The Roundhouse

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The Roundhouse is the popular name given to an occasional venue for fêtes and theatrical and musical presentations on the slopes above Camps Bay, Cape Town.

The building

Built against the slopes of Table Mountain in 1786, it was originally intended as a guardhouse for the Dutch East India Company, to keep watch of enemy ships entering Table Bay. From 1814 to 1827 it was occupied by the governer Lord Charles Somerset, who refurbished the building to be used as a hunting lodge. One of the more famous guests there was Somerset's close friend, the renowned surgeon Dr James Barry[1], who is said to haunt the place to this day.

The building, situated in what is today the Glen Kloof Road in Camps Bay, went on to serve as a variety of purposes a popular tea room, dancehall, theatre venue, restaurant, boutique hotel, wedding venue, etc. at various times. It opened in its latest incarnation, as a fine dining establishment, in 2008.

The terraces at The Roundhouse, usually referred to as "The Rumbullion", have over the centuries also been used for various festive fêtes and events. (The name derives from the archaic English term "rumbullion" which means both a "brew of strong drink" - from "rum" - and consequently used figuratively to refer to "a riotous good time".)

Its use as a theatre and events venue

In 1862, Thomas Brazier became the lessee of what was then known as The Round House in Camps Bay, running the property as a restaurant and entertainment venue. By the start of 1864 he was advertising it as The Round House Hotel, but on 12 December of that year he left the Cape for Port Elizabeth.

Following Brazier, it seems the hotel was taken over by (or at least managed by) a Mr Tilley, who organized an annual "Fancy Fair and Fête" there on New Year's day - most probably on The Rumbullion. (F.C.L. Bosman, 1980: p.274, records at least one of these events in 1868, when an unnamed company of Amateur Christy's troupe and similarly unnamed "Dutch Theatrical Company" performed there.)

Sources

"The Roundhouse" on the Food24.com website[2]

"The Roundhouse" on the Cape Town Paranormal Investigations website[3]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 188-190, 274

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