It is a well- known fact that Zimbabwe’s greatest wealth is in her magnificent landscapes. The endless stretches of fiery savannah or the glistening surface of Lake Kariba beneath an African moon cannot fail to stir the heart and mind. But as is often the case, one of Zimbabwe’s greatest treasures lies at the end of a road less travelled.
Driving through the gates at La Rochelle Country House, one could easily mistake it for an old English garden. A lush carpet of green lawn sweeps up toward a magnificent bed of roses which blooms at the foot of the grand old building of La Rochelle. The view of the Eastern Highlands makes the 3 hour drive down the Mutare Road an awesome experience, in the true sense of the word.
Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld were an eccentric couple who made their money in textiles. When flying over the Pehnalonga Valley en route to Kenya, the plane was landed and La Rochelle estate became the Courtauld’s last and most magnificent home. The wealth of the Courtaulds was largely invested in philanthropy and major construction projects. Many of the buildings we love today were funded by the old family, including the the National Gallery in Harare, the Kukwanisa Farm School in Nyanga, and the auditorium of the College of Music. The couple never had children, and upon their death, La Rochelle was donated to the nation.
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