Metropolitan Methodist Church
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The second-oldest remaining building facing Greenmarket Square is the Wesleyan or Methodist Church of which the foundation stone was laid in 1876. The architect of what was long considered the finest church in the Colony was Charles Freeman. He produced a masterpiece of high-Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, adhering closely to his source of inspiration. It is a basilica type of church, with the lean-to roof of the aisles broken by a series of gabled transverse roofs. A tower with a tall spire stands on the corner, beside the nave at the head of the aisle. The building has fine dressed shale walls, its plinth in granite, and an interior of great beauty with its high timbered roof and a gallery supported by cast-iron columns. Its Gothic Revival sculptured stonework is equalled only by that of the Oudtshoorn DR Church.
This is the only example built in Cape Town of a full-blown high Victorian Town Church. It was considered the finest Church in the Cape Colony in the late 19th century. On the same site there had existed the Free Church of Scotland built c1848 but never used as such. It became Landsberg's Store in 1850 and was burnt down c1874. The present Church was started in 1876 and completed in 1879. The architect was C Freeman and the builder T J C Inglesby. The initial contract sum was 9 500 English pounds but it cost much more by completion, reputedly 13 000 English pounds.
The building on the left in the old black and white photograph, above left, is the Old Town House.
Rev. Barnabas Shaw, pioneer Wesleyan Methodist missionary to South Africa, who after his arrival in Cape Town on 14 April 1816, established South Africa's first Wesleyan Methodist mission station at Leliefontein in Namaqualand.
Rev. Barnabas and his wife, Jane, were buried in the Somerset Road Cemetery, Cape Town. After the closure of this cemetery, the gravestone was removed and placed inside the Metropolitan Methodist Church. (See photograph right).
The Central Methodist Mission website gives a brief history of the church.
See also the Metropolitan Hall which also housed the church offices.
(SAB Dec 1932:11; SALQB Dec 1967:58)
These notes were last edited on 2022 06 15
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.
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