The Nesbitt Castle
The Nesbitt Castle
6 Percy Avenue, Hillside
tel:- + 263 9 282735 / 6
web address:- www.nesbittcastle.co.zw/
The Nesbitt Castle :-
Venue type - Hotel
Venue type Restaurant
Venue type Historic Building
Number of function rooms available for weddings: Three
Function room names and capacities: Function Centre
There is no more fitting a place for a wedding feast than in our enchanting Grand Tented Pavilion, the last word in gracious dining. Up to 300 guests can be seated and treated to a delectable buffet, all served by our highly trained, discreet staff.
Lined in filmy white drapery our Function Centre is a blank canvas awaiting a bride's own personal theme and colour accents.
The Conference Centre
For the more intimate wedding party we have The Conference Centre
Our Conference Centre can easily be transformed into just the right setting for smaller weddings. Seating 50 people for a dinner party and up to 80 for a cocktail style bash, it is the perfect intimate venue to impress family and friends.
The Coach House Restaurant
This award winning restaurant seats up to 30 people for smaller more personal wedding receptions. Set upstairs from our cosy, Irish-style pub, the Coach House Restaurant, offers fine dining to your chosen guests in a more intimate setting.
Guests rooms available: 9 Suites
Honeymoon suite available: Yes
Garden suitable for marquees: Yes
Alcohol License Yes
Dance Floor Yes
Evening Reception Facilities Yes
Car Parking Facilities Yes
Ideal Honeymoon Venue
Tables chairs linens and tableware included
Wedding services provided: Venue and Catering only
Gardens or outside locations suitable for wedding photography: Yes - our venue is one of the most sought after venues for wedding photography.
Suitable locations inside the venue for wedding photograph: Yes
Local picturesque areas suitable for wedding photography: Yes
Venue special features: Our venue provides an all in one package for Brides, from the ceremony in our Chapel to the photos, reception and Honeymoon Suite
Venue History: The history of Nesbitt Castle is the history of two unusual men with extraordinary vision; born in different centuries these men both fell in love with the idea of a gothic folly in the heart of Matabeleland. And what could be more incongruous than an English fortified castle in Africa? It was the shared spirit of eccentricity and obduracy that spurred these men on to face the challenges that the original construction and subsequent renovation demanded.
The first of these men, Theodore Albert Edward Garde, was born in 1877 in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and as a young man, served in the Boer War. The son of a teacher and early missionary he was himself destined for the cloth and in 1901 set sail for Durham University in UK to study theology, however, the dog collar chaffed and in 1907 he returned to South Africa with a different career path in mind. His stay in the UK and particularly in Durham with its Castle and links to medieval history, sparked a lifelong interest in all things ancient and archaeological and laid the foundations for his future home
Theodore Garde's mother had been previously married to a Mr Holden and at some stage this unusual young man decided to adopt that name and to stick it onto the front of the one he was born with, eschewing any idea of an upper class hyphen. Theodore Holdengarde and his name were soon to become household currency in the pioneer capital of Matabeleland - Bulawayo
No one is exactly sure of the date of his travel to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) - somewhere between 1908 and 1910 it is thought, but shortly thereafter he formed Hogarths Metal Works involved in construction engineering and hardware. He was a successful & resourceful businessman and before long his empire had expanded to new works in Pinetown, Natal.
Not happy with his original humble abode consisting of two brick and thatch rondavels at Bushman's Haunts overlooking what is now the Hillside dams, Holdengarde purchased 100 acres of land from the Village Management Board of Bulawayo and began construction of his Gothic fortification that came to be known over the years as Holdengarde Castle.
There were no plans for the building, no architectural drawings; nothing submitted to the council for approval, just a collection of distant memories, a practical disposition and a romantic dream. Over the next 30 years Theodore (who by now had acquired a wife) toiled away on the site with a small band of dedicated workers building turrets and towers, twisting passageways and crenellations. Sometimes he demolished his work and rebuilt, sometimes the vagaries of the African rains washed away his progress, sometimes he undertook major earthmoving & terracing armed with only a few wheelbarrows and his trusty staff, but slowly this extraordinary Victorian folly took shape.
Making this achievement even more noteworthy was the fact that Holdengarde was only a weekend builder; his businesses, service to the community (he was awarded an OBE) and Mayoral office took up his working week!
As a true eccentric and in keeping with his medieval concept, he refused to have electricity, piped water or a telephone in the Castle much to the chagrin of his wife and growing modern family. Maude Holdengarde his gracious and loyal spouse eventually had electricity installed by squirreling away her housekeeping money and waiting until Theodore was away in South Africa at a conference! Running water, flush toilets and a telephone were only installed after Theodore' death in 1948.
The Castle then limped along with Maude and her children at the helm until 1967 when it was more or less abandoned and fell into a sorry state of repair; squatters, graffiti artists, Satanists and others of nefarious habits took up residence and even burnt down part of the structure. What had once been a Bulawayo landmark and legend now became a shabby, rain-invaded ruin.
Enter our second striking character and visionary, Digby Nesbitt, a businessman from Chiredzi. In 1988 Digby bought the Castle from Paul Holdengarde, seeing in the crumbling walls and vandalised rooms the seed of an idea. With his friend John Osborne the plan was hatched to renovate the Castle, restore it to its former glory and open it as a boutique hotel... Easier conceived than executed!
Little did these two realise the enormity of the undertaking. Some of the thick granite walls that Theodore had so lovingly built with his amateur team now needed underpinning and reinforcing with 20th century techniques and ceilings and floors were hazardous after 70 years of water seepage.
With no architectural drawings to guide them and only haphazard, maze-like ramblings to follow, there were many surprises to discover Ð bricked in rooms, rooms within rooms, hidden niches and alcoves. In many ways this was a modern archaeological restoration and authenticity was retained by using both genuine and reproduction antiques and treasures. The British Museum even played a role by providing authentic specifications for the casting of contemporaneous armour and other Middle Age artefacts.
No detail was too small, no project too large and in 1990 this Medieval Madame cast off her recent dubious past to emerge in all her glory as Nesbitt Castle, a deluxe hotel of which both Theodore Albert Edward Holdengarde and Digby Sean Nesbitt can be justifiably proud.
Other information: Weddings are our speciality and we have successfully hosted many over the years.
With its unique architectural details of medieval crenellations, turrets and granite ramparts The Castle offers a most striking setting for your special day including a variety of individually decorated rooms, a grand tented pavilion and a garden chapel, to name but a few.
We are delighted to accommodate to your specific needs no matter how large or small the number of participants or how unusual or off-beat your request. We like to think that we are up-to-date with all the latest wedding trends and we take great pride in delivering a highly personal and individual service to each and every one of our discerning clients.
At The Nesbitt Castle our experienced and friendly staff are always on hand with suggestions for the perfect location, the most suitable menu and a whole host of other advice to suit your personal choices and budget. Your options are limitless, our style and class are matchless.
The tradition of bridesmaids dressing the same as each other and in similar style to the bride comes from ancient days when it was believed that evil spirits have a more difficult time distinguishing which one is the bride and putting a hex on her.