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History of Hebron Haven

Two kilometres along the road to The Dargle, as it’s known, off the old R103 in the Lions River area, you’ll find the gorgeous Hebron Haven Hotel. With its magnificent rambling gardens and massive trees, it’s a charming destination even for a day visit.


Carl Preller was the first owner of the property that was formerly part of a government land grant designed to encourage settlers to inhabit the nether regions of the then all-powerful British Empire. Preller was granted 2 495 hectares in 1849.

This covered the area as far as where Midmar Dam is today as well as through to Lions River, up the Dargle and further.
He died in 1870, after falling off his horse. It’s said he was father to two layabout sons, and supposedly buried boxes of gold coins on the property before his death to keep them from squandering it. He died without revealing the treasure’s whereabouts.

Giving credence to the myth, a box of coins was reportedly unearthed when the road to Dargle was tarred.

Hebron was approximately one day’s travel from Pietermaritzburg, on the great road North to the gold fields, and as such was an ideal place to stop over for the night after having forded the M’geni River. In much the same way the Howick Falls Hotel owed it’s origins. There were many such places of accommodation that developed as stopovers for weary travellers and Lumbermen, working to supply the gold fields with building materials. Early Hebron would have seen these travellers camping out next to their wagons, as the original homestead was the only building at the time. Up until the big floods of 1987 there were the rutted tracks of wagons over the ford of the uMngeni. Unfortunately these rocks were washed away in the floods. It is said that Preller sold the farm to a Mr. Boschoff for a bottle of whisky.

Hebron then passed into the hands of Col Gardener around 1920. Mrs Gardener – his daughter, who was a near neighbour, had some excellent photographs of early Hebron Haven. These photos show the construction of the first rooms attached to the building as well as the two rooms still standing at the front entrance (circa 1923). It said that these rooms were the original post office for the area. There is a photograph of an old Gum tree that was allegedly the biggest Gum tree growing in the district. The trunk of this tree is still evident in the garden today. During the second world war, Hebron was “issued” with 3 Italian POW’s who helped build many of the buildings now standing.

The hotel developed around the concept of providing accommodation to travellers and this lead to rooms being built as demand increased. Later with the development of Michaelhouse and Hilton there was great demand for accommodation during their sporting events and on weekends when parents came to visit the boys. Earlier years saw Hebron as a working farm and the home of the Lions River Polo Club. Guest farms as getaway destinations were also at a time very popular.

As business improved so more rooms were needed. Old storerooms and outbuildings were converted into rooms as these amenities were moved further from the public view. This has given rise to the “Old English” feel of Hebron Haven. Every room has its own character. Unfortunately this is a bit of a builder’s nightmare with no uniformity in design, shape or structure. Doors and windows were fitted, as they were available, with very little matching the next building. However this gives Hebron it’s own charm and uniqueness, as no two rooms are alike.

A vast refurbishment program has led to the upgrade of the main building and the hotel rooms. Luxurious decor, exquisite bedding and attention to detail, has resulted in beautiful rooms that are a pleasure to stay in. Coupled with the hospitality offered by the on site restaurant and bar, Humphrey's of Hebron, guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends. 

The main building has a very comfortable lounge to relax in, read a book, chat with friends or just enjoy the ambiance of the country in front of the fireplace. The pub, formerly known as “The King and Riddle” is a firm favourite with the locals. Sporting events, locals’ night on Thursdays and Fridays and Sunday lunches fill the pub and patio to capacity, adding to the spirit of the hotel. Hebron Haven is child friendly and family orientated.

The grounds have seen extensive work too. The pond with resident ducks, "Drunk" and "Disorderly" in situ has been landscaped and the pool area has been refurbished. Tennis courts are available for social games and the river frontage is perfect for long and lingering picnics at sunset. The birdlife is prolific so avid birders will be rewarded with sightings of fish eagles, hoopoes, Knysna Loerie, weavers and so much more. 

Hebron Haven Hotel is ideally situated ... with the north facing patio, extensive grounds, great food and on-site amenities there is no need to leave the property. But the beautiful Midlands is on our doorstep for you to experience... wine-tasting, go-karting, river rafting, zip lining, horse riding, cycling, hiking and meandering are all waiting for you!

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