The story of G.G. Cillie’s house

The story of G.G. Cillie’s house

This beautiful gable house, hidden at the back of Metanoia and Heemstede, was built by a famous Stellenbosser, and his neighbour was also a legend.

Prof G.G. Cillié and mr. Paul Roos lived as neighbours in two identical houses in Van Riebeeck Street. Most of the houses in this street (today Heemstede’s lawns) had similar layouts – large gardens bordered by the meulsloot and with a view on the mountains. The gabled house in the picture belonged to Prof Cillié, but Paul Roos’s next door was demolished.

In one anecdote (from the book by Annie Hofmeyr), G.G. Cillié was busy teaching at the university one day when his lecture was interrupted by a visitor at the door. It was his friend Paul Roos, rector of the gimnasium, arriving unannounced. Paul Roos had remembered it was his neighbour’s birthday and rushed to the education faculty to congratulate him. Walking up to the lecturer with a big smile and outstretched hand, Paul Roos leisurely started wishing him a prosperous year, without flinching at the staring students.

Prof Cillié ‘s son, also G.G. Cillié (1910 – 2000) was an academic like his father, and studied (among other things), Astronomy at Oxford and Harvard! – read more about him at

Stellenbosch’s University was established almost 100 years ago, in 1819. The institution was originally called the Victoria College, something I will write about in a future blog…

Gawie Cillié was one of the first students to complete the Higher Teachers’ Certificate at this college. He grew up on a farm in Rhebokskloof, Wellington, but exchanged the rural life for one as an educator. After his Baccalareus degree at the College, he taught for a few years, first at a school in Cradock and later in Franschhoek. Later he went oversees for further studies – first at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and later in Strasbourg in Germany.


Die fakulteit van opvoedkunde word die GG Cillié gebou genoem
The faculty of education is named after prof G.G. Cillié.

Eventually Cillié returned to Stellenbosch where he was appointed as head of classical languages. When the Victoria College was declared a University, there was a total of 558 students and 42 lecturers (Stellenbosch 3 eeue). Prof Cillié delivered the inaugural address. At the new university he was appointed as the dean of Education and later as the rector (from 1919 to 1925).

In between his academic duties he cultivated his vegetable garden in Van Riebeeckstreet, raised his seven children, and supported his wife with her work in the A.C.V.V. Annie Hofmeyer writes that the bridge over the meulsloot was in mutual ownership of Prof Cillié and Paul Roos. I wonder if it was this one…


Article and photos: Y Coetsee 2016
Sources: Stellenbosch Drie eeue (1979),
Van Riebeeckstraat, Stellenbosch (noordekant), Annie Hofmeyer (1990)

One thought on “The story of G.G. Cillie’s house

  1. Hi Anna,
    Some years ago I was in touch with Prof Cillie’s grandson also GG Cillie but over the years we have lost contact have you a contact for him? Prof GG Cillie (1910-2000) was a friend of my second cousin Dr Eric M Lindsay and they traveled the world together. Both met at Harvard years ago and remained friends until Dr Lindsay’s untimely death in 1974 while Director at Armagh Observatory. Any information would be gratefully appreciated, many thanks.
    John C McConnell FRAS.

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