Sammy Marks Museum (Pretoria)
Overview of the Sammy Marks Museum
Step back into the past and relive life as it was enjoyed a century ago. At Sammy Marks Museum you can experience Victorian style at its best. This grand mansion, known as Zwartkoppies Hall, is located about 23 km outside of Pretoria.
Largely thanks to the foresight of Sammy Marks, Zwartkoppies Hall is unique in that it is the only Victorian mansion in the country whose interior is preserved intact and wholly authentic. Sammy Marks declared in his will that the house with all its contents are to be preserved for four generations after he dies.
Soaked in atmosphere, this magnificent house museum has managed to retain the relaxed ambience of a family home. Visitors will enjoy the facilities available at Sammy Marks Museum, which includes a fully licensed tea-garden, picnic on the lawns, croquet on the lush lawns, and the curio and gift shop. Guided tours of the Sammy Marks House are held regularly.
History of the Sammy Marks House
Mr. Sammy Marks was South Africa's first real industrialist and entrepreneur, and after coming to South Africa in 1868, and many ventures and adventures, Sammy Marks decided to make good on his favorite saying: "If you want something done right, do it yourself".
Along with his wife, Bertha, Sammy Marks supervised everything to do with his new house, especially the ordering of the materials, which was transported from Durban by ox-wagon, and used to decorate this 40+ room house.
Bertha Marks shared her husband's energy and love of life, and managed the house and its 14+ staff members with great aplomb. Amongst her hobbies, which included keeping chickens, gardening and entertaining on a lavish scale, Bertha still found time to raise her eight children.
The Marks family house is testimony to the grand scale on which they lived and entertained. Luncheons, croquet, tennis and billiards, and massive parties were all regular events, with often no fewer than 30 guests present.
Mr. Sammy Marks has a very interesting history, starting from the humblest of beginnings, and eventually turning the industrial landscape of South Africa around. You can read more about the fascinating history of this dynamic man here.
Review of the Sammy Marks Museum
If you though Melrose House was impressive, you haven't seen Sammy Marks House yet! This house is truly mind-blowingly impressive, and looked like the perfect venue to play some real-life Cluedo! The atmosphere in this mansion is warm and inviting...
The only way to see Sammy Marks Museum is to join a guided tour. Our tour guide was very well informed about Sammy Marks and the history of both the former residents and Zwartkoppies Hall. It would seem that Mr. Sammy Marks was a very interesting character indeed, having entertained both Boer and Brith in his mansion.
The rule in this museum is "do not touch", and I can absolute understand why. All the contents of the interior are original, with just the odd curtain being exact replicas.
Being so rich in history and atmosphere, it is not surprising that Sammy Marks Museum has its own resident ghost... Your tour guide will definitely point this out and give you a bit of fun historic information about this eternal resident.
The grounds on which Sammy Marks Museum is located is also full of activities. Visitors can enjoy pre-packed picnic lunches anywhere under the trees on the massive green garden lawns, remember to book beforehand! Croquet is also a firm favorite with visitors.
If you are interested in the Victorian era, or the beginnings of South Africa's industrial landscape, Sammy Marks Museum is definitely worth a visit. Bring the whole family!