John Webster, a baker by trade,
and the man who built Ann’s Villa, was born in Glasgow,
Scotland on 12-4-1817. He met his wife Ann Elizabeth Whall (b 24-11-1819) in London,
and they were married in 1839 and lived in Shadwell. In 1849 the Webster family sailed
to Algoa Bay on board the Scindean. They resided in Victoria street, Port Elizabeth.
In 1854 John Webster sold his bakery and bought the farm “Kleinplaas” (Now Ann’s Villa)
from Mr Grobbelaar. The family appear to have lived in the old cottage (Bergview Terrace,
Later renamed Verbena Cottage). John baked for the road builders who were 10 km away at
Stebbings Convict Station. The Zuurberg pass was officially opened in 1858 and Ann’s Villa,
in its current form was built and opened in 1864.The villa was named after Ann who died a
year after it was opened. She was 46 and had borne 14 children in her lifetime.
A year after Ann’s death, John Webster married Mary Ann Jenkins (b 5-8-1824).
In 1867 diamonds were discovered and the diamond rush began.
With its seven rooms the villa boomed. It’s base at the foot of the Zuurberg Pass was perfect
for the blacksmith, wheelwright, bakery and shop. (the latter is still in the villa and
virtually unchanged). In 1896 a post office and a school were added.
The corrugated iron shed with its sprung floor was ordered from England as a kit and used both
as a shearing shed and for the local dances. Ann’s Villa was the centre for a very active tennis
club as well as the oldest shooting club in the Eastern Cape.
The area surrounding Ann’s Villa was the closest the Boer War got to Port Elizabeth and wounded
soldiers recovered at the Villa, whilst the shop was raided by Boer commandoes.
In 2005 over 100 descendants of John Webster and George Hall,
gathered at Ann’s Villa for a family reunion.