Mostert Family Mausoleum
An unusual example of a mausoleum is the design and execution of the Mostert Family mausoleum at Welgelegen1, Balfour (then Transvaal, now in Mpumalanga Province). This structure is an adjunct to the homestead Welgelegen (1912) he had had designed by Herbert BAKER (later Sir) (1862-1946).
Andries (also known as Andrew) Mauritz MOSTERT2 had made his fortune out of prospecting, transport and civil engineering. Among his commissions was the construction of the Church Square project in Pretoria and the railway line from Johannesburg to Maputo. He was the founding chairman of ISCOR (SA Iron and Steel Corporation), also of the first South African directors of Barclays Bank and counted amongst his circle of friends leading politicians, including General Jan Smuts.
For his burial Mostert left somewhat unorthodox instructions, in keeping with the peculiar circumstance of having had his mausoleum constructed before the time of his death. In his will of 1925 Mostert stipulates that he should be buried in a vault on the farm ... capable of holding not less than 100 bodies at a cost of £5000 [R 10 000] Sterling.3
It is my wish and desire that on my death my body shall be embalmed and enclosed in a Teak coffin (with inner steel cover) and that I be buried in the said vault by a Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.4
Moerdijk visited Mostert in March 1933 with preliminary sketches of the planned mausoleum.5 After that Moerdijk sought tenders for the masonry and suggested the tender from one W. F. Barker:
I can say without reserve that he is the best stone mason in the Union. He has done different large stone works for me and his work is masterful.6
The sarcophagus in which the embalmed body of Mostert was to be preserved was obtained from P. Ley & Co who sourced the requisite size block of granite in Parys in the Free State.7 Mostert's ultimate last will and testament was dated 6 February 1937. By this time the mausoleum must have been completed because he explicitly stipulates:
All bodies buried in the said Mausoleum shall be embalmed and placed in suitable coffins and no cremation ashes may be placed in the Mausoleum.8
The mausoleum, built of sandstone acquired from the local Rietbult quarries, is situated about 200 metres from the main Cape Dutch Revival farmstead of Baker's design. The mausoleum has clerestory strip windows with imported deep-blue glazing. The roof is slated in blue-grey stone. The floor is laid of black marble. Located on the axis of the far end of the sight-line of the mausoleum lies Mostert's sarcophagus.
The mausoleum, in section, that of a basilica church, once entered, presents a single Soanian groin vaulted volume lined by niches and lit by the cold blue light of the clerestory above through a central rectangular oculus placed in a ceiling forming a secondary roof structure, a device much like that of the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. The side isles are designed to house the coffins of future Mosterts, an eventuality that will never be realized as the estate has by now passed into the hands of foreigners and the facilities closed to the Mostert family.9
The mausoleum was consecrated so that it might also serve as a chapel.10 Although remotely located and well secured, the mausoleum, at the time of the visit of the authors, had been broken into, even the heavily sealed stone sarcophagus had its lid disturbed and moved and some of the flanking sealed niches violated by opportunist treasure seekers.
(Extracted and edited from: FISHER, Roger C. and CLARKE, Nicholas J. 2010. Death, cremation and columbaria in the culture of Dutch Christian Calvinist South Africa. SAJAH, ISSN 0258-3542, volume 25, number 2: 69–80. pp, 74-75.)
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.