Although grazing rights on the lands around the Tokai Manor House were originally held by Simon van der Stel, the estate was sold in 1792 to Johan Andreas Rauch, chief of the armoury and head caretaker of the Groote Schuur Estate.
The following owner, Andreas Teubes, was responsible for the construction of a manor house which French master architect, Louis Michel Thibault, is credited to have designed.
The very high front stoep (verandah), with its massive round pillars, was created by dramatically curving the twin flights of stairs. The residence was completed in 1796 and was described as the most outstanding homestead in the Cape Peninsula.
The cost of building this splendid house ruined Teubes and he was forced into bankruptcy in 1799. In the early 1800s the residence was owned by Petrus Michiel Eksteen. He was a party-loving spendthrift who hosted the finest banquets. His parties were well-known and his cellars always well-stocked. (He was eventually declared insolvent in 1849.)
During one of Eksteen’s New Year’s Eve parties, his son Frederick accepted a wager from his father to ride his horse up the staircase and into the dining room.
The guests watched expectantly as he mounted the steep steps of the Manor House on horseback. The horseman circled the dining room table, hooves clattering, spurred on by cheers and laughter from the revellers.
Tragedy followed. The dinner guests rose to watch horse and mount depart. While descending the exceptionally steep steps, the horse tripped and both horse and rider fell. The game young man broke his neck in the fall and lay dead alongside his horse at the bottom of the staircase.
It is said that the spectral horse and rider still canter through the forest and sometimes, especially on New Year’s Eve, they still try to repeat their foolhardy act.
Over the years there have been several reports about the pair frequenting the area around the Manor House. Without a logical explanation, sometimes exuberant laughter and neighing of horses can be heard from inside the Manor House at night. In the dark early hours of the morning forestry workers have heard a horse at full gallop along the road. The rider reportedly wears clothes from a bygone era heads straight towards the old house and mounts the steps!