The land on which Mount Nelson Hotel is now situated was granted to Baron Pieter Van Rheede van Oudtshoorn. This land was known as Oudtshoorn Gardens (at this time, the term ‘garden’ was used to describe a small farm).
Baron Pieter returned to Holland and while there, was appointed the new governor of the Cape. However, he died en route back to Cape Town, and Oudtshoorn Gardens was subsequently subdivided and sold.
When people died aboard a ship, they were normally buried at sea, but Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn was kept in a lead-lined coffin and preserved in brandy for four months until his ship reached Cape Town.
He was buried with ceremony, and his tombstone can now be seen on the outer wall of Cape Town’s Groote Kerk.
How fortuitous that there was a lead-lined coffin and several (or more) litres of brandy available on board for this purpose. Was that a regular cargo, I wonder, or did someone suspect that Oom Piet was going to pop his (quite literally, one would imagine) clogs?
There’s little information as to how he died, and there’s certainly no evidence to suggest that this is what happened to him, but when I go, I think that drowning in a lead-lined coffin filled with brandy would be both pretty cool and rather practical.
He probably would have tasted great upon arrival in Cape Town.
Anyway, his information, which I discovered by accident on the Wikipedia page for the (Belmond) Mount Nelson Hotel (don’t ask), explains the why the suburb behind the building (Gardens) is called what it is, and also the name of the next road left after the hotel: Rheede Street.
I also learned that during the influenza outbreak of 1919, the Mount Nelson was described as a “plague-free zone”.
Much like the rest of Cape Town that year, then.