The Secret behind the Story of Stanford

The Secret behind the Story of Stanford


When having a look at the history of Stanford, the struggles that Sir Robert Stanford, namesake to the village, faced in his life is well-known. History tells us that he served as a Captain in the British Army and immigrated to the Cape Colony with his wife and daughter after which they purchased the farm Kleine Riviers Vallei. We also know about the unfortunate circumstances where he became the victim of an anti-convict agitation and was ostracized because of his agreement with the protest. And that after seeking help from the British Government he returned to find his farm sold off.

However, if we dig a little deeper and look at the village before it was established in 1857, we uncover a whole new lesser known history of the tranquil countryside village. Here are a few snippets of information that we think you might find interesting:

  • Sir Robert Stanford was known as a progressive farmer who farmed with sheep cattle. Unknown to most, he used to ferry his produce to Cape Town via Stanford’s Cove situated at Gansbaai.
  • The story goes that the ghost of the now famous Spookhuis is that of a little old lady with parasol .
  • The area of Salmondsdam Nature Reserve was named after Captain Robert Salmond of the HMS Birkenhead disaster.
  • Built in 1785 by Christoffel Brandt, De Kleine Riviers Valey House is one of the oldest houses in the Overberg. Sir Robert Stanford and his family resisded in this very house for some time.
  • The next owner of the house, Johannes Andries Truter, was one of the Cape Colony’s first Residing Judges.
  • Coincidently Sir John Truter was also the first South African to be knighted. He was knighted by King George in 1820.
  • Sir Robert Stanford lived in the De Kleine Riviers Valey House from 1838.
  • Sir Robert Stanford was the second owner of the house to be knighted, he was knighted in 1850 by Queen Victoria.
  • The farm was later bought up by Phillipus de Bruyn at auction in 1855.
  • Duncan McFarlane finally bought the house in 1857 which became the first land/property transfer in Stanford.
  • Besides its royal residents, the House also hosted some of the survivors of the HMS Birkenhead survivors.
  • Legend has it that Sir Robert Stanford paid Phillipus de Bruyn £50 to name the village Stanford.

When having a good look at the history of Stanford, you really get to appreciate the struggles the folks of old made it through and we aim to remember that which seems to get lost as time goes by. From humble beginnings to housing great people of historical importance to unfortunate circumstances; when looking at the tranquil village we can honestly say there’s more to it than meets the eye.

The Secret behind the Story of Stanford

Candice Lombard

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