Chris Bennett, Naval Heritage Trust
The Out and About column of Thursday September 14 (“Unpacking the stories of Joy Packer”,, Bulletin) refers.
Your columnist has unfortunately got it totally wrong. Admiral Sir Herbert Packer was Indeed C-in-C SASA post Second World War, however he retired in 1953 which means that his residence in that post was Admiralty House in Simon’s Town and not in Bishopscourt.
In fact, the room in which Joy Packer wrote her books is recorded as such in the story of the Simon’s Town Admiralty House and was a veranda off the main bedroom which was glassed in for this purpose.
The Bishopscourt building only became the Royal Navy Admiralty House in 1957 when the South African Navy took over Simon’s Town Naval Base from the Royal Navy and the Simon’s Town Admiralty House passed into the hands of the South African Navy.
Regretfully, therefore, Joy Packer would never have been an official resident in the house that the columnist describes.
Fiona Chisholm, Out and About columnist, responds:
Thank you for putting not only me right but all the members of the Wine Tasters’ Guild who attended the annual dinner last month held in the Old Mutual’s gracious entertaining venue in Klaasens Road, Bishopscourt. I quote the circular sent out by our most efficient secretary but I am sure she too will bow to your expert knowledge. “This elegant mansion was formerly Admiralty House where the Royal Navy housed its Admiral Southern African Station, its last incumbent being Admiral Packer. Acquired by The Old Mutual it was restored to its former glory and is now used as that organisation’s main venue for entertaining local and international VIP’s and top-flight conferences. We are indeed fortunate to have it as a venue.”
However I am, glad we did not know the truth because the Joy Packer connection made the annual dinner particularly enjoyable.