Smuts House Museum is an important historical landmark in the picturesque Pretoria suburb of Irene and one of the popular attractions in Gauteng.
Nearby the popular Irene Dairy Farm is Doornkloof, the home of General Jan Smuts (1870-1950) who lived here for 40 years. Smuts, a prominent South African statesman, military leader and philosopher, served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 to 1924, and again from 1939 to 1948.
Although Smuts initially promoted racial segregation, his Fagan Report of 1948 stated that complete racial segregation in South Africa was not realistic and that limits on African migration into urban areas should be done away with. This progressive idea was strongly opposed by the National Party which, in the years to come, formalised the system of apartheid. In 1948 this philosophical difference resulted in Smuts narrowly losing the general election.
The Jan Smuts House Museum, a simple wood and iron farmhouse, is situated in a natural park of indigenous trees and shrubs planted by Smuts who was passionate about botany and wanted the veld to “come right up to the front door”. The high-ceilinged rooms with their simple furnishings emphasise Smuts’s moderate tastes. The many relics and mementos on display offer insights into his extraordinary career and include the car he used when he was prime minister. Despite his personal success, this versatile leader yearned most for peace at Doornkloof, surrounded by his many children and grandchildren.
After your tour of the house, make sure that you find time to appreciate the indigenous garden. A short walk takes you to Smuts Koppie, the rocky hill where the ashes of Smuts and his beloved wife, Isie, are scattered. A tea garden, set under tall trees, offers light refreshments.
This is an ideal venue to visit while on weekend getaways in Gauteng.
Smuts House Museum
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 4.30pm, weekends from 9.30am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 5pm.
Nellmapius Road, Irene – off the N1, Centurion