This is a story I had the privilege to hear when I was on one of my hiking trips with Exploring Southcoast. I went out with a group on a hiking trail on the property of Royston Hall.

After the hike we enjoyed scones and coffee and Ria Hackland told us about the beautiful history of the house and  “Galloping Jack”and Mildred Royston.

So I will tell  you about some of it from my point of view. This is not all the detailed information because I would like you to go there and hear how Ria Hackland tells it with so much passion.

Who was Galloping Jack? This was his nickname. He was Austrian Commander in the 1st world war in Gaza, Brigadier General Roystan.

Known as a hero.

One day he inhaled poison gas so that he can be sure to recognize it in war when it comes. But he got terribly ill from it and that was the end of his career and was taken very ill from London to South Africa. 

This left him heartbroken because he loved his job. He was shipped to Zululand and his zulu name was “Zithulele”meaning the silent one. 

Let me tell you about Mildred Royston, his wife.

She was a novice Nun who declined taking her vows & married Royston in about 1938 which the returned to Natal to take up the Residence at Romani as it was known then, Mrs Royston remained a devout Roman Catholic throughout her life.

Let me tell you the History about the house first before I continue with their love story..

Captain Hitches commissioned the house to be built by George Sinclair & his son Colin Circa 1899-1902 for his wife as a weekend beach cottage.

It is said that Mrs Hitches arrived from Durban by steam Ship, transferred to a horse drawn trap, crossed the mighty Umzimkulu by ferry, gave the house a critical overview & rejected it outright she felt it was too remote, not on the beach & for too much of a task to take on in addition to the responsibilities of her home in Durban.

So later on Mildred and John lived there it is known that they had many celebrations there. 

The house had a wooden deck all around the house which allowed their guests to dance the night away all around the house. Imagine all those beautiful dresses swaying away and the men in their handsome suits.

Mildred used to dance for her husband under the moonlight while he watched her, sipping away on his whiskey. I can just imagine that they were very in love.

At the age of 82 Brigadier John Robinson passed away & according to his wish to stay near his beloved Mildred to protect her even in death he was buried on the property, some 20 paces from the front door in about 1978. His remains were removed & re-interred at Heroes Acre in Durban. Legend has it that at night Mildred would raise her arms to the Heavens & dance naked for the watchful spirit of her late husband.

She passed away years later.

Many residents lived there through the years.

One day Ria Hackland came across this house and saw the potential it had.

She and her husband Roderick bought the house and had it restored. They also Prayed over the house and the Holy Spirit lives there now. 

Ria loves music and art. The guest house is truly an amazing place to go to. It’s so peaceful and Beautiful. 

Ria told this story with such passion that if you want to know more you have to go to Royston Hall.

This is the perfect getaway for anybody


Ria Hackland owner at Royston hall Guest house.

Royston Lane, Umtentweni, South Africa.

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