Pagel House, Aberdeen, Karoo Heartland

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Pagel House – Aberdeen at its most Victorian. Photo: Chris Marais

By Heather Dugmore

Should you find yourself in the Graaff-Reinet area while traveling to- or from Cape Town or the Garden Route, make a point of staying over at Pagel House.

A beautifully restored Victorian guesthouse in the Karoo hamlet of Aberdeen (some 50 kilometres from Graaff-Reinet on the national highway between Graaff-Reinet and Beaufort West); here you will find a welcoming stopover with a fascinating history and charm.

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Plush interiors of Pagel House take you back a century or so. Photo: Chris Marais

Built in 1897 during the ostrich and wool boom, Pagel House reflects the era when Aberdeen boomed as a thriving farming town.

Pagel House today is owned and managed by Lynette Dugmore who moved all the way from Zurich when she purchased Pagel House. South African-born, she had been working as a nursing sister in Switzerland for 25 years before responding to an inner call to “come home”.

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Weddings with lions – here in Aberdeen. (Photo supplied).

Lynette has gathered fascinating information on Aberdeen – including an old newspaper photograph of what must surely be the only marriage in the world where the bride had seven lionesses as bridesmaids.

“Well over fifty years ago a fellow called Frank Wilke – who owned Pagel House at the time – established the largest private zoo in South Africa on the outskirts of town,” she explains. “As a world first, he allowed a local couple to exchange vows inside the lionesses’ cage.”

Nothing is left of the zoo anymore but Pagel House remains, brimming with treasures, Victoriana and personal touches that give guests a special sense of the 117-year-old house’s history.

It begins in the lounge with its rich cream and maroon decor, its Victorian fireplace, burr walnut piano and original pink chandelier. Then there are the pressed steel ceilings, delicately painted in the Victorian style. They are in pristine, original condition and many guests have commented they have never seen anything like them.

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Escape into the past in Pagel House… Photo: Heather Dugmore

From the lounge, you wander onto the wrap-around verandah with its original stained glass resting nook. Lynette has a charming sepia photograph of two Victorian women relaxing here. Their names are Frances and Jubilee.

Both ladies would have been delighted with the Victorian-style bathroom Lynette offers en suite to one of the bedrooms.

Down the passage is the kitchen where a Karoo lamb roast sizzles in the old Aga oven. Lynette, an excellent cook, is preparing lunch.

Then there’s the dining room, glowing with polished yellowwood floors and “British transfer” blue and white china. On a stand in one corner is a Limoge-style oil lamp.

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Aberdeen, deep in the Karoo Heartland. Photo: Chris Marais

“I love beautiful old things and I am fortunate to have a good eye for spotting them,” continues Lynette who found many precious pieces in second-hand shops in Europe.

Which is why she when she returned to South Africa, she came with 240 boxes.

“I always knew I would one day find the right home for all my treasures,” she smiles, strolling through her oasis of a garden at the back of the house. “The whole Pagel House experience has been a voyage of discovery back to my country and back to myself. It’s is the best decision I’ve ever made. I love the house, the space and the freedom. And I would love you to visit.”

Pagel House:

Phone Lynette on:

049 846 0611 or 0721703914

Pagel House features in Karoo Keepsakes II – The Journeys Continue, available here in e-Book and print format.

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7 Responses to Pagel House, Aberdeen, Karoo Heartland

  1. Wynand and Jennifer Krynauw January 10, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    As a child, I came to Aberdeen many times, but in one visit to Pagel House, my perception of this lovely Karoo town was totally changed. This is a truly magnificent Victorian style house decorated amazingly. Lynette and her staff are warm hearted and excellent in what they do in such a way that you cannot help to feel peace coming over you. I could never thought that such beauty exist in this town. I am lost for words. What a memorable experience. I can recommend Pagel House even for newly weds like us. The luxury room will make the perfect honeymoon suite. The garden has many beautiful spots to excite photographers.

  2. Wynand and Jennifer Krynauw January 10, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Dit was ‘n ongelooflike ervaring in die klein karoo dorpie. Dis soos ‘n oasis in die karoo . ‘n Heerlike ontvlugting vir die stadsjapie en plattelander. Die Victoriaanse ontwerp roep vele herinneringe en oue lange stories wat deel uit maak van ons land se geskiedenis. Die kamers met hul individuele dekor skep ‘n goeie indruk van die tipe eienaar en mens waarmee jy te doen het. Lynn(Lynette) soos sy haar bekend stel en haar personeel laat jou tuis voel soos in jou ma/ouma se kombuis. Die heerlike tuisgemaakte konfyt uit haar pragtige tuin laat die smaakkliere gil van lekker kry. Dit is ‘n onbeskryflike tog bekende gevoel wat by jou bly soos jy ‘n deur die tuin stap en bekende geluide hoor wat die bedrywighede van die lewe uitdoof. Kom vind die dierbare mens wat binne jou skuil.

  3. Lyn Dugmore January 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for your lovely feedback. What a wonderful motivation to keep doing what we are doing.
    Thank you both so much.
    Look foward to seeing you both again in the future.
    Lyn and team at Pagel House B&B Aberdeen

  4. Margaret Ferreira March 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    What a wonderful overnight stay we had at Pagel House last week. We were on our way to the Wilderness and decided to stay over in Aberdeen. I wish I could have spent my whole holiday at Pagel House. It is so relaxing, interesting, fascinating – my husband and I were lucky to have the ‘Blue Room’ – took so many photos of the room! I thought I was a collector, but was completely amazed at the fantastic collection Lyn has amassed. The garden is so peaceful – I could honestly spend a whole week there and just read and relax and explore Aberdeen.
    The breakfast was delicious – with homegrown fruit and homemade jams. My husband and I are planning to go back in the next few months to spend a bit more time there. It is a wonderful place to unwind and Lyn is a great hostess! What a magnificent job she has done with the house – full of treasures and mystery!

    Thanks a lot Lyn – see you soon.

    Margaret and Dries Ferreira

    • Lyn Dugmore July 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

      Thanks so much Margret. Look forward to welcoming you both here again.
      Lyn and staff.

  5. Cher & Herholdt Gauche December 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    We stayed at Pagel Guest House last night on route from Pretoria to Plettenburg Bay. Our first encounter with Lynn Dugmore was her running around her garden trying to catch a chicken which escaped from the coupe. Lynn is in touch with every animal and bird which has sought refuge in the beautiful oasis garden which she has created in the heart of the arid karoo. Dinner was scrumptious and another fond Karoo experience of lamb and veggies. YUM! The rooms were very comfy, clean and brightly decorated in their colour themed walls. After a good rest we were presented with a hearty breakfast which had us set for the rest of our journey. I highly recommend Pagel Guest House for any traveller who needs an escape and home away from home.

  6. Ryk Pepler August 7, 2017 at 5:12 am #

    Gmore, Ek is bly ek het Frank Wilke se huis opgespoor. Besig met familie-boom. Is daar iemand met wie ek in kontak kan kom asb? Baie dankie. Groete Ryk Pepler 0837778258

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