MACRORIE HOUSE MUSEUM
Pietermaritzburg is filled with beautiful, old houses but Macrorie House is the only early to mid-Victorian double-storey house open to the public. It is both a national monument and a heritage site.
Its also reputed to be the most haunted house in KZN.
Built around 1860 the house was rented, in 1870, by the Bishop of Maritzburg, William Kenneth Macrorie. The Bishop went on to buy the house and call it South Hill.
Today it is filled with authentic Victorian furniture, and a visit through the museum will not only give you incredible insight into the days of yore, but will also introduce you to the stories and romance of the late 1880s and 1890s, including at least one ghost story (the ghost of the local jailer’s wife is said to roam the corridors).
Macrorie House includes the personal belongings and memorabilia of the bishop and presents perfectly the lifestyle of the early British settler in this part of the world, and particularly the life of a man of the church – the house includes a private chapel with an altarpiece from England.
The museum also has a wonderfully intact collection of dolls and a doll’s house.
Roxanne Thomas, the museum’s curator, makes history come alive as she dedicatedly represents this period to people who visit the museum. She is not only knowledgeable, but interesting to listen to. The museum is a living example of how much Pietermaritzburg has changed in the last 100 years.
In late 2015 over a metre of the beautiful cast iron fence that surrounds the front of the museum was stolen. The priceless 150-year old fences disappeared one evening, and although some of it was recovered at a local scrapyard, it looked as though the perpetrators had cut the fence into pieces.
A week later, despite the offer of an award in the local newspaper, more of the fence was removed, forcing Macrorie House to take down the little that remained to protect it.
The museum suggested that they might replace the cast iron with a wooden fence, as it would have been when the house was first built.
The museum holds an annual Victorian Fair and is also open for tea in the garden.