When taking groups to Pilgrim’s Rest, I have traditionally stayed at the evergreen Royal Hotel, as it is always simpler to have everyone together. On our recent jaunt to Pilgrim’s Rest, the Cross Country team decided to stay at “Mona Cottage”.
Located in Uptown Pilgrim’s Rest, it first appeared in images around 1907. V Gardner was the first lessee, then J du Pratt in 1912, until the building was finally leased to a Doctor Hutchinson in 1912. He used the building as consulting rooms until 1915.
Cut to 1978, when the owners of the Old Print House (Len and Cheryl Bert) acquired the rights to use the terraces of Mona Cottage as a tea garden. In 1998 the Goodwin Family purchased the Old Print House, and negotiated with the Department of Public Works, Mpumalanga to rebuild Mona Cottage.
“The Department of Culture Sports and Recreation Offices of Museum Services in Pilgrim’s Rest had already extensively researched the original buildings and even had copies of the original leases issued by the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates for the house. With their help and expertise, the original foundations of the house were excavated and permission granted to faithfully reconstruct Mona Cottage.”
In 2020, a total refurbishment of the guest house was undertaken. All the facilities and finishes were upgraded, resulting in a beautiful and comfortable cottage with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, fully equipped modernised kitchen and quality furnishings.”
The cottage is ideally situated, superbly fitted out (you even have coffee beans and a grinder supplied) and it’s within easy walking distance of all the attractions. It is the perfect self-catering option!! All details in the info block. We really enjoyed using the cottage as a base for our travels!
Directly across from Mona Cottage is the War Memorial, which was erected in commemoration of the men (from Pilgrim’s Rest and the surrounding areas) who had fought and died during the First and Second World Wars. Designed by Mr W Dyke Poynter, it was built by Mr. G. Beretta (a local building contractor) between September 1921 and May 1922.
For me, however, the large oak tree to the left of the memorial is even more intriguing. It was grown from an acorn from the Delville Wood battlefield, which was planted in 1965. Of the six acorns presented to the Lowveld Memorial Order of the Tin Hats (MOTHS), only two survived – one of which is this beautiful tree in Pilgrim’s Rest!
A feat of engineering at the time it was built, it was named after Mr. JS Joubert, who was the Mine Commissioner in the 1890s. Giovan Giletti was an engineer who immigrated from Italy to South Africa, and one of his lasting legacies is this bridge. Construction started in mid-1896, and it was officially opened in May 1897 (by the same JS Joubert after whom it is named).
The bridge was severely damaged by floods in 1909, but it was immediately rebuilt, and it has stood the test of time ever since.
LOUIS TRICHARDT WAGON TRAIL PLAQUE
Just before you reach the Joubert Bridge, approaching Pilgrim’s Rest from the “Downtown” side, you will see this structure under a tree on the left of the road. Louis Trichardt was one of the great Boer leaders that visited the Pilgrim’s Rest area in search for a route to the harbour in Lourenco Marques (now Maputo). In 1938, the centenary celebrations of the Groot Trek were celebrated with a symbolic ox-wagon journey from the Cape. During those celebrations, this monument was erected.