The Friends of Smuts House (FoSH)

Friends of Smuts House, September 2021

Dear Friends,

Spring is definitely on the way; every day on my morning walk around our garden I see new flowers.

We held a very successful supper talk on 19 August when Graham Dominy talked about Smuts and 3 generations of the Schreiner family. We held the talk in the Moth hall which was delightful but cramped.

Thinus produced a tasty lasagne and the weather was fine but fresh! John Lambert very kindly prepared a synopsis of the talk which is attached.

The next talks will be on Saturday morning 11 September in commemoration of the death of Jan Smuts on 11 September 1950. The talks are about Smuts’ personality with a multi-faceted approach and the interior of the Big House as a reflection of the cultural lifestyle from 1909 -1950. Please book for this event with Sharon 012 670 9016 / 079 393 3282/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Free Big House tours are being arranged for the long weekend 24-26 September keep an eye on the website for details of when the tours will start and with whom to book.

On Sunday 26  there is to be a soil building workshop at the Tea Garden hosted by Margie Tours of the Permaculture Institute for Southern Africa, from 09h00 until 14h00, the cost will be R360 which includes refreshments and lunch. Booking essential and for more information contact 084 422 1272.

There has been some bulldozer activity on the southern side of the koppie fortunately not on Smuts property but please be aware of it.

Friends of Smuts House are planning to resume the popular bird walks, subject to confirmation the first will be early Saturday morning 30 October.

My husband Ron has just come in after another morning of back breaking work on clearing the fire breaks around the property, this is hard work and the Friends pay for a labourer to work with him, well done Ron!

The Friends have financed the enclosing of the garage housing the Cadillac and the herbarium; Tukkies students did the work as part of the practical’s for their course.

On Thursday 21st October Friends of Smuts House will be hosting Theo Ligthelm who will talk about how Smuts coped with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

A magnificent Jungle Gym has been installed near the tea garden encouraging parents with young children to visit and enjoy the tranquillity of the garden. We can recommend the Ouma’s Isie’s Tea Garden as a delightful venue for a meal or a small party. For more information or a quote please call Thinus on: 076 716 6845.

We are sad to report the death of committee member Theo Neu and wish his family well as they adjust to life without him. Thus we have a vacancy for a new committee member?

Cheers for now and keep well.

Marion and committee

Yours in conservation

Marion Mengell

Tel: 012 667 2183           Cell: 083 455 1736

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.       This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.      PO Box 581 Irene 0062


To:  Members of the Friends of Smuts House - and to all on our database of interested parties!

Firstly, our sincere thanks to all those kind, concerned people (members and non-members) who have already donated funds towards the running of Smuts House Museum during this lockdown period. You cannot imagine how much your donations and membership fees are appreciated!

The Covid-19 lockdown has not been all bad although the Museum has suffered greatly from a lack of income during the lockdown period, our Curator has taken advantage of the quiet time to do some longstanding work at the Museum, and has been hard at work re-arranging and re-assigning exhibits.

The House now boasts new general themes as follows:
  1. The “Isie” corridor - will now reflect a more comprehensive overview of the wife of Jan Christiaan Smuts showing her life during different stages as well as her charity work.
  2. The “Smuts” corridor - in front of the three exhibition rooms will now focus on:

-     Smuts early upbringing;

-     his academic achievements;

-     his later life;

-     his death.

  1. Room 1 - contains a timeline of:
  2. -     Smuts as ZAR attorney general before 1899;

    -     his contribution to the Anglo-Boer War;

    -     his political career from 1907-1949

    1. Room 2 - focuses on:

    -     The role of Smuts in WW1 and the Commonwealth;

    -     WW2 and Smuts’ role regarding the United Nations.

    1. Room 3 – focuses on the Smuts legacy:

    -    Establishing the SA army, maritime force and air force;

    -    United Party memorabilia;

    -    Smuts’ link with the Windsor family;

    -   Smuts' memorabilia

    1. The foyer to the boardroom — contains photographs of previous board members.
    2. The board room — now contains mainly two-dimensional artworks of Smuts, selected on artistic considerations.

    Further funding and assistance is needed to meet the following requirements:

    1. Four glass levels (shelves) needed for a more professional display in "Isie's corridor" and for WW II. (Most important)
    2. Purchase of suitably 'period' material for curtains — and a volunteer to make the curtains.
    3. Funds for the printing, framing and glass needed for the 30 newly framed photographs.
    4. Captions — paper, printing and laminating.
    5. Help with proof reading.
    6. Provision of curtain rails, knobs and rings, as well as support for the three exhibition rooms.
    7. LED light strips in display cases and electric wire extensions.
    8. LED lights (globes) for general lighting in rooms.
    9. Lights for the pantry. Period-correct lampshades.
    10. Display cases need to be adjusted for Room 2
    11. A stand for Isie's bronze in her passage.
    12. Revising display case locks and keys.
    13. Repainting of the three exhibition rooms and corridor (the walls are extremely dirty)

    Future projects — still to come....

    • Organization of photos of the Friends (FoSH) and the General Smuts Foundation (GSF).
    • A brief histories of the FoSH and the GSF.
    • General history and background of the House.
    • Oral historical documentation by Philip Weyers (Smuts' great grandson) on the Museum and the Smuts family.
    • Possible oral historical documentation by other people on the Museum and family.
    • Document on the environment and ecology surrounding Smuts house on Doornkloof.


    When the House re-opens to the public, we hope you will  visit and enjoy the new-look exhibition.
    In the meantime, THANK YOU for your continued interest.


    June 2019

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the brave new world as we endeavour to gradually move towards a new normal.

    For the history lovers please find below a charming article about Church Square in Pretoria and for the outdoor types we are thrilled to announce that the Smuts property is open for walkers from 09h00 until 15h00 every day of the week except Monday. No charge but donations will be appreciated. The restaurant is serving take-way lunches from 12h00 on Wednesday and Friday but it is essential to order the day before : Jan 072 728 8982. We are hopeful that the restaurant will be allowed to fully open on 1 July.

    After about 17 years my husband Ron has finally stopped working on a Tuesday at Smuts House as a volunteer gardener. His special project was the Arboretum which is now well developed but could use some fresh tree labels would anyone would like to take over the project? We shall resume our evening super talks as soon as 1) the weather gets warmer, and 2) we are allowed to have group meetings.

    We thank all the members who recently paid their annual membership subscriptions and the  donators who helped Friends of Smuts House to raise R50 000.00+ towards the upkeep of the property during this time of lockdown. If you would like to make a regular donation it will be most welcome please contact us about the arrangements.

    Keep well and warm!
    Marion Megell

    Dear friends,

    Please be reminded of our next Supper Talk on  Thursday 17 October featuring Dung beetles and their role in keeping the earth and us alive.


    Professor Marcus Byrne won the 2013 Ig Nobel Prizefor Biology/Astronomy along with: Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Clarke Scholtz, and Eric Warrant, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way. This research has practical applications, for example helping how to develop complex visual systems.

    COST:  Members:  R120   Visitors:  R150

    Time:  18h00 for 18h30

    Venue :  This talk will possibly be at GEM Village due to the potential for  rain or thunder storms, venue will be confirmed nearer the time.  

    BOOKING ESSENTIAL:  Valerie 0833251039       This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
                                            or Sue :  082 959 6316   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Please note that bookings close on the Tuesday (15th October) before the event and  all  payments need to be made by EFT please.    If you are unable to do EFT please advise so we can make suitable arrangements.

    Banking details for Friends of Smuts House:

    Bank:                       Nedbank, Centurion
    Account Name:         Friends of Smuts House
    Branch Code:           162145
    Account No:             1621173909
    Ref:                        YOUR SURNAME Event Date
    NB: Please forward proof of payment for our records to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or  SMS to 0833251039

    Kind regards

    Valerie Webley

    Friends of the General Smuts Foundation
    e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Cell: 083 325 1039

    - - - - - - - - - - - -


    21 September 2019

    Dear friends,

    We had a very successful supper talk in the Tea Garden at Smuts House Museum yesterday evening presented by Albert Jansen on Smuts’ and how he thought through Holism and how it affected his thinking in the military environment. Thanks to Jan du Toit for catering, Theo for helping Anton and all the friends and members who attended.

    Please scroll down to see an invitation to a series of lectures and the opening of a statue to Koos de la Rey at Kedar Heritage Lodge (near Rustenburg) on Saturday 19 October.

    I would like to organise an ‘expedition’ to this event, if are you interested in attending please let me know and it would be good to share transport?

    The next Friends event will be on Thursday 17 October featuring Dung beetles and their role in keeping the earth and us alive, possibly at GEM Village due to the potential for  rain or thunder storms, venue will be confirmed nearer the time.  

    After many years in the role Cheryl is not exactly retiring but not having quite so much responsibility and we have a new friend helping with bookings: Valerie Webley 082 325 1039, the email stays the same.

    Antike Fabrick has opened on Smuts property in the area that was formerly the staff village. The owner is Leon Moolman Tel: 072 1430 853. Pics on the Smuts House website.



    25 July 2019


    The next FoSH event will be a supper talk on Thursday 22 August when we will be hosting author and journalist Richard Steyn presenting on his book about Louis Botha titled: A Man Apart.

    ‘Richard Steyn brings to life a South African icon. Louis Botha was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, a union he did much to create in the decade after the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War’.

    For more information please look at:  A Man Apart

    FoSH Members R120, visitors R150, please book before midday Tuesday 20 August with:

    Cheryl: 083 376 1734 or Sue: 082 959 6316 or Catherine: 083 442 8498     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Please pay by EFT: Nedbank Centurion, Account: 1621173903 in the name of:  Friends of General Smuts Foundation.

    Use your surname and 22 August as reference.

    While we are talking about money we are so grateful to all the kind friends that donated towards the vital electrical repair work, sorry it has taken so long to get the ‘after ‘pics the electrician is busy with another unsafe establishment. We have since discovered that the circuits are now so sensitive that a kettle and a projector cannot be used at the same time and the vacuum cleaner keeps on tripping out. The quote to sort that out is about R 6000.00. The next essential preservation work is to repair the sandstone plinth upon which the Big House rests and install a 700mm wide apron all the way round the exterior to conserve the  foundation from further deterioration. (R40 000.00)

    We thank John Sparrow for leading a fascinating Geology walk on the koppie on Saturday 20 July. About 40 people braved the very cold morning and enjoyed a meal at the Tea Garden afterwards. The presentation is available on the website:

    The annual memorial service , as always, was a meaningful event we thank the Welsh male voice choir for their contribution. On a sad note 90 ? year old   Lt General Denis Earp died very suddenly early the next morning. I consoled myself with the thought that probably  the last singing he heard was the choir singing the national anthem with great reverence and gusto.  

    News from the Big House is that for the time being the Saturday Craft Markets shave been suspended, The good news is that  it will give the grass a chance to recover after years of trampling. They are also looking for a paper shredder and A3 photocopier

    Upcoming Friends of Smuts House events:

    Thursday 22 August supper talk on Louis Botha aby Richard Steyn

    Thursday 19 September, supper talk, The invasion of Pretoria by Albert Jansen

    Thursday 17 October, supper talk: The Dance of the dung beetles by Marcus Bryne

    Friday 8 November, Ghost Tour of Pretoria, starting and ending at Smuts House


    01 November 2018

     Dear Friends,

    The next Friends of Smuts House  Event will be on Thursday 15 November when the well-known scorpion specialist Jonathan Leeming will do a presentation, not only on scorpions but how they and humans fit together into ‘One World’. The new caterer Jan du Toit will provide the meal (R120 for Friends members) and if the weather is suitable we shall be staying in the lapa for the talk. Please bring a plate of mince pies or something sweet to share for the ‘pudding’.

    Please book with Cheryl:  083 376 1734   or Sue: 082 959 6316 and pay EFT to the Friends of Smuts House account with your name and supper 15 Nov in the beneficiary space. We will only accept bookings until 12h00 on Tuesday 13 November.

    Would you believe this co-incidence: On Tuesday 30 October we went into the dining room at Smuts House Museum to look for a suitable place for a signing ceremony? And there visiting the Big House was a grand-daughter, great granddaughter and great great grandchildren of Jan and Isie Smuts. Sibella Pedder was, I think, the granddaughter of Smuts second surviving child, her daughter Cato is part of the Clark family; they were here from the UK doing research into the Clark family that was so intimately involved with the Smuts family. If we find more information we will let you have it.

    With grateful thanks to the General Smuts Foundation a historic MoU signing ceremony was held between the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and the City Council of Tshwane  Environment Management Services (EMS) on 30 October 2018 at Smuts House Museum. This was the culmination of years of co-operation between the various WESSA Friends Groups in Tshwane and EMS. As time goes by less and less money is formally budgeted for ‘Caring the Earth’ thus volunteers under the auspices of the WESSA Friends Groups fill the gap. The MoU formalised the relationship between WESSA and The City of Tshwane. We were honored to have Thommie Burger the CEO of WESSA, Ernst Wohlitz head of EMS and Rantbeng Tseke representing the MMC’s office. Our thanks go to Jan du Toit who provided Ouma’s scones for us in the  renovated lapa, which looks great with the new farm theme.

    Classical music will feature at Ouma’s Tea Garden Restaurant on Sunday 4 November….enjoy.



    Dear Friends,


    The Friends of Smuts House have hosted 4 very successful supper talks this year: in January: Sinkholes, presented by local geologist Neil Anderson. In February we had Michael Charton doing his famous presentation named ‘My Father’s Coat” the story of five great men: Mzilikazi, Kruger, Rhodes, Smuts and Mandela and how they have influenced the South Africa we live in today.

    In March we hosted Richard Steyn presenting on his book about the Friendship of Smuts and Churchill and in April Philip Mirkin did a wonderful presentation on Holism which included a poem on the elements in the periodic table! Our grateful thanks to the speakers and the meal providers.

    Our long time treasurer Roy Field has retired and we welcome Nigel Coni in his place. Roy was also the assistant barmen offers of help will be so appreciated…PS Ron is looking for lady helper??

    All these events have contributed to the funds which enabled Ron Mengell and John Mashiela to restore the Place of Quiet, it now looks so beautiful. The only job outstanding is one pane of glass which the Friends will organise and get replaced soon. Alpheus, Matthew and Ron have worked extra hard to clear the debris (17 bakkie loads) dumped when the decking in front of the Big House was installed.

    The Friends have donated a brand new vacuum cleaner to the Museum and funds to help sort out electricity…the Big House was not earthed!!!!!

    We thank the Friends that have recently sent in their membership renewals and welcome several new Friends families. Should you wish to join the Friends and help us support the management of Smuts House Museum, grounds and koppie please find an application for membership form HERE. On the Friends of Smuts house tab. Perhaps you would also like to consider a bequest to the General Smuts Foundation that owns and runs the property

    Next Friends event: Supper talk Thursday 17 May, following a quickie AGM, Philip Weyers will do a presentation on:  Jan Smuts and the Balfour declaration. It discusses the role the Oubaas played both overtly and otherwise in the events which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel.

    An interesting article that was published in the Pretoria News on 19 April as part of the newspaper’s 120 year celebration can be read HERE.

    Kind regards

    Marion Mengell


    Dear Marion

    I am green with envy and honestly wish that I could attend these talks that you good folk organize.

    I am more or less finished writing about the 2 Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance that started in Cape Town on 14 May 1918.  General Smuts was well aware of the tradition and re-introduced the tradition during WW2.  I am now wondering if you have any information about his observing a silence e.g. did the country observe a 1 or a 2 minute silence at his funeral? Strangely it is one of my oldest memories.  The funeral of General Jan Smuts.  We as children had to sit in our Sunday Best throughout the ceremony and my mother often shed a tear which upset us very much indeed. Will a silence be observed during the Memorial Service?  I have a huge favour to ask.  Could you possibly organize that someone takes a photograph during the Memorial Service so that I can have it placed together with the information in the manuscript “The Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance.”  I think I may have flown up to Irene for the service but I am on my way to Cape Town where the centenary commemoration of the Two Minute Silence will take place at the actual Noonday Gun on Signal Hill.  It is all very exciting.  They are even going to erect a monument that will be unveiled.  I need those photographs for the manuscript as well.  By the way one of my treasures is a Christmas Card that General Smuts sent to every gunner in 1917.  He was the honorary Commanding Officer of the gunners of WW! and his statue now ‘resides’ directly opposite the Gunners Memorial in the Company Gardens in Cape Town.  Sir Percy FitzPatrick who was involved in getting the 2 Minute Silent Pause observed internationally can be seen on one of the walls of General Smut’s office although I do not think that the General was over fond of Sir Percy.  Oh dear, I am going on about it all.

    Enjoy your function and thank you for forwarding all the information.

    Keep up the good work.


    Joan Abrahams.


    Pics of Neil Anderson making and replacing  spokes on the Armstrong Cannon which is on show at the Smuts House Museum. Thanks Neil for this amazing volunteer help.

    For more information or to donate towards the rehabilitation of the Cadillac and its shelter and the funeral gun please contact: Theo Ligthelm: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 082 824 1119

    Chairlady Event Bookings Membership
    Cell: 083 455 1736 Cell: 083 325 1039 Tel.:012 667 4924