The Wilmot’s originate from England and came out with the British 1820 Settlers to be settled in Salem.
Joseph Edward Wilmot and his wife, Sussanah departed the shores of London aboard the Aurora, along with three hundred and forty three other passengers, on the 15th February 1820. He had been a transport company owner from Derby and had been recruited by the Government Settlers Scheme. They were led by Mr. Hezekiah Sephton. The Sephton party arrived at Port Elizabeth, Algoa Bay on the 15th of May 1820.
Joseph had three sons and a daughter, the second son was Samuel who had a son George whose son Maurice was your host Chester’s father. Each generation has successfully farmed mainly in the Albany and Bathurst districts. The Wilmot family, like most of the 1820 Settler families, have been farmers and known the strength of community life for generations. Schooling was at Kingswood College and Diocesan Girls School (DSG) in Grahamstown.
Milkwood Manor started out as the holiday home of the Maurice Wilmot family. He was able to choose and buy the first and best plot in Kenton-on-Sea when Kenton was proclaimed as a township in 1935. He paid the princely sum of fifty pounds sterling and to add to the bargain it already had a shack built on it with timber and corrugated iron salvaged off the wreck of the Norwegian barque, the Volo, which had sunk just across the river in 1896.
Kenton was a bit of heaven even then but took a long time to develop into what it is today because it was between the Bushmans and Kariega rivers which made access difficult. Fortunately the lack of good drinking water also slowed development
Kenton farm was bought by Charles Butt and George Wood from the Government as up to then it had been crown land. Their names can still be seen carved into the roof of the cave at the mouth of the Bushmans River. Charles bought his partner’s shares and allowed the families to camp on his farm especially at Christmas time when the families would come down by ox wagon and spend a whole month here. Maurice Wilmot chose this spot because of its proximity to the beach and wonderful view.
There were no shops so every thing had to come on the wagons with them. The families would bring chickens and some even a few sheep to slaughter to add to the fish menue.
Chester Wilmot describes life in Kenton
” Life on those holidays was sheer bliss for us children, we would spend whole days in the sun swimming and playing at Shelly Bay. Before coming to the sea my mother would bake a few four gallon tins of biscuits. Each day she would pack a cake tin of “Shelly Bay” biscuits and a “debby john” (1 gallon glass bottle) of orange juice and off we all would go to spend the day on the beach. My Dad was a legendary fisherman so we always had plenty of fresh fish. ”
” The tin shack was demolished in the 1940’s to be replaced by the house with solid block walls made from cement and shell grit from the beach. For many years our holiday house had only sand floors. Slowly over the years more and more comfort was added. When my Dad retired here in 1983 it became a home for the first time. Jean and I moved here from the family farm “The Ghio” in 1995 and added the second story and joined up the out buildings to the main house and hence the different floor levels still evident. ”
” This spot has known 80 years of joy and blessing, first as a holiday destination and later a home. Any one staying here always comments on the peace experienced here. “