Brand new NTZ On-line Publication for Sale – Historical Signatures Book: La Rochelle Visitors 1954-1970

A very important historical book entitled: ‘La Rochelle Visitors 1954-1970’ has been officially published to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National Trust of Zimbabwe (2020) and in memory of Mr Darrel Plowes (04/04/1925 – 19/10/2016).

Book Outline

After arriving in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) in the early 1950s, British couple Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld decided to make it their home. Fabulously wealthy and with diverse artistic and humanitarian interests, the Courtaulds built a striking home and gardens which they called La Rochelle. They bequeathed the property to the National Trust of Zimbabwe in 1960.

At La Rochelle the Courtaulds hosted an extraordinary range of visitors from all over the world and from many walks of life. Visitors were invited to sign their names with a diamond tipped stylus on several glass window panels, and the hundreds of inscribed signatures have intrigued more recent visitors to La Rochelle.

Over the past 7 years 3 volunteers have documented 898 signatures, aiming to learn a little about each individual – not an easy task given the problems of deciphering the signatures and the passage of time. The resulting publication provides a fascinating glimpse of signatories ranging from African nationalist activities, political figures from various parties, prominent musicians, dancers actors and artists, historians, British aristocracy, local residents and more.

The project was initiated by a former guest and friend of the Courtaulds (and well known local botanist) Mr Darrel Plowes and an Australian visitor to La Rochelle, Mrs Heather White. As Darrel’s health limited his involvement, his companion Ms Nina Bauer, took on the research with Heather. The memories of local residents, along with extensive internet searching, have allowed the compilation of brief notes about many of the Courtauld’s visitors, with web links and/or verified sources.

While much has been discovered, some intriguing gaps remain, and it is hoped the readers of the publication may be able to add a few more pieces to this picture of Rhodesian/Zimbabwean social history.

The Trust would like to acknowledge the passionate voluntary work undertaken by Mrs Nina Bauer and Mrs Heather White over a period of 8 dedicated years. Together they have compiled a fascinating and highly interesting document.  The Trust is extremely grateful for all their hard work and time and for choosing the Trust to be the sole financial beneficiary of their work.

The Trust would also like to say a huge thank to Ms Catherine Leonard and Mr Bill Turner of the International  National Trust Organisation for all their technical help and support in bringing the on-line sale of the book to fruition.

Book Cost

The cost of the on-line book is USD 20.00 each.

A printed soft, colour book is available in Zimbabwe only.

Processing of International orders

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book your order will be processed through our website provider: Change Canada Consultants Ltd., who will process your order on a secure site. Once payment is received your copy of the book will be available immediately for download from their server. Please click on this link and you be redirected to their site.

Processing of Zimbabwe orders

If you live in Zimbabwe and would like to purchase a copy we can take payment in local ZWLs/USD/Ecocash/Bank transfer/PayNow. In this case your order will be processed through the NTZ .  Please email

We do hope that you enjoy reading all about the people that signed the lounge windows at La Rochelle.

We would love to hear about any comments that you have.

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.

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.

Video of an Historical Exhibition of Traditional Shona Sculptures by the late Jonathan Matimba

The Trust was instrumental in re-discovering a unique collection of works by the late Jonathan Matimba who was one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. The works are of great significance and of national historical interest. The Trust was proud and privileged to display, for the time ever, these rare early pieces of art for public enjoyment.

Please enjoy a video of the official opening of the Exhibition that took place on 13th August 2018 where Mrs Edone Ann Logan, Chair, welcomed everyone and Dr Jonathan Zilberg, Associate Research Scholar at The Centre of African Studies, University of Illinois, gave an exhilarating talk on the history of Nyanga sculpture.

The Trust would sincerely like to thank Mr Iain McDonald and Ms Shelley Hood for producing this excellent video.

La Rochelle – Events and news – May 5, 2017

Please email or call us on (04) 497213 / 0714 610 803 to find out costs and more detail.
In 2016 La Rochelle hosted a number of events such as bird courses, vintage car rally, art retreat, jazz evening, food and wine pairings and educational workshops. Here are a few recent photos from some of those events:

World’s View Report – December 2016

With grateful thanks to Gill Honeyman and her wonderful little team up at Worlds View, for all the work you all do there, making the site most enjoyable and much appreciated!
Gill’s report follows:-

An all-time, record breaking month for the View with over 1500 visitors, mostly over the festive season – 300 visitors on Christmas Day, 200 on Boxing Day and 250 over New Year.
The rains have been extremely heavy with torrential downpours and due to the volume of traffic coming onto site the parking area has been turned into a quagmire.
We have dug a 2m wide contour ridge at the base of Nyamutoro (to the rear of the sculptor’s gazebo) which has diverted most of the run-off from the mountain and hopefully we shall now be able to restore our once beautifully lawned parking area.

We still face serious problems at the entrance gate as the culvert was removed by Nyanga Rural Council when they graded the road in 2015 and there is just nowhere for the run-off from the road to go. We battle daily to remove the red soil/mud collecting at the gate and have opened new mitre drains to divert the water down into the lakes. The Rural Council will be contacted in the new year.
We are grateful to the Stead Family from Connemara (Plot No 41) who organised a ‘Carols by Sunset’ on Christmas Eve, the grandchildren playing flute, trumpet and sax. ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ will never be the same again! The rain held off and although our numbers were small it was an extremely enjoyable evening and hopefully next year, with better advertising, attendance will be higher.

The Hydrangeas have been magnificent, as they always are at this time of year, and we have had a lot of enquiries from our visitors as to where they could purchase these plants. An approach was made to Valhallah Nursery in Juliasdale who specialise in hydrangea and azalea and a mutually beneficial agreement was reached. We now have a plant sales area and sales are going really well, after only 2 weeks we are in profit by $83. We have since decided to stock other seasonal plants that grow on site and we are sure that our ‘Plant Sale’ section will continue to do well.

We have purchased some more lovely books for our small library and they have been very well received and read by visitors, mainly those taking shelter in the gallery when it rains. A lawnmower has also been purchased so we no longer have to borrow from No 12. Strimmer repairs continue!
Our ‘sign writer’ has been busy and painted a number of new metal signs: ‘NO FIRES’, ‘PLEASE TAKE FOOD WASTE HOME – BEWARE BABOONS!’, and others that will help visitors find their way around more easily.
Picnic table number four is near completion and the first three have been commissioned. All constructed from local stone and fitting in well with the natural surroundings.

Visitors enjoying sundowners at one of the new picnic tables.
Plans have been drawn for the extension and refurbishment of the staff accommodation block. It is our intention to build on another room to accommodate caretaker No. 2 and to completely refurbish the toilet and shower room. A covered courtyard will also be incorporated and a wood burning stove purchased to upgrade the kitchen facilities. Some roof repairs to the existing building are required and repairs and repainting to existing walls – inside and out. Although we expect a seasonal decline in the number of visitors over the next few months we should still have enough in the kitty to take us to roof height, until the Easter rush of guests.
The art gallery is attracting much interest and most visitors are surprised and impressed to find an art gallery on the top of a mountain! We even received an approach from an artist from Harare who enquired if he could hold an exhibition of his own work in the gallery. Our very grateful thanks go to Val Cameron of Juliasdale for her donation of a large pastel of a scene in the Fox Rock area and a smaller one of wild flowers. Val is a professional and very accomplished artist and we are extremely proud to have her work in our collection. They are presently in Harare being framed. Our thanks also to Cherrie Stead for two beautiful water colours that she has donated, they have been framed and now grace the gallery walls as part of our permanent collection. We are still encouraging local Nyanga artists to bring us their work for display/sale. One painting was sold in December with a 10% commission being paid to WV.
The visitors book continues to be a joy to read, many compliments about the staff and their friendly and welcoming reception, the well maintained grounds, the toilet facilities and of course our magnificent scenery. A visitor from Scotland wrote ‘Thanks to the people who donated this land, developed this land and now lovingly maintain it. Without you this place would not exist. A real gem on planet earth. The people of Zimbabwe should be proud of you all. Well done the National Trust of Zimbabwe’.
We still await a visit from Rob Burrett who will be able to give us advice on recently found ruins. We are anxious to promote the area using these easily accessible sites not only as an added attraction, but to emphasise the cultural history of this region. We appreciate the problems Rob faces with financing such a visit and the limitations on his valuable time, perhaps if there is someone else who is equally qualified and able to make the trip it would be most beneficial to get their advice sooner than later. Its over two years since we found the ruins and need to get this project moving. Any ideas?
My personal thanks to Matirina, who took leave from his job to be on site throughout the busy festive season, keeping everything running smoothly, efficiently and profitably, and to Luke and Arthur for the tremendous amount of work they put in keeping the site neat and clean as well as attending to our many visitors and …….. collecting the money!


Fort Gomo Kadzamu – Spirit of Place Statement

Sit in a small stone fort located at the top of a gomo (hill in Shona) that is typical of the many fortifications in the eastern half of Zimbabwe. Part of the Nyanga Cultural Tradition these lowland forts were associated with the Shona Dynasties that postdate the Great Zimbabwe Culture. Be thrilled when you see the small wall enclosing the summit with a door with a stone lintel.
Walk over broken granite terrain and through wisps of Old Man’s Beard Lichen Usnea hanging from the branches of the Msasa trees Brachystegia spiciformis in the pristine Miombo woodland.
Marvel at the 360 degree views from the summit and enjoy your picnic under the cooling the tree cover and be in awe of the cultural heritage of the settlement that probably dates to the 17th to the 19th centuries A.D

Sebakwe Poort – Spirit of Place Statement

Meander through an area of natural and unspoiled woodland comprising a large number of species of indigenous trees, including many fine specimens of several different Acacia species and watch the Sebakwe River flowing through the Sebakwe Poort (gorge): it is an impressive sight.

Mubukuwne – Spirit of Place Statement

Stand just a few kilometres south of Bulawayo City centre and soak up the atmosphere and imagine the area as it was over 100 years ago, with ox wagons and their teams of oxen outspanned in the dry red dust and now final resting place of some of the country’s earliest settlers. What a rugged life they must have led, in the early days of this great country; travelling north to discover more, crossing rivers, valleys, hills and rocky outcrops in their quest for adventure and a yearning to finally settle in this bountiful land. Stand still awhile and cast your thoughts back in time and remember all the brave souls who adventured forth into unknown territory to found this great nation.
Tom Meikle bought Mabukuwene in1937 and often rode there with his daughters. He built the walls around the property, cleared the underbrush, and set the historic wrought-iron gates in the gate posts. When he died in1939 he was buried in a gentle sloping granite outcrop under the spreading arm of a giant wild fig tree. The arms of the fig tree throw a chequered pattern of sunlight and shadow on the granite. Members of his family joined him in later years. Other kopjies and ranks of bushveld trees ring the area and immediately around there is a paddock of golden grass. It was transferred to the National Trust in 1978 and subsequently the grave area was transferred back to the Meikles Trust in 1995.
Mabukuwene is a lovely place, restful and secluded where a person can sit in the sun, relax and think and enjoy 12 hectares of indigenous trees and plants set in an unspoilt area of kopjes with their distinctive pink hue. Stand on an outcrop and admire the view from 1442 meters (4730 feet) above sea level that affords a 360 º view point of the area.
Explore the two small areas of gardens, a plantation of jacaranda trees along an originally proposed drive-way, short lengths of dry-stone walling previously dividing the property into paddocks, a roofless ruined house (the barn) and a circular, stone-walled thatched-roofed lookout on the highest rocks. One of the small garden areas is the site of the grave and the other surrounds the house and lookout point in the centre of the property.
Discover some 80 different species of indigenous trees including some exceptionally fine specimens of Ficus ficus sonderi and EuphorbIa ingens. When in flower they attract a wide variety of birds typical of the habitat, nearly 100 species have been recorded such as Natal Francolin, Guinea Fowl and Spotted Eagle Owls. Look out for small mammals such as squirrels and dassies scampering around in the bush.
And so the wilderness called Mabukuwene continues, emphasizing the preservation of the indigenous flora and fauna and cultural heritage of the area.

Murawah’s Hill – Spirit of Place Statement

One can almost hear the chattering of little children and the wisdom-filled murmuring of the elders as they sit beneath the trees and on the surrounding rocks in dappled sunlight sharing hunting stories and waiting for the night fires to light up before an evening under the stars; exchanging ancient traditional lore and planning the next day’s hunt.
This is an important place and is respected for the wealth of history it holds, albeit unwritten and perhaps mostly based on assumption and imagination, as there is no record remaining from when the Hill was inhabited by the Ziwa 200-400 A.D., apart from the pottery findings and other remnants from history.
Rich in birdlife and carrying an abundance of indigenous trees, as well as butterflies and other insects Murawah’s Hill is a small sanctuary and natural memorial to the tribe’s people now lost in history.
We owe it to their memory to preserve it and respect it as they would appreciate it.