The Village of Cookhouse was located on the Farm; 'Roodewal', near a River crossing. It probably derived its name from a small stone structure, over the Great Fish river which, until 1819 was the Eastern boundary of the Cape. The Building was used by British military patrols as a halt, during which they could shelter inside and prepare their meals. Hence the name of a "cookhouse". Cookhouse is now a small Village located in Eastern Cape Province some 170 km North of Port Elizabeth and 25 km East of Somerset East, on the West bank of the Great Fish River, which formed the Eastern boundary of the Cape Colony until 1819.
Cookhouse has a famous Railway Station, once vital and bustling, and now, though still in use, a shadow of what it was in its heyday. The sense of the ghosts of the past hovering over the Station can be noted by passengers passing through, has been imortalised in verse in Chris Mann’s poem, “On Cookhouse Station”.
Cookhouse has much for the History buff; the Slachter’s Nek Monument, on the site of the infamous hangings, the Thomas Pringle cairn, the Monument erected to commemorate the Fallen Heroes of the Struggle, and the Fairworld Fine Wool Museum, showing the history of farming and wool production in this rich farming area.
With the help of an old farmworker the grave of Frans Johannes Van Aardt, was found on the Farm Roodewal. The Farm once belonged to Frans Johannes. He was born on the 12th September 1777 and died 6 Jun 1856 Roodewal Farm, Somerset East, Eastern Cape of Good Hope. His two wives are buried with him. The first wife was Susanna Wilhelmina TREGARDT married 21st October 1798 & Maria Johanna MENTZ married 11 Mar 1826. The Grave is situated near the Fish River (it's a miracle that it wasn't washed away in the 1974 floods which caused a lot of damage to the site!)
The Fairworld Fine Wool Museum was set up by Willem van Aardt to capture the History of a Century of; the Fairworld Merino Stud. The Museum not only tells the story of Fine Wool breeding in South Africa in general, but also the History of the van Aardt family, which has been farming at Roodewal for more than two Centuries, since 1797. The Museum is situated close to Cookhouse, next to the Elizwe Ceramic Studio, and visits can be arranged with reasonable short notice. The Museum is open most Saturdays between 10.00 and 11.30, but it would be advisable to confirm your visit by prior arrangement.