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Old Jail turned into guest house and art gallery

The Old Jail guest house in Willowmore in the Eastern Cape will go under the hammer on April 6.

Built in the 1880s, the building ceased to be a prison in the 1960s and was subsequently bought and sold by several private owners. It currently serves as a four-star graded and AA superior-rated guest house and art gallery, says auctioneer Frederick Bekker of Van Rensburgs Auctions.

The present owners purchased the estate of about 1.1862ha in 2010, after the building had been uninhabited for 12 years, then spent two years restoring and converting the jail into a castle-like building.

“A new swimming pool and dungeon wine cellar were built, the courtyards were landscaped and the gardens laid out. There is also a fruit orchard.”

The Victorian building, with painted quoins on the corners, is massive and solid, Bekker says.

“The rock walls were built on a one-metre solid rock foundation. Many rooms have Oregon pine ceilings and floors.”

The estate includes seven rentable en-suite bedrooms with air-conditioning and flatscreen TVs, a large dining/reception area/art gallery, an extra dining room, a lounge, a main kitchen, a kitchenette, a TV room, an office, an en-suite main bedroom, a guest toilet, a linen room, a laundry and a water feature filled with koi fish.

Three of the guest rooms and the manager/owner’s section are in the main jail building, which measures about 1000m² under roof.

The other four guest rooms are housed in the former stables, which cover about 200m².

The building’s special features include three Victorian fireplaces, hand-crafted doors made of railway sleepers and Oregon pine antique jail doors, complete with peep holes and locks.

It also contains a collection of antique safes, handcuffs and chains from the 1880s, antique weapons and collectors’ pieces and a historic courtroom table.

The art gallery features Margaret Stephensen tapestries, Gerhard Batha oils and watercolours, and original works by other South African and European artists, Bekker says.

Covered parking for two cars and a parking area for about 10 cars complete the property.

Security measures include full fencing with automatic gates, an intercom with camera at the gate, and security cameras.

The auction will be held on site at The Old Jail, Blignaut Street, Willowmore, at 11am on April 6.

For more details call Van Rensburgs Auctions on 044878
2877, Frederick Bekker on 0713647307 or see

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