Glenshiel

The offices of the Order of St John are at 'Glenshiel' in Westcliff, Johannesburg.

'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 garden.

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 patients.

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 Sign Post.

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