Bishopscourt at a glance
Bishopscourt nestles against the slopes of Table Mountain. The suburb derives its name from the residence of the Bishop of the Church of England of South Africa, which was built in the 1850s by Robert and Sophy Gray, the first Bishop of Cape Town. The property was established on the farm known as Boscheuwel, laid out in 1658, part of the farm Wijnberg, originally owned by Jan van Riebeek.
Highly valued real estate
Coveted by many, but lived in only by an elite few, Bishopscourt comprises some of the most valuable real estate, not only in South Africa, but possibly on the African continent too. It’s one of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs and was originally the site of Jan van Riebeeck’s farm, Boscheuwel. The hedge he planted in 1660 to protect the cattle of the Cape colonists still stands in Kirstenbosch. It can also be seen in Klaassens Road, opposite number 31. Over the years, the land has changed hands several times. One of the more famous legacies is to be found in Bishopscourt Village, where entrepreneur and philanthropist Isaac Ochberg left his mark. His rags-to-riches tale begins in 1895, when he fled anti-Semitism in the Ukraine and arrived penniless in the Cape. Gifted with an eye for a good investment, Ochberg saw the potential in land that other investors deemed useless. He was known to develop townships and sell off plots, even if it meant personally financing would-be buyers so they could build their own homes.
The chosen suburb of celebrities and dignitaries
At present, Bishopscourt, has approximately 350 properties, mainly, large family residences. It truly lives up to the term ‘leafy suburb’, most of the avenues, are lined with incredibly large trees, gracious oaks and lush gardens. A number of consulates and embassies have properties in the suburb, as their chosen residential address, a collection of local and international celebrities also have homes here. These are multi-million Rand homes, the views from almost all the properties are worth the price. The area also boasts a number of exclusive guest houses.
Bishopscourt is home to a fiercely proud and active resident’s association. Apart from gathering regularly for cocktails and street parties, they recently banded together, along with sponsors Greeff Properties and the Cape Town City Council, to rehabilitate the section of the Liesbeek River that borders their suburb. They transformed the area into an enchanting riverine garden, complete with a boardwalk for riverside meanders and a sprinkling of inviting little clearings with thoughtfully placed tree stumps for picnics in the shade. The project included the introduction of over 100 indigenous trees and has resulted in the re-establishment of an important ecological system.
A safe haven to raise a family
The population in Bishopscourt constitutes mostly families with young children, attracted to the area by its proximity to good schools and the nearby amenities of Cavendish, Wynberg and Newlands. Easy access to the motorway is also a plus, as the University of Cape Town is just a few motorway exits north, and a trip to the city takes just 15 minutes (granted, during peak traffic it takes a little longer). Cape Town International Airport and the beaches of False Bay are 20 minutes’ drives away, respectively. Residents enjoy a good level of security, since there are only a few entry and exit roads to the area. And even though it’s right under the mountain, it gets more sun than Newlands. People love this area, and tend to stay until they outgrow their houses. The prices are also more affordable and range from R2,5 million up to R6 million for properties sized between 500m2 and 1 000m2.
'The high security presence due to embassies and ambassadorial residences lends a sense of safety to the entire area,’ says Simon Raab, who for the last four years has been the driving force behind Greeff Properties’ expansion in Bishopscourt, Upper Claremont, Upper Kenilworth and Trovato. ‘Unlike many other suburbs, Bishopscourt faces north and gives spectacular views of the mountain. From some of the properties, you can see as far as the Hottentots Holland range and it’s also totally protected from the southeaster.’
An unprecedented sense of space
Bishopscourt has retained its property values in difficult times, since demand is well in excess of supply. ‘The entry level is a minimum of R8-million, and that’s likely to be a property with a house you’ll want to knock down and rebuild; in fact, a plot alone, in a good position, is more likely to come on the market at R12 million.’ But for Bishopscourt, these figures are small potatoes. The sprawling plots start at 4 000m2 and are highly unlikely to be subdivided, thanks to the laws set down by the very strong residents’ association.
The properties that you find in Bishopscourt range from newly built, modern, to older more traditional homes. The plot sizes range from 2000m² to over 9000m². This allows for architectural freedom in that space is not a problem and the homes can be designed to take in the slope of the plot and ensure that the amazing views of the mountain can be seen from almost any room. The properties on the Constantia side of “the ridge” have views over the Constantia vineyards to False Bay.
Easy access to shops, schools and Cape Town City
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, a world-renowned estate that covers 528 hectares, borders Bishopscourt along Rhodes Drive. Kirstenbosch Gardens has 36 hectares of cultivated gardens, displaying collections of indigenous South African plants, mainly those from the winter rainfall region of the Cape. On Sundays from December to March, musical sunset concerts are held on the lawns at Kirstenbosch, much enjoyed by young and old alike. Bishopscourt has access to the city via Rhodes Drive or the M3. A number of top schools, the University of Cape Town, as well as Cavendish Square Shopping Centre are in close proximity.
Bishopscourt is one of the most exclusive suburbs in which people aspire to, with its majestic views and established large grounds and the grand homes, it is one of the most sought after suburbs in the Greater Cape Town area.