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Maritzburg College, Clark House
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal

Philip Maurice DUDGEON: Architect



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29°37'01.39" S 30°22'52.92" E Alt: 649m

Situated in Pietermaritzburg, Clark House is large red brick building at the heart of Maritzburg College. Architect P M Dudgeon was commissioned to design a large classroom and boarding block for the school’s new campus on College Road. Built in the neo-Gothic style (SAHRA) from 1887, it carries the name of Headmaster R D Clark who first occupied the building with his family.

The two-storey, loosely U-shaped structure displays many characteristics of Victorian neo-Gothic architecture which spread to the English colonies during the latter half of the 19th century. It features angular bay windows, pointed arched gables, steep pitched roofs, stained hardwood floors, small gardens and a generous wraparound porch on the north-west wing. The sandstone clad windows are particularly striking in their number and design. The jambs are simply decorated, and two levels of panes are separated by a stone transom. All the windows are divided vertically by stone mullions and feature limited tracery. The panes are ornate, with white-painted muntins. The stone window heads, sills and jambs all lie flush with the building’s brickwork. There is a band of patterned, contrasting diamond brickwork, edged with stone, decorating the length of the building between the two floors. Air vents in the gables have stone hood moulds. What appears to be a copper-roofed, white wooden ventilator (with weathervane) sits centrally on the roof. There is an oriel window above the main entrance door, with a decorative stone support. The tiled roof is topped with ornate clay ridge-cresting and the brick chimney stacks feature sandstone crown caps. Verandahs were added to many South African Victorian buildings, providing protection against the elements. The Clark House verandah has a tiled roof and simple white posts and brackets, with no iron lacework. It is an imposing, well-proportioned building and is aesthetically pleasing, with the contrasting colours of brick, sandstone and paintwork and extensive decorative detailing.

In terms of functionality and sustainability, Clark House is now a National Heritage site (along with the adjacent Victoria Hall (1897)) and continues to serve the ever-expanding school over a century on. It currently houses Grade 9 to 11 scholars and school prefects. “Friday night shouting” roars from the House’s open brick-paved courtyard before Saturday sporting fixtures and war cries echo down the historic corridors. Clark House has adapted successfully to serve its community and the hallowed “Old Walls” (Alan Paton, 1963) will continue to provide for Maritzburg College boys for a very long time to come.

(Paul Bradford, University of Pretoria – BSc Architecture, July 2021)

Declared a National Monument in 1975 it in now a Provincial Heritage Site.

These notes were last edited on 2021 08 02

Writings about this entry

Hawthorn, Peter & Bristow, Barry. 1993. Historic Schools of South Africa : an ethos of excellence. Cape Town: Pachyderm Press. pg 120-133
Hillebrand, Melanie. 1975. Aspects of architecture in Natal, 1880 1914. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished MA. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pg 169
Laband, John & Haswell, Robert F. 1988. Pietermaritzburg : 1838-1988 : A new portrait of an African city. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press : Shuter & Shooter. pg 55 ill, 105, 115, 151, 152, 154, 244, 245, 250
Martin, Marilyn H. 1980. Philip Maurice Dudgeon, architect: his work in Natal during period 1877 1888 seen against his background of Victorian Britain and Natal. Johannesburg: Unpublished MArch. thesis University of the Witwatersrand. pg 51
Radford, D. 2002. A Guide to the Architecture of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Cape Town: David Philip. pg 114