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Situated in the Overberg (over the mountain from Cape Town) in South Africa, is the small village of Stanford. Established in 1857 it retains an old quiet charm. Stanford is not an ordinary village. It is a village with a river running through it. It is a village watched over by a friendly mountain. Birds abound. Wine cellars, a micro brewery, local cheeses, restaurants (saves cooking), and antique shops. On the farms surrounding the village "fynbos" species flower through out most of the year. 15km down the road watch whales (in season) from the cliffs or from a light aircraft. Go shark diving. If you feel the pace is too much for you the beach is only 20km away.
Stanford is an ideal base from which to explore the Overberg region. From the southern most point of Africa to beautiful hand made candles or even a casino. To witness the kilometres of rolling green wheat fields splashed with bright yellow canola flowers that seem to form waves as the wind blows across them. Take a picnic basket to a beach that disappears in the distance around a bend in the shoreline. You will definitely not want to go home.
Stanford was awarded the Best Village Destination in the South African Destination Awards in 2012.
Sample the local beer - Birkenhead Brewery with a sweeping view over the mountains, brews Premium lager, Honey Blond Ale, Birkenhead Pride and Malt Stout. All with a unique taste. Come and sample their wares.
Quad biking - If horses are too tame for you try quad biking. Telephone 082-545-5078.
Antiques and collectables - The New Junk Shop; you will need to travel far to find another antique shop carrying such a variety and quality of old "stuff". The original farmhouse of Sir Robert Stanford houses art, crafts and collectables. Also visit the Stanford Trading Store if you are looking for something different to use as décor in your home. TAT provides "something old, something new". Although there is no bank in Stanford, a number of ATM's are available.
Restaurants - Mariana's Home Deli & Bistro, winner two years in a row of the best country restaurant award. You need to book well in advance for her popular lunches. Something traditionally English, try Havercrofts, open for lunch Thursday to Sunday. Evergrine farm stall for tea/coffee at 10 with fresh scones and cream (from the local Klein River farm) or a farm breakfast. Madre's Kitchen provides scrumptious breakfasts and lunches next to the farm dam, while the pizzas at the Art's Café are to die for. Morton Square provides the best coffee in town, whilst KC's Restaurant is open 7 days a week and always offers a good deal. If these eateries are not to your taste, Hermanus has a large variety of restaurants. Coffee On The Rocks at De Kelders is the best place for enjoying a meal whilst watching the whales play in Walker Bay.
Property - If you enjoy Stanford as much as we think you will, and wish to move here like we did, visit Stanford Village Properties.
De Kelders, Baardskeerdersbos, Elim and environs - about 100km. Whale watching, walks in a forest, an arty village and photogenic Moravian missionary village. More...
Napier, Bredasdorp and Cape Agulhas - about 250km return. Visit the Southern most point of Africa and en-route enjoy views of rolling hills, perhaps a sighting of our national bird, do a bit of shopping and visit the Shipwreck Museum. More...
Village market - The village market is held every last Friday evening of the month (except December when it's held a week before Christmas, and an additional market in early January) from 18:00 to 20:00 weather permitting - at the market square in summer (follow the signs). Enjoy local food, wine and beer whilst browsing for crafts and listening to live music.
Saturday morning market - Every Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00, weather permitting at Stanford square in the main road. Homegrown farm produce, freshly baked breads and pastries, free range eggs and more...
Baardskeerdersbos Art Route - Held one weekend every three months. Contact (028) 341-0957 or (028) 341-0430 for details. More about Baardskeerdersbos and the art route - travel article as it appeared in Die Burger, Afrikaans newspaper.
Whale watching - July to November each year (see "things to do"). The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place annually, during the last week of September.
Stanford Birding Fair - First weekend in October.
The old village of Stanford is a proclaimed heritage site in terms of the South African Heritage Resources Act. Strict building rules apply to maintain the architectural heritage of the village.
Robert Stanford was born in 1806 in the Irish village of Ballina in county Mayo. At the age of 32 he resigned his commission from the British Army and retired on half-pay. He and his wife emigrated to the Cape Colony and purchased the farm Kleine Rivier's Valley the present site of the village of Stanford.
Robert Stanford was a progressive farmer so much so that instead of transporting his produce over the mountain by ox wagon he purchased a small ship a sailed to Cape Town from a cove 12 miles from his farm. Apart from Kleine Rivier's Valley he purchased seven other farms in the Colony.
In 1849 the British Government decided to send 300 Irish "convicts" to the Cape. The Colonists resolved that if the "convicts" were to arrive, the Government or anyone associated with them would not be supplied with provisions or services. In this way they hoped to force the Government to send the "convicts" to Australia. The convict ship Neptune did arrive and the resolution was brought into force. So effective was the blockade that the Governor approached Robert Stanford, who was still in the employ of Her Majesty, to supply the government with provisions. If he refused a state of martial law would be declared and the supplies taken by force. Realising that people could be killed he agreed to supply the provisions.
The Neptune sailed away with the "convicts" but the people of the colony blamed Stanford for going against the resolution of the whole community and he was completely ostracized. His children were barred from going to school and even when his youngest daughter fell ill the doctor refused to attend to her resulting in her death. His exclusion from the community was complete.
He sailed to England to ask for compensation for his losses and was knighted and paid 5 000 pounds. On returning to the Cape he found that his farms had been stripped and through devious means many of them sold. His future in the Cape was bleak and he went back to England where he died a virtual pauper at the age of 70.
Phillippus de Bruyn bought the Kleine Rivier's Valley farm from Stanford at an auction. On 30 September 1857 he sold the first plot of the new village he decided to call Stanford.
(Reference: Stanford Stories 11)