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Settler Church - Methodist
Port Alfred, Eastern Cape

Date:1827 : 1939
Type:Methodist Church
Status:Extant


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33°35'07.86" S 26°54'15.74" E Alt: 59m
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Wording on the National Monuments Council plaque:

SETTLERS CHURCH:
THE FIRST SETTLER CHURCH ON THIS SITE WAS OPENED ON
25 NOVEMBER 1827. IT WAS BURNED DOWN IN THE FRONTIER
WAR OF 1834-35. RESTORED IN 1840. AGAIN BURNED IN 1846
AND LATER PARTIALLY REBUILT. A MAJOR RESTORATION
TOOK PLACE IN 1939 ON THE OLD FOUNDATION USING
MUCH ORIGINAL MASONRY.
National Monuments Council
1978

The exact origin and date of acquisition of the church bell are unknown. According to Grocott's Mail (1939), it was once a ship's bell and later, used at the old convict station in Port Alfred to call prisoners to meals. The sneezewood posts on which the bell was originally mounted were replaced with new sneezewood beams - and the bell restored - in 1978.

Submitted by Dorothy Adendorff

When Dorothy Adendorff went there in 2013, preparations were being made for a wedding which was to take place in the church, so it seems it is still used occasionally.

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The church was built in 1823 by the Settlers themselves at the instigation of the enthusiastic Rev. William Shaw. It was built of stone and had a clay floor and a thatched roof, while the pulpit also was constructed of clay. But for the tiny community it was a sanctuary where men like William Shaw, John Ayliff and H. H. Dugmore often conducted the services. It was burned down during the War of the Axe in 1846 and stood derelict for a number of years. Eventually it was divided in two by means of a cross-wall and the front portion roofed with corrugated iron so that it could once more be used for religious services. During the Anglo-Boer War a considerable number of Boer families were sent to Port Alfred, and one of them made their home in one half of the church. Later the floor was covered with sea sand and the building served as a Sunday school classroom. In time the building became more and more neglected; creepers covered the walls and penetrated under the eaves into the interior while, to one side, a tree grew out of a side wall. In 1925 an energetic committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Mr. E. H. Estment to collect funds for the restoration of the church. This was no easy task but it was successfully completed in 1938.

(Oberholster, 1972: 147)

Proclaimed: 18-03-1966.

See Provincial Heritage Site listing on SAHRA

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Images on the right of the page:

MEMORIAL BROCHURE: SETTLERS CHURCH, PORT ALFRED, by C. Thorpe (1978)
Published by Express Litho Services

Submitted by Dorothy Adendorff

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 147
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 108
Richardson, Deidré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 36