Coedmore Castle, known as Durban’s “castle lite,” is a stunning historic homestead constructed in 1875 and located directly in the heart of the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve. Within the 253-acre Yellowwood Park nature reserve, the medieval stone castle is situated amidst several enormous yellowwood trees.
The castle, despite being a residence, has its own tower and battlements and, due to its romance, frequently acts as the location for weddings. With much of the furniture, family pictures, and antique silverware still intact, the grounds and the interior are in immaculate condition.
The home was constructed by Kenneth Stainbank’s father using stones from the nearby Umhlauzana River with the assistance of a few Scottish stonemasons. Three years were needed to finish it. The grounds were intended to be turned into a miniature version of Europe, with antelope and monkeys roaming freely.
Dering Stainbank wed a Pietermaritzburg native who gave birth to seven children for him. Kenneth received the house from his two eldest sons, who were killed in the First World War. Today, his daughter and her family still reside on the estate.
The public is welcome to take tours of the house. Highlights include the stunning steel-pressed ceilings, hardwood panelling, and circular iron stairway to the tower. The sculptures in several of the rooms were created by Dering’s daughter Mary Stainbank, who worked primarily in a garden studio. She wasn’t given the credit for bringing the contemporary school of sculpture to South Africa until many years later.
Nearby to the location of her initial studio, her art is currently displayed in a gallery in the renovated cow shed. It is referred to as the Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery and it also holds exhibitions by other artists. The gallery now has the largest, most complete body of work by a single sculptor in the nation thanks to Mary’s creations.
For groups of ten or more, the castle can be visited or a tour that includes tea and scones in the formal dining room can be taken. But you’ll need to schedule a meeting. The natural reserve has a 10 km mountain bike path, 13 km of walking trails, and a picnic area. Near Christmas, keep an eye out for the yearly Carols at the Castle celebration.