Drosdy Museum

A Virtual visit to our South African Heritage

To serve as residence and official headquarters for the Landdrost, The Drostdy was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1747. Soon after a gaol, a house for the secretary, a mill and various outbuildings were erected.

The first Landdrost to be appointed to this district was Johannes Theophilus Rhenius and he was assisted by a board of burger heemraden and subordinates like secretary and a gaoler as well as many slaves. From 1827 the Drostdy was occupied by the civil commissioner who, with the resident magistrate, replaced the board of Landdrost and heemraden when they were abolished by the British colonial government.

In 1846 the government sold the Drostdy and the property was subdivided. In 1855 the former Drostdy was bought by the Steyn family and it remained in the hands of this family until 1939 when it was bought by the government of the Union of South Africa for the purpose of establishing a museum.


  • Furniture -  the different styles of furniture that were fashionable in this district throughout the building’s history as an official residence.
  • Building - originally built using clay and unbaked brick in earth mortar, the Drostdy was extensively renovated in 1825
  • Garden - the corner plot is all that remains of the once magnificent garden 
  • Exhibitions - Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu  - both are African and world Icons, both received the Nobel Peace Prize and both were awarded the Honorary Citizenship of Swellendam.
  • Parlour - furnished in the style of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century.
  • Dining Room - furnished in the Regency style combining Cape furniture with mall imported pieces and covers the period from about 1825-1850.
  • Kitchen and Pantry - the kitchen which was a large open hearth (on which various iron and copper cooking utensils are displayed) and the pantry which was used for food storage and provided a cool place where butter could be processed.
  • Bedrooms - furnished with tester beds and settees in the Cape baroque and neoclassical style.
  • North Wing - this wing of the building is all that remains of the original 1747 Drostdy.
  • Portraits - depicting descendents of Hendrik Swellengrebel who was the Governor at the Cape from 14 April 1739 until 27 February 1751.
  • The Ambagswerf (Trade Yard) - the trades represented here were practiced in Swellendam in the early years of white settlement. It was here that provisions were purchased and repairs to wagons and other equipment were made.
  • The Old Gaol - built shortly after the Drostdy and was originally a simple, long building with lean-to cells at the rear.
  • Mayville House Museum - the ground on which Mayville is situated was originally part of the Drostdy property before it was sold to the Cape government in 1846.


The Drostdy Museum Complex also houses two top restaurants:

  • Field & Fork - in the old Gaol Complex +27 (0)28 514-3430
  • Drostdy Restaurant - in the Zanddrift Building +27 (0)28 514-3825


Please note we are closed on 25 & 26 December and 01 January.

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