunch and refreshments under a shady tree

After a most delicious lunch, expertly prepared by Gill, everyone walked over to the veranda next to ‘Gill’s” Art Gallery.

Gills’ Gallery

Much to her surprise Edone was asked to join Sharon on the verandah who then went on to explain  about all the hard work and dedication that she has given to the NTZ over many years.  She said it had been such a real pleasure to work alongside Edone on the Executive Council and from the time the RNHE committee was formed in 2011 until she retired in 2019.

Sharon announced that Edone had certainly put the RNHE on the map and her achievements included  doubling the exhibition floor space, expanding the collection, showcasing work produced by local artisans, assisting to compile the curriculum for heritage education in Zimbabwe,  exhibiting the work of local artists – the re-discovery of Jonathan Matimba’s work was extraordinary- celebrating the 40th anniversary of the RNHE with singing, dancing and food for all, winning an international prize for the best Cultural Heritage Education project  which involved 130 schoolchildren was presented an the INTO conference in Bali,  co-author, with Archaeologist Mr Robert Burrett, of a publication entitled  “Nyanga’s Rich Heritage” an informative booklet promoting the natural beauty of Nyanga and the ancient and modern history of the area and organised numerous interesting and engaging talks on various subjects at the RNHE.

 Edone Ann Logan (second on the left) being presented with a UK National Trust book and a video set by Sharon, Lin Goncalves and Fira Bache

Deepest thanks were also given to Aubrey Logan for all his advice, encouragement, time, knowledge and invaluable assistance and continued good humour. And judging by the many wonderful comments written by visitors to the RHNE Edone and Aubrey have left a legacy and greater knowledge to all, especially to schoolchildren.  The NTZ hopes that you enjoy your retirement to the full!

After the presentation of gifts to Edone Ann, Sharon highlighted that we all having to change and adapt to a new landscape in which we find ourselves living in. Looking ahead she said that the NTZ pledges to keep being just as dynamic and relevant as ever. The challenge is to connect even more people to NTZ priceless historical sites, to their timeless natural wild areas and beauty, built structures and local communities.

She added that NTZ pledges to continue to catalogue scientific information, publish educational and historical material, work with local communities, scale up our cultural heritage, historical and environmental education programmes and through a successful Public, Private Partnership at La Rochelle, build a first class regional Agricultural College.  The vision for Worlds View is to continue with the biological monitoring and recording changes in the flora species and abundance flora and carry on with archaeological research and possibly unearth and protect more archaeological sites.

Guy Cary stepped up and gave a lovely speech in dedication of the late Mr Michael Kimberly (2 May 1934 – 3 January 2020) who was one of the Stalwarts of the NTZ in the early 70’s (see http://ntoz.org/tribute-to-mike-kimberley).  He said that Mike was a wonderful and dedicated supporter of NTZ and he made a great contribution to the success of the organisation.

Tribute to Mr M Kimberley by Guy Cary

Guy explained that Mike graduated at Witwatersrand University in Arts and Law and started practicing Law in Zimbabwe in 1960 and continued working until his retirement in September 2013. He was one of the founding members of the Aloes Cactus and Succulent Society of Zimbabwe in 1969. Guy added that Mike was an extremely determined, professional and thorough legal mind who was also heavily involved in the History Society of Zimbabwe, the Aloe Society among other community and environmental areas.

Afterwards guests gathered inside the gallery and the memorial plaque was unveiled and the formal naming of the ‘Mike Kimberley Room’ (adjacent the gallery) was declared official to much applause.

 The unveiling of the Mike Kimberley memorial plaque by Guy Cary, Sharon Waterworth and Gill Honeyman

Next, guests were invited to the first global screening of the first NTZ video made possible by generous funding by Mr H Leared, produced by Mr N Kuhn, to whom the NTZ is extremely grateful. The video is packed with interesting information about the NTZ and its sites (see http://ntoz.org/the-ntz-celebrates-its-60th-birthday-today).

Sharon then shared two very special birthday greetings:

I write as Chair of INTO to send much love and warm congratulations on the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the National Trust of Zimbabwe. I have to confess that having passed my own 60th birthday, I know from experience that there is a mixture of a pleasant feeling of experience, friendship and knowledge, alongside a sense that one had better finally grow up!

The NT Zimbabwe has achieved so much to be proud of in its 60 years, including a remarkable and beautiful property portfolio, and a range of activities and campaigns through which you stand up for the natural, built and cultural heritage of Zimbabwe.  I was also enormously impressed to learn, at the Bermuda ICNT, of the way in which you are striving to engage diverse communities in your work.

I hope you have a wonderful celebration later this week, and look forward to hearing all about it.  With love and very best wishes from all your friends all around the world.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair, INTO

A video from Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General INTO entitled “Reminisces on the working partnership between INTO and the NTZ” was also shared (see https://into-icnt.org/social-media ) in which Catherine spoke of the friendship between the two organisations that evolved from an INTO conference held in Dublin in 2009.  A year later Oliver Maurice visited Zimbabwe to advise on the NTZ. During his stay he visited Worlds View, La Rochelle and RNHE and as he was so impressed INTO organised for Karen Dicken, People Project Manager at The National Trust, Plymouth, United Kingdom to go to Zimbabwe during which time she compiled a Management Plan for La Rochelle. Catherine went on to say that over the years the partnership had grown and facilitated projects such as assisting a Youth Programme in association with like-minded organisations in Sierra Leone and Uganda, and establishing the NTZ website. She ended by wishing the NTZ another 60 successful years.

The finale of a wonderful day of events was the cutting of a scrumptious 60th cake iced with the signature colours of the NTZ.

 Mr Willie Dhlandhlara cutting the cake with Sharon Waterworth, Gill Honeyman and Guy Cary

It was a memorable occasion!

A video capturing the highlights of the event has been posted on the NTZ facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/National-Trust-of-Zimbabwe. If you enjoy it, please like and share the page. Thank you very much.

Birthday wishes from INTO Members.

Catherine Leonard has very kindly posted birthday wishes and cards received from the global INTO family that we would like to share with you, please see: https://into-icnt.org/social-media.

Thank you for reading this article.

The NTZ celebrates its 60th birthday today!

The NTZ is super proud to announce that it celebrates its 60th birthday today! The NTZ was established on the 26th August 1960, promulgated by an Act of Parliament, with the aim of protecting and managing properties for future generations to enjoy.

We invite you to watch the first global screening of our very first video made possible by the generous funding by Mr H Leared to whom we are extremely grateful. The video production work was carried out by Mr N Kuhn.

We do hope that you enjoy it and that it gives you a sense of what we are achieving and planning for in the future here in beautiful Zimbabwe.

60th Celebrations: “Trust Memories” Birthday Competition: Be Part of History

60th birthday Celebrations

We are very proud to announce that the National Trust of Zimbabwe will be celebrating its 60th birthday this year! This is of course an amazing milestone.  The Trust was established in 26th August 1960 and ever since that date we have been working hard to carry out the  important job of protecting and managing properties that we are privileged to be the custodians of, for future generations to enjoy.

Trust Memories Birthday Competition: Be Part of History

We are going to launch a “Trust Memories” Birthday Competition: Be Part of History on Friday 17th July.

We are delighted to invite you to join us in celebrating 60 successful years by sharing your earliest memories of a visit to one of our sites. It could be an old photograph/newspaper cutting or a short statement/story of how you felt/experienced whilst you were there.

We will be awarding one year’s free subscription to the best entry. Please visit or membership page to see the list of membership benefits worldwide.

The closing date is 12th August 2020.

Please kindly email your memories to: ntzimbabwe@gmail.com

Please note:

In taking part you agree for your article to be published across our social media platforms.

The competition is only open to Zimbabwean residents.

Thank you very much.

We look forward to reading your entries.

“Heritage is precious: treasure it”