Stewart Memorial Tower
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Located on a hill above Fort Hare University.
The Dictionary of South African Biography records that James Stewart
[DSAB I, pp. 771-2.]
The Stewart Memorial Tower is sited on the crest of Sandili's Kop, a conical, flat topped hill to the east of the Alice campus of the University of Fort Hare. The prominent, elevated site has made the Tower a significant landmark in the Town of Alice and the surrounding landscape.
The approach up to the Tower is via a rough vehicle track which terminates in a large oval grassed parking area on the west side of the hill, prior to ascending a short stepped pathway up to the Tower. The path leads the visitor up an onto an axial approach towards the north-west face of the Tower.
Sited on the axial approach is the grave of James Stewart and his wife, Mina Stewart, cut into the bedrock of the hill. The low walls of the grave are capped by a large granite grave stone, the two sloping faces of which have commemorative inscriptions. The metal inserts forming the inscriptions are not lead, but a ferrous metal, with the attendant rusting and staining of the stone surface.
The rectangular area around the grave is defined with eight short, rough-hewn granite obelisks, between which are low granite kerbs. The original chains linking the obelisks have since been removed.
Inscription on north-eastern face of the grave stone:
IN SACRED MEMORY OF
Inscription on the south-western face of grave stone:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY
When James Stewart's wife passed away in 1928 and was buried in his grave, a Scottish firm of monumental masons - J & G Mossman of Glasgow - made a combined grave stone of a grey flecked granite with two sloping faces to replace the original flat grave stone slab. J & G Mossman recorded their details on the south side of the granite slab.
The Memorial Tower is square in plan with rounded corners. The Tower sits on a projecting plinth and the significant height of the Tower is accentuated by a slight inward taper. The Tower is terminated by a 'capital' which in turn is capped by a simple Celtic cross. The Tower is constructed of hammer dressed free-stone with certain portions dressed to an even face, all of which suggests very fine craftsmanship.
At the base of the north-west elevation - on the axial approach - is a large memorial stone, smoothly dressed, minimally decorated with a small celtic cross and simply inscribed with the words:
The memorial stone is placed within a shallow recess capped by a flat arch with tall, narrow voussoirs, flanked by curved stone reveals and with a sloping stone cill. The bottom of the memorial stone is coincident with the top of the plinth. The memorial stone has unfortunately suffered the indignity of some minor graffiti in recent years.
The 'capital' of the Tower is a complex geometrical and spatial arrangement, forming a 'shelter' at the apex and allowing visual penetration through the Tower at this level. The 'capital' comprises of the following five basic elements:
[William MARTINSON, December 2010]
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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