The heritage of the original Fancourt estate owner, Henry Fancourt White, is celebrated at The Manor House – the crown of the Garden Route’s five-star estate, which has also been hailed as one of Africa’s most romantic hotels.
The recent upgrade of The Manor House’s classical dining restaurant, Henry White’s, was mindful of the building’s national monument status and would surely have gained Mr White’s approval. The award-winning restaurant has a fresh look that pays homage to the historical aspect of the building and yet reflects a global dining appeal.
Dedicated Henry White’s sous chef Ewald Schulenburg has designed a four-course menu that he describes as ‘classic with a modern touch’ which promises guests a ‘flavour journey’ – from local cheeses to seafood from the West Coast. The contemporary menu supports local suppliers and is committed to showcasing the freshest produce that the country has to offer to both local and foreign guests.
Even the décor has stuck to the building’s original heritage. Local Knysna designers have lightened the space using lots of refreshing green and white soft furnishings to keep the setting comfortable and unpretentious. The original 76-seater has been trimmed down to a 40-seater to make room for a second, private entrance to the restaurant as well as a welcoming lounge for guests to enjoy pre or post-prandial drinks.
The Manor House, originally named Blanco House by Henry White, is the epitome of impeccable service and style. Here guests can experience a warm welcome and unobtrusive service in an elegant setting. The boutique hotel is decorated with touches of glamour that pay tribute to the old-world charm of the original two-storey, 10-room Cotswold mansion. Art works honour Henry White, who was known for his artistic spirit and his own watercolour landscape paintings.
White was also known for his contribution to the betterment of the local George area, and his son Ernest Montagu White spared no expense when he upgraded and improved Blanco House 28 years later, after acquiring the estate on auction. He renamed the house ‘Fancourt’ in honour of his father, who had died a poor man after the economic depression of 1860. The house was auctioned after the death of Henry White’s wife, Sarah, in 1875.
Owning the house again was a dream comes true for Montagu White, who had grown up at Fancourt. Although he did not reside permanently at Fancourt, he enlisted only the best craftsman to tailor the manor house to suit his English country living ideals – with an emphasis on comfort rather than simply luxury living.
Montagu White, known as an animal lover and as a dapper man, also supported the local community, donating to churches in the area and contributing to the development of White Road, the old main road linking George to Wilderness. He also loved the arts and when he died, he bequeathed part of his estate to benefit art students and the National Art Gallery in Cape Town.
Although Montagu White died childless and Fancourt has had various owners over the years, the original manor house – restored to its former glory – today has 18 luxury suites and lives on to provide a memory that will last forever.