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Fordyce Conservatory
Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape

Date:1855
Type:Conservatory
Status:Demolished

The Fordyce Conservatory was built in the Grahamstown Botanical Gardens in 1855 and commemorated Lieutenant-Colonel John Fordyce who was killed in 1851 in the Amatola Mountains, north-west of Fort Beaufort, in the 8th Frontier War.

A marble commemorative tablet honouring Fordyce is mounted within the parish church in Edrom, Berwickshire, in the Borders district of Scotland, and records the details of his passing:

SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
JOHN FORDYCE, ESQUIRE
LIEUTENANT COLONEL OF HER
MAJESTY'S 74TH HIGHLAND REGIMENT
WHO FELL AT THE HEAD OF HIS REGIMENT IN ACTION
AT WATERKLOOF, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE,
ON THE 6TH NOVEMBER 1851.

HE WAS ELDEST SON OF THE LATE
THOMAS JOHN FORDYCE
ESQUIRE OF ATTON
AND ANNE, HIS WIFE
DAUGHTER OF THE LATE GEORGE BUCHAN, ESQUIRE
OF KELLOE IN THIS COUNTY.

COMBINING AS HE DID IN HIS CHARACTER
HIGH PROFESSIONAL TALENT WITH
EMINENT PRIVATE WORTH
HIS DEATH WAS MOURNED OVER BY HIS RELATIVES
AND ALL CLASSES OF HIS COUNTRYMEN
AND LAMENTED BY HIS REGIMENT
THEY HAVING LOST
IN HIM, A BRAVE AND ABLE COMMANDER AND
A GENEROUS BENEFACTOR.

HIS MORTAL REMAINS WERE BROUGHT
TO GREAT BRITAIN AT THE WISH OF THE FAMILY,
AND WERE INTERRED IN THE
CEMETERY AT KENSAL GREEN, NEAR LONDON,
ON THE 11TH OCTOBER 1852.

"IN SURE AND CERTAIN HOPE OF
THE RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST."
"BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH AND I WILL
GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE..." REV.II. CH. 10 V.

There is a reference to the Fordyce Conservatory in the Grahamstown Journal of 5 September 1879. The Conservatory appears in a photograph in the 1889 - "Views of Grahamstown from Photographs by JS Willcox". It also features in a photograph by Hepburn and Jeanes in the 1894 "Views of Grahamstown – new series", showing the adjacent lawn as well.

"Souvenir of Grahamstown", published by Guest and Son of Grahamstown in 1887 describes the Botanical Gardens with its 'Fordyce lawn, smooth as a billiard table, of bright verdant hue and velvety to the tread. ... Further on is the Fordyce Conservatory, replete with plants of beautiful foliage and bloom, and there are sundry hot houses close at hand.' It goes on to describe a 'rustic bridge spanning a reach of water', which is still there – possibly not the exact same rustic bridge, but a bridge nevertheless.

Following the demolition of the Fordyce Conservatory it was intended to rebuild it in the garden of the Observatory Museum in Grahamstown, but this did not happen. A Lily pond was apparently installed on the site the Conservatory in the Botanical Gardens.

References:

Liz de Wet, Cory Library, 20 September 2013
Fleur Way-Jones, Albany Museum, September 2013
Imperial War Museum, War Memorials Register WMR-13318 - accessed 5 April 2020)

William Martinson, April 2020.