Considering that I’ve lived in Durban most of my life and never heard anything of them I’m finding this whole thing about Trappist Monks, mission stations and early KwaZulu Natal history quite fascinating to tell the truth (it’s a bit like being a child in a sweet shop) perhaps mostly just because it’s all quite a new discovery for me.

Trappist Monks follow quite a devout form of Christianity choosing not to engage in any unnecessary banter as it “disturbs a disciple’s duty for quietude and receptivity, and may tempt one to exercise one’s own will instead of the will of God.” Everyone to their own I guess but you can’t help but respect and admire anyone who gives that level of devotion to anything in life be it career, love, sport or faith?

“Following the 48th chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict, most Trappist monasteries produce goods which are sold to provide income for the monastery ranging from cheese, bread and other foodstuffs to clothing and coffins. As the order does not require abstention from alcohol, some monasteries produce and sell alcoholic beverages. Monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Orval Abbey and Westvleteren Abbey, brew beer both for the monks and for sale to the general public. Trappist beers contain residual sugars and living yeast, and, as bottle-conditioned beers do, will improve with age. These have become quite famous and are considered by many beer critics to be amongst the finest in the world.”

A recent visit to the King’s Grant Country Retreat in Ixopo to shoot the next instalment of Safintra Roofing’s ‘Great South African Architecture’ campaign introduced me to this most fascinating history story and the discovery of some of the most spectacular heritage architecture I have seen. The owners of the farm land upon which this particular mission is situated (St Isadore) have been painstakingly working at restoring these age-old buildings to their original glory (and well done to them indeed).

Below then a handful of captures from the original old mill building that was originally used by the Trappist Monks to grind corn and make flour for bread, for self-consumption and also for sale to the local community.

Read more about the Trappist Monks and follow the fascinating Trappist Trail HERE.

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