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Victorian-era romance

The beautiful garden, roses blooming almost year-round, the magnificent old-fashioned water features, gazebo and angel figurines all take you back to a long-forgotten era.

A time when ladies enjoyed a cup of tea in delicate porcelain cups, while eating slices of delicious cake and sharing local gossip with their friends.

Rambling Rose is on the same premise as De Ark Guesthouse, which offers a selection of self-catering or B&B accommodation.

This beautiful old building in Kantoor Street is one of the oldest in Lydenburg that is still standing. It has been restored to its former glory by Francis le Roux.

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Francis came to this town in 2002 and immediately fell in love with the old building, at that stage rather in disrepair, and decided to buy and restore it.

It has a rich history and was the first parsonage of the Dutch Reformed Church, built in 1856.

In 1893, it was converted into a double-storey building when the dominee’s wife had to accommodate the confirmands who had to stay over in the parsonage for catechism.

After a year’s sourcing for period furniture, buckets of paint and days and weeks of hard work, the premises was ready for opening.

“I found the inspiration for the name of the tea garden under a teacup, and not inside, among the tea leaves,” Francis jokingly says.

“One day, when I decided to start a tea garden, I was drinking tea. When I turned the cup over, the name of the set was printed on the back and there and then I found the perfect name.

“From the very start I wanted this to be a Victorian tea garden, as the house was built in that era and all the rooms in the guest house are also done in a period style. In the tea garden we use beautiful old cups to add to the splendour and elegance of the experience.”

Rambling Rose Tea Garden is open six days of the week and only closes on a Sunday. Not only do they serve the finest tea, aromatic brewed coffee or refreshing home-made iced tea in the garden or beautiful tea room, but also a variety of light meals and sweet delicacies.

On chilly mornings, when the weather doesn’t allow a glorious day in the garden, the crackling fireplace is the ideal place to be.

An added bonus to this charming venue is the fact that it is open from 7am, as the kitchen is ready to prepare breakfast for the guests. It closes at 4pm.

Francis is very hands-on. She not only knows how to make her patrons feel perfectly at home, but also has many entrepreneurial skills.

The Napoleon Theatre on the second floor of the old parsonage hosts musicians and actors for shows during the year, and movie evenings with popcorn and a glass of soda are a popular pastime with the people of Lydenburg.

The guest house also has a small pub inside, The Fickle Fox Bar, where guests can enjoy a glass or two before dinner.

For many citizens of Pretoria and Johannesburg, De Ark Guesthouse is a lovely weekend breakaway, especially when there is a show or two on at the theatre.

Over the past decade or so, with hard work and dedication, Francis has made a huge success of this enterprise. The secret? She says the people who cross her threshold are the biggest joy of her work.

“I love to meet new faces and I am energised by other people’s zest for life. Everyone who you meet has his or her own story. To see how others appreciate the atmosphere here and enjoy the food and drinks that we serve has keep me going.”

Contact 013-235-1125 or visit www.dearkguesthouse.co.za

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