pat bio

Patricia J L Werdmuller von Elgg – brief biography

pat werdmullerBorn 1927 Meerut India, in the era of the Raj (British rule), to Wendy and British colonial Officer Leslie Farmer, who was in command of Indian army troops in Waziristan on the Afghan border.

In the following years, she moved with her parents to Bannu, Kohat, Murree and Srinagar in Kashmir as the army and season dictated. The Waziristan tribal territory of the Pathans was a constant war zone.

Aged six, Patricia Werdmuller von Elgg was sent to boarding school in England, as was the custom for children of English parents in India. Her education was interrupted by no less than ten voyages between India and England – four of them due to the last world war.

Patricia obtained her demobilisation and transport back to India after the war had ended in 1945 and then went to India to join her father in Rawalpindi where he resumed his army duties.

She married an RAF pilot in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) in 1947, returned to England and immigrated to South Africa in 1948. Between two unsuccessful marriages, she farmed in Mooi River, Kwazulu Natal, for six years.

After her second failed marriage, she chose to go it alone in Johannesburg and established a shopfitting business allied to the building industry, the first of its kind run by a woman in this country. This business led to her involvement in a world unique South African invention to which she acquired exclusive rights – a photopolymer petro-chemical process which had many applications, eg used to decorate all the  Sun City bedroom furniture.

Subsequently, she took this technology to the United States and set up a business there as a joint venture with Fusion Systems, a member of the Textron Group of companies (Bell Helicopter etc).

1985 saw her return to South Africa where she was involved in various projects until purchasing Hout Baai farm in McGregor in 2003 – where she is setting an example in organic wine grape farming and animal and environmental care.


werdmuller castle 3The Werdmuller Castle


The Werdmuller family is recorded from 1300 AD and their castle still exists in Elgg, a small town near Zurich in Switzerland, where it is open to the public. The title Von Elgg was bestowed for services rendered by a member of the Werdmuller family to the ruler of that domain at an early date. There are still old leather bound volumes of the family history in existence, which include the story of William Tell of “apple and arrow” fame, who actually existed and was a family member. The Werdmuller clan is very small and the senior members exert control of the inheritance. When Patricia Werdmuller von Elgg married into the family, she had to spell out her credentials to their satisfaction – a requirement before acceptance of any progeny from the union

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