Tokai Manor Ghost

Everyone likes a ghost story and this house has one of the best in Cape Town.

This is the beautiful Tokai Manor House, just below Elephant’s Eye, in the Tokai forest.

Built in 1796, it was designed by Louis Thibault, a Frenchman, who was South Africa’s first architect and who designed many of our finest buildings – The Granary, Groot Constantia, Koopmans-De Wet House, and The Drostdy in Graaf-Reneit are just a few of the best still standing. He also redesigned what is now the Slave Lodge and the caricature on the pediment is his little dig at the hostilities between the French and the Brits.  Thibault had a hard time of it here because every time the government changed he lost his job, only to be reinstated when they realised he was good at what he did. As time went by he became somewhat isolated from European architectural trends and this is reflected in some of his work which, according to those in the know, shows individualism and deviations from the norm.

Back to the Manor House. The owner was financially ruined after building it and the estate was bought by the Eksteen family. At the time it was considered to be the most outstanding homestead on the peninsula. It’s unusual in that the front stoep is raised, a feature not seen in normal Cape-Dutch architecture.

The Eksteen family liked a good party and their wine cellars were renowned. The first Eksteen owner eventually went bankrupt but the lavish parties continued with his brothers who took over the estate. One New Year’s Eve they hosted the usual fabulous bash with many guests. Eksteen Senior dared his son Frederick  to ride his horse up the stairs and into the dining-room. Frederick was game and proceeded to prance around the dining room to the delight and encouragement of the guests. I doubt the servants were impressed after they’d spent all day polishing the floor but there is no record of their feelings on the matter.

Eksteen Junior finally departed the room on horseback and, in full view of all the guests,  the horse slipped on the very steep steps and both horse and rider fell to their deaths.

To this day, a ghostly horseman is often seen and heard in the house and surrounding forest, especially on new year’s eve.

The government of the time acquired the property in 1883 and used it as a reformatory for a while. In the 1960s it underwent massive restoration and was declared a National Monument.

Now, it is the very new home of the Table Mountain National Park. Their offices are often closed without explanation and phones go unanswered – blame the ghost!

Here’s a very cool site for Cape history and old photos Historical media

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

5 responses to “Tokai Manor Ghost

  1. Pingback: The mafia, the ghost and the garden | A pic a day from the Cape

  2. Pingback: Cape Town fires 2015 - Tours du Cap

  3. Pingback: We can see clearly again | A pic a day from the Cape

  4. Pingback: Cape Town fires 2015

  5. Pingback: Tokai Manor House revisited | A pic a day from the Cape

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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