Drostdy - Now Museum
William Oliver JONES: Architect
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This is the major surviving work of its designer, the Government architect William Oliver Jones; Samuel Flemming supervised its erection. Completed and occupied in 1824, it is the finest Regency building in the Cape and was proclaimed a historical monument in 1953. Anthony Trollope in his South Africa mentions a rumour that Lord Charles Somerset had meant to use it as his shooting-box and built it at the expense of the Crown. Intended as the official residence of the landdrost, it eventually included accommodation in the basement floor for the whole of the public offices: a court-room, the offices of the landdrost, the district secretary and the clerk, and a waiting-room. Of palatial size, dominating the town down the length of the main street, the facade is flanked by two projecting bow fronts rising to the full height of the building and forming the side wings. Recessed between them is the main block, with a projecting portico in the centre approached by two generous curving flights of stone steps. The pediment of the porch, originally decorated with the coat of arms of Great Britain, is supported on four plain ironwood Tuscan columns coupled in pairs at the corners. The windows on the upper main storey, 12 ft (4 metres) high, reach down to the floor level of the rooms behind and are provided with decorative wrought-iron balconies. The roof was originally of thatch. The position of the Drostdy in relation to the lay-out of the town epitomises the fundamental principles of authoritarian town-planning. The building suffered slight damage in the earthquake of 1969. (SESA 6:235)
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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