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The suburb of Oranjezicht (meaning “sight of orange”) was named for the spectacular view it had of the orange groves in the Company Gardens. The Company Gardens were planted by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 to provide vital foods to the passing sea trade. Abbey Manor, was built in 1905 for David Edward McConnell, a British businessman newly arrived in what was then the Cape Colony. David McConnell was a director of the Union Castle Shipping Line, then the primary means of transport between Europe and South Africa.

The house was designed by the architect William Black, who was responsible for a wide range of famous buildings in Cape Town. Although less well-known than his contemporary Herbert Baker, he is more widely renowned for the arts-and-crafts movement in the Cape Province. The house was named “Abbey Manor” after the Manor house at Bisham, known as Abbey Manor although actually a primary and not in fact an abbey. This Manor house was a memory from his youth, and was the model David McConnell wished to follow in building in Cape Town.