Kenilworth at a glance
In the late 1800s, Cape Town was such a popular city to live in that soon it became crowded. At this time, an affluent class of people emerged who were searching for new villages to escape from the crowded city. The blissfully quiet suburbs of Wynberg Hill, Rondebosch and Claremont were established to the south of the city and attracted the elite. Soon, the construction of austere homes with beautiful, impressive gardens increased.
Kenilworth, however, wasn’t part of the new development. In fact, it was originally a subdivision of the most famous property in the area, Stellenberg, which extended to most of where Kenilworth and Claremont exist today. Dutch officials originally used the area as kennels to house their hunting dogs. The farm, with its beautifully preserved Cape Dutch homestead, which is now the Ovenstone family home, is a national monument and is as impressive as when the Dutch settled there. It boasts medieval, fruit and vegetable, and monastery gardens, which are open to the public on certain days of the year, while the nursey is open on Saturdays.
The Kenilworth Racecourse
A well-known attraction in Kenilworth is the Kenilworth Racecourse. Horseracing, known as the ‘sport of kings,’ draws local and international visitors each year. Steeped in history, Kenilworth Racecourse is the oldest racecourse in South Africa, as it dates back to the first British occupation of the Cape. The first horseracing event was held in 1795, even though the official founding date is 1802.
The racecourse encompasses 52 hectares of natural fynbos, the largest conservation area within an urban environment known as the southern suburbs. It is a seasonal wetland and is also the natural habitat of 310 plant species, 34 of which are threatened. Furthermore, it is home to 11 amphibians, including the critically endangered Micro Frog and Cape Platanna. The conservancy supports a reptile, bird and small mammal community and is used for educational programmes, making it an educationally and environmentally valuable area.
Each year, two of the most prestigious horseracing events, the Queen’s Plate and the J&B Met, take place at Kenilworth Racecourse.
Upmarket Homes in Kenilworth
Although it is well established, one of Kenilworth’s charms is its high-street culture and leafy, village-like charm, making it a popular choice for young couples and families. It boasts beautiful upmarket homes, many of which Sir Herbert Baker designed in the Arts and Crafts style of the early 1900s, while other homes with “Broekie Lace” detailing and wrap-around balconies, are typically Victorian. Gardens are large and perfect for children to spend time outdoors playing with their pets. Apartment blocks with high-ceilinged, spacious rooms, both modern and pre-war, are situated in and close by Main Road. These suit the needs of young adults who enjoy being within walking distance to shops and restaurants, perfectly. Small townhouse complexes are also an option in upper Kenilworth, as well as complexes neatly tucked away between Main Road and the railway line.
Greeff's Debbie Woods, who is a specialist in this area says, “Many homes in the Upper Kenilworth area (roads such as Highwick and Oak Avenues) have escaped the ravages of subdivision, with erven of 1 000m² and up, while some of the larger historical homes, such as Highlands House and Greenways in Upper Claremont, have been converted into upmarket guesthouses, effectively raising the bar in the area. Though homes requiring renovation occasionally pop up in this market, the starting price of R5 million for a relatively modest home is the norm, due to the size of properties and the sought after factor of living here. Currently, a compact three-bedroomed home on an erf of 730m² is on the market for just under R4-million, while a three-bedroomed townhouse in a security complex has its starting price at R2.9-million.” Debbie Woods believes Kenilworth remains popular owing to its central position, proximity to highways and shops, such as Cavendish Square, and good schools.
Some of the best schools in the Western Cape are located in and around Kenilworth. These include Beau Soleil Music Centre, Cedar House, Greenfield Girls Primary, Michael Oak Waldorf School, and Voortrekker High School, one of the few Afrikaans-medium schools in the southern suburbs.
The shops are an easy drive to Claremont where there are plenty of speciality shops to choose from, as well as famous Cavendish Square. Access Park, a complex of factory outlet shops, lies adjacent to another large mall, Kenilworth Centre. Living in Kenilworth allows easy access to charming Simon’s Town by railway and quick access to the M3 and M5 motorways. The suburb has superb restaurants and a hospital offering excellent medical care.
Kenilworth is definitely a good choice for those seeking a new, happy home in Cape Town.