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Bryce Ross Memorial Church, Pirie Mission Station
King William's Town district, Eastern Cape

J BATE: Architect


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32°47'38.51" S 27°14'31.82" E Alt: 630m
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The opening of the Memorial Church coincided with the Jubilee of Rev. John Ross of the Glasgow Missionary Society, on 12 April 1874 and was attended by more than 1000 people, with missionaries from other churches in attendance including Wesleyan, London Missionary Society and Lutheran. Also in attendance were 'Bate (Architect of the Church), [and] Hendry (builder).'

The opening was evidently delayed, 'caused partly by the great enlargement of the original plan, and partly by the difficulty in obtaining steady supplies of material and steady work. But all difficulties were at length overcome and we now most heartily congratulate the Rev. Bryce Ross on the large, substantial and thoroughly suitable building ... the church is a strong massive building of 72ft (22 metres) by 32ft (9.7 metres), on the eminence just behind the house of the Rev. Bryce Ross. It is visible from a considerable distance in any direction, and itself commands a fine view of the eastern end of the Amatola range with the Buffalo valley in the distance. At the end facing this view is a low, but solid and handsome square tower, in four tiers, and finished off with battlements. It contains a fine bell sent out as a gift by ladies in Scotland. The body of the church is lighted by seven narrow windows on each side, and between each two and at the corners are smartly finished buttresses, that add much to the look of the building. At the west end is the Vestry and Session House, a large and commodious room. The windows and doors are slightly pointed, and the whole appearance is both thoroughly ecclesiastical and thoroughly substantial. The inside corresponds with the outside. There is no attempt at finery. The seats are strong, plain and comfortable. The roof is lofty but not too much so. And the pulpit, or rather platform and desk, in its simple but pleasing style, is in harmony with all the rest. ... Total cost of the building - £2,500. Contributed by the people about Pirie, about £1000 ... It was originally proposed to build a church costing about £900 ... Plans were obtained and the work was entered on. But the Foreign Missions Committee, learning what was in prospect, sent word that as the church would be a memorial one, it ought to be of more pretensions than might otherwise be advisable, and promised help. The plan was accordingly enlarged, and the tower and vestry added. Everything had risen in price too since they began and so the £900 of original estimate appeared today as a bill of £2500. ... Mr. J. Bate, the architect of the Church, said he was very glad to be present to celebrate at once this Jubilee and the completion of the Jubilee Church. The building had been finished without a single accident, and he hoped the end of it would not be like the end of so many other Pirie churches, by the ravages of war.'

Ref: "Kaffir Express". Lovedale Missionary Institution Press, Lovedale. 1 May 1874, pages 5-8.

Information provided by Liz de Wet of the Cory Library, Rhodes University. Submitted by William MARTINSON.

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

Vazi, Clifford Mlandeli. 1988. The History of Pirie Mission and the amaHleke Chiefdom. Grahamstown: MA thesis, Rhodes University. pg 23