Search for Kensington Castle owner

The Kensington Castle is one of several heritage buildings in the suburb.

What started off as something described as a fairy tale romance has now changed into a story of mystery and intrigue.

It would appear the owner of the castle in Highland Road, Mr Marius van der Spek, is nowhere to be found.

According to an article on The Heritage Portal’s website, no one, including his half-sister, seems to know what has happened to him. The article states that the property has fallen into disrepair with sources stating Mr Van Der Spek has abandoned his inheritance.

The search, it would seem, started more than a year ago. In July 2013, a member of the public stated that even Mr Van Der Spek’s friends could not locate him.

Earlier this year, another member of the public stated that she had heard the castle may have been sold. An acquaintance of hers apparently went into the property and was told by a man on the grounds that his brother had bought the castle, was renovating it, and intended opening it to the public.

The Heritage Portal received an e-mail from Mr Van Der Spek’s half-sister recently.

The following was quoted in the article: “I’ve just scrolled through the thread regarding Kensington Castle, located at 127 Highland Road. I am the youngest sibling of Marius van der Spek (he is my half-brother) and the late WJ van der Spek was my father too. I was a mere five years old when my father bought the castle and started renovating it.

“Our family resided in Cyrildene and over weekends we would stay at the castle until my father retired from the transport business. We, as a family, relocated to the Western Cape to live at Klein Vredenburg, 155 Main Street in Paarl, another heritage site which my late father lovingly renovated into a family home.

“Is there any update on the whereabouts of my brother, who I last saw at my sister’s wedding in 1986 and last spoke to on my wedding day in October of 1995?”

She added that she was shocked to learn that Mr Van der Spek had abandoned his inheritance and wanted an update with regards to the new ownership of the castle.

Mrs Lornette Joseph, the chairperson of the I Love Kensington Association (Ilka), said while the Kensington Castle is private property, any home in Kensington that is left abandoned is of great concern to Ilka.

“However, the Kensington Castle, along with the other heritage sites in the suburb, holds a special place in our hearts and are certainly at the forefront of our visions for Kensington,” she said.

Ilka also tried to trace Mr Van Der Spek but to no avail.

“Ilka formed a close relationship with the Kensington Heritage Trust and we are working together to try and get to the bottom of not only finding Mr Van der Spek, but also to find out the truth behind the ownership and the state of the home. Ilka’s priority is not only helping to preserve the heritage of this suburb but the safety of the residents of Kensington and the infrastructure is of paramount importance. Any home standing open is an invitation to be stripped and is an invitation for people to move in. This will affect the home owners around the castle, the suburb of Kensington and Mr Van der Spek’s own legacy.

“The building is a beautiful one and the history behind it is romantic, to have it sitting empty is sad. While we would love that the property and home be opened to the public, we understand that this cannot always be the case. We want someone who will love the castle, take care of it and understand the history behind it. We want someone who will respect that the home comes with a past and not just bash down walls or demolish the house. We would love it to go to someone who will restore it,” said Mrs Joseph.

According to a property report obtained by the EXPRESS, the property still belongs to Mr Van der Spek. Mr James Ball, from The Heritage Portal, urges anyone who has information on the whereabouts of Mr Van der Spek to add details to the discussion thread on the website, www.heritageportal.co.za

Alternatively, e-mail [email protected]

According to an article on the City of Johannesburg’s website, www.joburg.org.za, the castle was constructed in 1911. It was constructed with stone taken from the koppie. It was built by Englishman Samuel Scott Wilson for Kate MacKirdie, who agreed to marry him on condition that he built her a castle. It is said that the castle was modelled on the Rothsay Castle in Scotland. The Van der Spek family purchased the property in 1973.

@JoziReporter

  AUTHOR
Chitra Bodasing
News Editor

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