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KKnown as a jewel of the eastern Free State, Prynnsberg Manor is one of Africa’s legendary homes and the grandest of the Free State’s famous sandstone mansions. Built by Kimberley diamond magnate Charles Newberry in 1881, it is now available for visitors to stay in and experience.
The ghost of Elizabeth Newberry is delighted tonight. Her beloved Victorian-era Prynnsberg Manor in the Free State is alive with guests, gardeners, cooks and flowers.
Everything is just as it was when she lived here 130 years ago.
Standing at the base of the flight of stairs leading up to the billiard room, Elizabeth, looking as regal as ever in black velvet and diamonds, smiles approvingly at the laughter and tinkle of crystal.
Standing alongside her, looking equally stylish, are Rick and Sue Melvill, the current owners of Prynnsberg.
Co-directors of a Johannesburg-based communications company and the originators of Melvill and Moon safari luggage, they have restored and recreated Prynnsberg – renowned as one of Africa’s legendary homes – into a dramatic, romantic retreat in the golden grasslands of the Free State near the towns of Clocolan and Ficksburg.
Prynnsberg was built in 1881 by Englishman Charles Newberry, who made his money in South Africa from diamonds. His vision was to create an English country estate in Africa, in the shadow of the Maluti Mountains.
And so, together with his bride, Elizabeth, he built the sandstone manor house with 39 rooms and 14 chimneys.
Prynnsberg Manor House and the Gamekeeper’s Lodge have both been tastefully restored by the Melvills and can be booked on a self-catering basis, or for classic country weekends complete with themed dinners, clay-pigeon shoots, high teas, a visit to a cave where San people once sheltered and appetite-rousing walks.
Time spent here is a combination of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Alice in Wonderland. It’s a time capsule; it’s amazing.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
The Prynnsberg Estate
Tel: +27 (0)81 568 8435
Cell: +27 (0)72 678 7338
How to get here
Prynnsberg is about 370km from Johannesburg. You can either take the highway or the byways – see directions on the listed Prynnsberg website.
Best time to visit
All year round; in winter the many fireplaces will keep you warm.
Things to do
Ficksburg, close by, has several attractions. Consult the listed website.
It's best to drive yourself to Prynnsberg.
What will it cost?
Enquire about the Manor room rates on the website. There is also the option of glamping.
Length of stay
Stay for a minimum of 2 nights.
What to pack
Walking shoes, camera, clothing for warm and cold conditions, as well as casual and formal clothing, canvases, writer's notebooks.
What to eat
Prynnsberg is available on a B&B, self-catering and fully catered-for basis. If you are catering for yourself, purchase your specialities before you drive down and buy the rest at the nearby towns of Clocolan or Ficksburg.