offices of the Order of St John are at 'Glenshiel' in Westcliff,
'Glenshiel', one of Johannesburg's famous historic homes, was built for
Sir William and Lady Dalrymple in 1908. The house and stables were
designed by renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker.
Sir William, a mining magnate and his actress wife, Isobel were well
known for their entertaining, music and tennis parties. Many a well
known personality, including Princess Alice of Athlone, stayed at 'Glenshiel'.
The grounds of 'Glenshiel' boasted one of the first swimming pools and
tennis courts ever to be built in the city. Whilst the swimming pool
still remains, the tennis court has since made way for a beautiful rose
When Sir William passed away in 1941, the estate, which originally
comprised 27 acres, was divided into two portions. The late Major Gordon
Haggie purchased the seven acre portion on which 'Glenshiel' and the
adjoining stables were situated. He immediately loaned 'Glenshiel' to
the Order of St John so that it could be used as an auxiliary military
hospital. (The Order of St John operated eleven such hospitals during
the Second World War). The hospital at 'Glenshiel' was run under the
supervision of Muriel Walton, a great friend of the Haggie Family, who
was also the Superintendent-in-Chief Nursing for the Order of St John.
During it's three years of operation, 'Glenshiel' provided a restful and
tranquil home to almost 2 500 soldiers who were recovering from
amputations as a result of injuries sustained during the war. Numerous
ramps were built and iron bars were built to protect the teak paneling
from damage. The drawing room formed the main ward and during the warm
summer months, beds were placed on the verandah to accommodate more
During their stay, soldiers were encouraged to participate in
occupational therapy making such items as leather writing cases and
sheepskin slippers. Carpentry played an important role and was excellent
exercise for those patients with injured hands and arms. Many of the
patients went on to become expert carpenters who walked off with
numerous prizes for works exhibited at the 1945 National Eisteddfod.
'Polly Ann', a Tudor Style cottage, now situated in the grounds of 'Glenshiel',
was just one of many similar cottages which were erected to form 'Olde
England', a fundraising initiative during the World War Two. At the end
of the fundraising event, Major Haggie, with the assistance of the
patients, re-erected 'Polly Ann' along with the Wishing Well and Town
The St John flag was ceremoniously lowered at 'Glenshiel' on March 26,
1946 and 'Glenshiel' once again became a stately home. In 1950, on
behalf of the Haggie Trust, Major Gordon Haggie, lent 'Glenshiel' to the
Order of St John in perpetuity.
'The Stables', which originally housed the coach house, stables and
garage, was converted, with the minimum amount of alteration into a
residence and became the official home of the Haggie Family, who still
reside there to this day.
'Glenshiel' was declared a national monument in 1979.
The Parktown & Westcliff Heritage Trust arrange regular tours to local
historic homes, of which 'Glenshiel' is one. If you would like further
information regarding these tours, you can contact the Parktown &
Westcliff Heritage Trust at (011) 482-3349 during office hours