Maynardville Park features rolling expanses of lawn populated with trees and a vibrant ecosystem of birds. There is also a water feature and children’s playground. The park is used to host a range of community activities throughout the year.
The park includes the famous Maynardville open-air theatre. This spectacular green gem has earned its reputation of being the best-loved outdoor theatre venue in the Cape! It is best known for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park productions which have been taking place over the past 50 years. The open-air theatre attracts an average attendance of 20 000 patrons per year, a strong focus of which is the Cape’s schools.
Some interesting trees that can be seen include the diagonally trunked Mediterranean cork oak (Quercus suber), which is a perfect tree for the beginner tree climber, three fine conical shaped swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) native to the southern United States, and the pale and elegant lemon-scented gum trees (Eucalyptus citriodora) in the library car park which are magnificent by day and ghostly by moonlight - crush a leaf before you leave!
One of the charms of the parks is the Krakeelwater, which resurfaces in Maynardville, broadening at one point into a pond. A large flock of cattle egrets roosts on the island. Other birds common to the area are Egyptian geese, moorhens, hadedas and sacred ibis, red-knobbed coots and reed cormorants. A wooden bridge crosses the stream where a short stretch of it can be seen in its natural state.
Maynardville Park is managed by the Maynardville Park Action Committee, a public-private partnership between the City of Cape Town and the Wynberg community.
Maynardville also hosts carnivals, fairs, markets, motor shows, wedding receptions, and religious gatherings.Features
- Maynardville Open-air Theatre
- Krakeelwater pond
- Water feature
- Play equipment
- Grassed area
- Public toilets
- Accessible to cyclists
- Dogs on leashes allowed
- Fenced off/enclosed area
Before it was named Maynardville, the land where the park now sits was government ground, first administered by the Dutch East India Company and after 1795 by other British authorities.
In July 1807, two young officers of the Cape regiment, Lieut. Louis Ellert and Lieut. Ernst Egger, married two sisters named Gertruida and Catherina Baartman. Just prior to his marriage, Ellert was granted a piece of land adjacent to the camp, where he built a cottage named Rosendal. The uneven ground was levelled and cultivated by slaves on either side of a stream known as the Krakeelwater, which flowed through the small estate.
For several years Ellert and his wife shared the house with her sister and husband until, in 1810, Egger decided to purchase a piece of ground adjacent to Rosendal for his own use. Ellert was later killed in the war on the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony, but because he had transferred ownership to his wife, the widow Ellert continued to manage her small farm successfully after her husband's death.
Her brother-in-law was not so efficient in his farming operations and this, coupled with his extravagant lifestyle, forced him into bankruptcy. The widow Ellert purchased his property, and in order to do this and support her large household, she took a bond on it from a Cape Town businessman named James Mortimer Maynard.
In 1836, Maynard took over Rosendal from the widow Ellert, who had become insolvent. He later bought another property from her to make up the site for his home, Maynard's Villa.
Maynard died on 9 September 1874. As he failed to produce an heir, his estate went to his nephew, William Mortimer Maynard Farmer, who was already an established businessman.
Farmer married the daughter of Major Richard Wolfe, then resident magistrate and civil commissioner of Wynberg. Their daughter Enid married John Bernard, a major in the Royal
Marines - they had two sons, Gerald and Brian. Enid Bernard died in 1949. The dilapidated homestead was demolished in 1954 after Gerald sold Maynardville to the City of Cape Town, which has preserved the grounds as a public park.
In 1949, the park was visited by the ladies of the Athlone Committee for Nursery Education – a charitable organisation from the Cape Flats – who were interested in establishing an open air theatre, as a fundraiser for schools in disadvantaged communities. With written permission from
the Cape Town Municipality, they built the theatre by hand, and opened it with a ballet performance (Les Sylphides) on 1 December 1950. The first three years’ performances raised enough money to build a nursery school and a Teachers Training College in Athlone.
In 1953, encouraged by the immense success, the members of the Athlone Committee approached two imaginative actresses Cecilia Sonnenberg and Rene Ahrenson, and invited them to start Shakespearean plays at Maynardville. After initial reluctance, these two talented actresses began planning the first Shakespearean season. With assistance from the Cape Town Municipality and the Athlone Committee members, they renovated the theatre and launched the Shakespearean performances in 1956 with the staging of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ by the Spotlight Theatre Company. Performances (of both Shakespearean seasons and ballet) have continued ever since, in this enchanting setting.
Cecilia and Rene retired in the mid-1990s and most of the theatre's drama department closed when they left. However, the park still maintains its Shakespeare series through the Maynardville Theatre Trust and Artscape. The statue of William Shakespeare, just visible through the gate, once stood above the Juta & Co Building. It was snapped up by two ladies and placed in its present appropriate position.
Before the summer performances, patrons usually gather on the lawns and enjoy a picnic under the stars. Today the open air theatre is a much loved part of Cape Town’s cultural scene.
For more information, visit Maynardville Open-Air Theatre
Maynardville Facility Management Office
Tel: 021 444 8849 (Mon - Fri, 07:30 - 16:00)
Fax: 086 576 1243