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Sale of ex-pats’ historic collection

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Auctioneer's hammer will fall on the fascinating contents of a grand 64-room mansion in Constantia

Strauss & Co will  on November 18 auction the entire contents of Harcroft House, an imposing and historic 64-room Arts and Crafts mansion at the end of Norton Dingle Drive in the heart of Constantia.

The 558 lots to be sold during three sessions – at 9.30am, 12.30pm and 4pm – are open for viewing November  16 and 17 at 10am and 5pm.

Harcroft House has remained untouched for 70 years and represents the end of an era.

British-born Charles Rycroft and his wife, Muriel, ran Harcroft Rubber Estates in Malaysia until the Japanese invasion in 1941.

In the 1950s, they retired to Cape Town and purchased a property in Constantia, renaming it Harcroft as it reminded them of their much-loved home in Malaysia.

Previously owned by the Baxter family, who cultivated the arts in the Cape, the mansion became the perfect setting for the antiques, works of art and collectables acquired by the Rycrofts in Malaysia and Britain and in travels to China, Japan and the US.

Seven years after Muriel’s death in 1974, Charles married Louise Jackson, animal lover and philanthropist, and the couple gave invaluable assistance to The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust through the Harcroft Foundation. Charles died in 1998 and Louise left the house untouched to preserve his legacy, living there until her death in 2014, aged 106.

The varied collection of fascinating memorabilia on auction includes Oriental ivories, scroll paintings, porcelain, silver and furniture including several clocks, such as an early 20th century mahogany tubular chiming long-case by Smith & Son Ltd, London, expected to fetch up to R100000 on Monday.

Among the selection of Chinese works is a set of four ink and colour paintings from the Early Republic period painted with birds and flowering trees (up to R100000) and, from the 19th century, a set of 10 large Chinese ink and colour panels of court scenes (R100000).

For more details about the auction at Harcroft House, one of the last remaining grand residences in Constantia, and informative lectures this weekend, call 0216836560 or 0780448185 or email

The Strauss & Co auction to be held on Monday does not include the elegant arts and craft-styled mansion itself but is confined to its fascinating contents.


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