Situated on the historic farm of "The Knoll" in Hilton, Natal Midlands, the Knoll has a rich history of hospitality. It has catered for early transport riders, passing troops and even Jan Smuts. Since 1850 the knoll has variously been a farm, hunting lodge, hotel, school, country estate and family home.The views from the Guesthouse are stunning, looking over rolling farmlands and forests right through to the Southern Berg in the North and Alveston in the South.
In January 1850 John Philip Zietsman was granted a large area of land in what was known as Groene Kloof. He was the first Landdrost of Pietermaritzburg and stayed behind when the Voortrekkers returned to the Orange Free State and Transvaal. He lived in a small cottage on the property but incurred a debt of £250 with a Cape Town transport firm called J.Seawright and Co. He offered a small part of his property in payment – 250 acres in extent which became Sub Lot 2 and known as Bloomfield Height.
J. Seawright and Co. had the property for 10 years until 1860 and used it as a trading post cum hotel for the first pull up out of Pietermaritzburg for the transport wagons. They stopped for the night before continuing on to the Witwatersrand. Portions of the old hotel and barn remain with a turning area at the front for wagons. Remnants of the wagon tracks can still be seen at the back of the property.
Bloomfield Height was then bought by John Ireland a famous wagon maker. He was born in Ipswich, England in 1835 and married in Pietermaritzburg in 1860. He used the house mainly as a country residence. During his occupancy the foundations of the famous Himalayan azalea garden was laid and also a typical Cape Dutch oak tree avenue was planted which is still in existence today. John Ireland died in 1898.
The next owner was a Mrs Augusta Boden who also had it for 30 years until 1925. During this time (1915-1918) a small private school for boys was established called St. Peter's, but it only lasted for about four years. Mrs Boden and her daughter Gwen ran the farm. Gwen was a tall strapping young woman who usually wore riding clothes. The farm at this time was now known as The Knoll. When Gwen married, she and her mother went to England.
Then came the more recent and well known owners in 1925 - the Hendries. David Hendrie was born in Inverness, Scotland and immigrated to Natal in 1902. On the 8th January 1903 he became locomotive superintendent in Durban. He was commissioned to design the first separate tender engine which was introduced in 1904 of which 25 were ordered by Natal Government Railways.
Guest accommodation is tastefully decorated to suit luxurious tastes and offers first class facilities in an "olde" world setting as well as more modest facilities to suit and budget traveller. Accommodation is self catered and serviced.
Although on a farm we are within easy distance to the city, shopping centres, restaurants, pubs and entertainment centres.
Your stay in the Midlands offers a great variety of interesting activities. You can Wyle your way in the greenness and mist with 130 odd identified species of bird life on the farm or you can divide your time between culture and action. Culturally there are various things on offer:
- The Hilton Arts Festival (at the right time of year!)
- Art In the Park
- Active Theatres
- Music Venues
And of course The Knoll is situated at the start of the Midlands Meander, a delightful excursion in one of the most beautiful regions in South Africa.
If you are in chill mode, the odd good conversation and the expectation of a new day in paradise all await you!
Not only does the Knoll offer accommodation but a venue in the old rustic milking parlour for various functions be they weddings or parties!
The Knoll offers three different options for you to be able to celebrate your special day.
Please note that for ALL three options we cater for parking (up to 250 cars) security, accommodation for 26 people, ablution facilities, and a stunning setting for your big day.
All other hiring needs, including tables and chairs, will be at your own undertaking, to allow you to custom make your perfect wedding.
- Reception in the Barn
After having said your vows in one of the midlands many wonderful chapels, come and have your reception in our 19th century stone barn. Rustic but absolutely charming and beautiful, with space to seat up to 120 people.
- Marquee in the Garden
Our second option is a marquee in the garden, surrounded by enchanting views on all sides, whether you are having an afternoon or an evening wedding.
Please note that hiring of marquee would be your responsibility.
- Open Garden Ceremony, with Reception in The Barn
Our last option is a beautiful garden style ceremony, where you can say your vows with the backdrop of The Knoll gardens overlooking The Southern Berg, followed by a reception in our gorgeous barn.
The weather in Hilton does not always allow it, however, so choose your month carefully!