Heatherton Towers

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names


This page is a stub.  You can help improve it.

The landscape had once been abundant of wildlife and home to large numbers of elephant and black rhino, leopard, cheetah and lion.  This fact was well documented in local San rock art as well as in the diaries of elephant hunters and in detailed accounts of Frontier explorers such as Barrow, Paterson and Baines who traversed the landscape documenting the terrain, its wildlife and people.

However the arrival of the Dutch and English settlers to the area in the 1800’s saw wildlife both hunted and driven off these lands in favour of goat and ostrich farming which became widely practiced. Heatherton Towers was one of the first Ostrich farms in South Africa. Built in 1836 it hosted distinguished guests such as Lord Milner and Cecil Rhodes and today is Kwandwe’s reception house. 

The Hon Arthur Douglass was one of the first commercial Ostrich farmers.  He was born at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Jan 1843, the 5th son of James Ley Hegar Douglass, Solicitor, Market Harborough.

He was was educated at Leicester Collegiate School and served as midshipman in the Royal Navy. He went to the Cape as a land surveyor in 1864 and started farming and the domestication of ostriches. He was one of the first commercial Ostrich farmers at Heatherton Towers, near Grahamstown. He served in the armed forces during the Frontier Wars and became a politician. During Sir Gordon Sprigg's absence in England, in the summer of 1902, he acted as Premier of the Colony. The family (he had eight children) moved in 1875 to "Heatherton Towers" on great Fish River.

Languishing under the strain of small stock farming and cultivation during the 100 years that followed, the landscape became neglected and impoverished.

It took the shared vision, resources and relentless energy of four dynamic individuals to create Kwandwe Private Game Reserve – former owners American Entrepreneur Carl DeSantis and Erika Stewart along with South African naturalist-guide Angus Sholto-Douglas and his wife Tracy.  Conceived in 2001 their collective dream was to return a piece of this land in South Africa’s almost forgotten Eastern Cape to its former glory and rehabilitate it with wildlife.

•  The Heatherton estate in Somerset, England was formed by Sir Thomas Gunston in 1765. In due course, it passed to Col. Alexander William Adair (1829-89) who leased Heatherton Park c.1880-85 to General Sir Percy Douglas (d. 1891). In 1890 it was sold to T. Starkey.

See also:
•  The Sholto-Douglas family in South Africa



Sources for this article include:
  • Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

    I am keen to develop this article with details of the Douglas families who lived and worked here. Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


    Back to top


    The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

    The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

    As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

    Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

    Contact Us

    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024