Thomas Earl Skaife bought the estate from the Cape Marine Suburbs in 1911. He sold it to Friedrich Wilhelm Knacke in 1920 who named the estate Earl's Dyke. Knacke demolished the original house in 1929 and built on it a house to be envied. This house designed by William Grant still remains today.
"The site itself is one to be envied, for the house is built on a spur of the mountain that juts out between two ravines. Each of these ravines has been treated in a natural manner, with paths falling through flowering shrubs and indigenous trees to streams. In one of these is a waterfall, below which has been built an open-air swimming pool, entirely shaded by the tall side of the ravine. It is nature aided by subtleties that pass as Nature's handiwork." Cape Argus December 1929 "
Trude Knacke (Friedrich Wilhelm Knacke's daughter) inherited Earl's Dyke in 1945. She recalls many fond childhood memories of the place, especially of the old natural pool which is now known as the 'meditation pool'. The seventies styled brick pool-house on the terrace (now our Wellness Centre) was built comparatively recently in 1985.
In 2002 Maree Brink, backed by his close business associates, his parents, the late Mr Eugene Brink and Hannetjie Brink, attorney Pierre Le Roux, Johannes Lategan and Roelof Troskie took over custodianship of Earl's Dyke from Trude.
In 2003, the neighbouring property, 3 Chilworth, was acquired, renovated, renamed Deck House and incorporated into the estate. In contrast with the formal Earl's Dyke Manor, Deck House has been developed along clean modern lines with plenty of sunlight and large wooden decks. The Deck House has an exclusive pool and all the rooms have private decks.
The Villa, a further neighbouring property, was the latest addition to the estate in 2005.
The vision of the new custodians is to establish a private nature reserve and retreat with extensive gardens, a nursery and a re-established natural forest. The extensive gardens at Camps Bay Retreat have undergone a fair amount of upgrading and development and they will continue to grow and be developed.
In 2004 a hanging bridge that joins the neighbouring properties was constructed. The bridge links the two properties, Earl's Dyke Manor and the Deck House, to create a unique setting surrounded by nature, sea and utmost natural beauty.
The rehabilitation process includes removing as many as possible of these invader species.The trees which are not removed must be pollarded in order to let more sunlight through. Thereafter, the layer of leaf mass from the invader trees must be removed to prepare a seedbed. This process is followed by scarification of soil and sowing of primary seeds to stabilise bare patches. With more sunlight, these seeds will germinate easily. Once it has been stabilised, the planting can be augmented those plants grown in containers, which is more valuable. At this stage, trees can also be introduced.
Through our Heritage Lounge we like to share our wonderful history and heritage with our guests, so they can become just as excited and intrigued by how Camps Bay Retreat came to be, as we are.
South Africa is a multi-ethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution’s recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. There are eleven official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu. Fewer than two percent of South Africans speak a first language other than an official one. South Africa is truly a Rainbow Nation and we understand and embrace that. In our Heritage Lounge we try to depict as many cultures and histories as we can - we try to link each of these to a valued employee of Village & Life. This makes the cultural experience so much more personal and relevant.
German Heritage features prominently in the form of Mr. Knacke’s story and history. As seen in our history section, he was the original owner of Earl’s Dyke, and our guests always find it interesting to see how the property has progressed and changed - or in some cases stayed the same - from Mr. Knacke’s time.
Other heritages and explanations in our Heritage Lounge include Indian heritage, British heritage, Coloured heritage and Xhosa heritage. For each of these histories, we have chosen a staff member to represent and explain their background and heritage. Indian heritage features Caamil Latchman, our famous barman, British heritage features Robyn Copendale, our restaurant custodian, Coloured heritage shows Zeta Vlotman, our recruitment specialist while Xhosa heritage shows mama Sheila Bobe, our very best housekeeper.
Maree Brink, owner of Camps Bay Retreat, explains that the Heritage Lounge was born from the curiosity of mostly European, Malaysian and Indonesian guests, who would often wonder about their contribution to Africa. It is a natural inclination to wonder about one’s ancestors - the Heritage Lounge provides easy access to guests who are often too shy to ask about the different mix of cultures and heritages in South Africa. This is an interesting form of reverse ‘Root Tourism’, and increasingly we have found that with American tourists it works the other way around - they come to find their roots in Africa.
The Heritage Lounge reflects perfectly how the eclectic mix of our Rainbow Nation fits together - it celebrates South African culture and shows our guests how proud each and every South African is of his or her heritage.