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Dockyard Church - Second, St George's Dockyard Church
Simonstown, Western Cape

William Oliver JONES: Architect
Herbert Thomas JONES: Architect

Date:1820-1824 : 1898
Client:Anglican Church


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34°11'30.98" S 18°25'41.66" E Alt: 14m

This was a 'temporary' fitting up of a room in the dockyard to replace the warehouse conversion into a church in 1814 of THIBAULT, which collapsed in 1820. John MELVILL prepared designs for a church, but, through no fault of his own, this was not executed. After the Anglican community in Simon's Town had lost both their places of worship to winter storms, the first in 1824 (old horse stables) and the second in 1825 (an old store), they were offered temporary accommodation in the sail-loft of a large building which was constructed in 1815 by the British Naval Establishment when they moved from Cape Town to Simon's Town. This building constructed under Rear-Admiral Brenton's authority comprised of a mast-house and boatstore, with a working sail-loft and sail-storeroom above, all of which were surmounted by a clock-tower which was added later. Soon the sail-loft church had a more definite appearance, but the altar and pews had to be placed against the sidewalls each weekday in order that sailmaking could continue unimpeded. This irritated Commodore CM Schomberg, Flag Officer of the Royal Navy (1829-1831), as he claimed this continual moving of pews and the altar disrupted sailmaking and he ordered the Anglicans out of the sail-loft. Thereafter they relied on the goodwill of the Wesleyans until their own church, St Francis Church, was completed in July 1837. In 1851 Commodore Christopher Wyvill (1849-52), Flag Officer of the Royal Navy, declared that the sail-loft was once more to become a place of worship as the spiritual welfare of the Royal Navy was essential and a naval Chaplain was appointed. The sail-loft then became known as the St George's Dockyard Church. By 1898 the Royal Navy personnel had greatly increased and HT JONES was commissioned for redesigning of the sail-loft building in the Simon's Town Naval Docks and requested to make the necessary alteration by redesigning the interior of the sail-loft to accommodate this increase. This he did most successfully and the interior is little changed from his original design. The Naval church was consecrated in December 1945 by the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr John Darbyshire. It is now an inter-denominational church while the mast-house has become the SA Naval Museum (opened 1993).

Writings about this entry

Alberts, Paul. 1992. South African military buildings photographed : an historical heritage. Cape Town: The Gallery Press. pg 64, 65 ill
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 47-48, 220
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 77 [WO Jones, 1824 not 1864], 91
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1971. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 4 Dev-For. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 54
Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pg 114
Walker, Michael. 2010. Simon's Town : An historical review with early postcard illustrations. Cape Town: Michael Walker. pg 30 + ill, 31, 50 ill.