I have been to Simon’s Town many times in my life and my childhood association with the Royal Navy has been vividly recalled when I was recently introduced to the book by Boet Dommisse’s of Admiralty House Simon’s Town. In the 1960’s I lived next door to a house owned by the Royal Navy in Plumstead that was occupied by my godmother and godfather, who was the Admiral’s chauffeur.
Boet Dommisse has truly brought to life this wonderful, nostalgic period, not only in my own life, but also for those who spent many years – specially during war times – working and living in close proximity with and in the home of the Admiral. The author, the retired Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Cape Town, co-authored Simon’s Town – An Illustrated Historical Perspective after relocating to the area in 1996 and was subsequently approached by the SA Navy to undertake the Admiralty House project.
This richly illustrated book maps the life of a home and property originally built by Dutch soldier Antoni Visser, each chapter magnifying the history of the place and the people who have lived there. As the Introductory Overview aptly states, Admiralty House Simon’s Town “provide(s) us with a fascinating chronology of events in the development of South Africa from a simple victualling station to a vibrant democratic nation”.
The occupants of the home have been well documented and add a new dimension of naval history to South Africa’s proud heritage. The fine collection of furniture, objects d’art and paintings and the splendour of the gardens are represented through a magnificent collection of photographs complemented by rich, detailed descriptions.
Admiralty House Simon’s Town is a publication that no library, school or naval historian should be without.
Book available from the Simon’s Town Museum
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