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Woutersen Vault
Green Point, Cape Town, Western Cape

Herman SCHUTTE: Architect
RENNIE and GODDARD ARCHITECTS: Architect Restoration 1991

Date:pre-1827 : 1991
Type:Burial Vault
Street:Corner of Bertrand and Wessels Rds


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33°54'43.47" S 18°24'45.50" E Alt: 57m

Also referred to as the Pieter Woutersen Vault.

The plaque on the front façade reads:

Gebooren te Vlissingen in Zeeland den 25 January 1772
Overleeden aan Kaap de Goede Hoop den 20 December 1827

Among the buyers of land at Green Point in 1815 was Pieter Woutersen. He built the tomb, which is attributed to Schutte, in the 1820s, and was buried there in 1827. His widow, Maria de Villiers, later married Johan Joachim Smuts. After her death a freehold grand of a little over eleven morgen was made, in 1858, to Smuts and to his deceased wife’s son by her first marriage, P H Woutersen. The tomb, in which several other members of the family were buried, stands on this piece of land. (Fransen et al. 1965: 21)

It was erected in 1827 by the widow of Peter Woutersen. His granddaughter married Jacobus Christoffel Wessels, whose son, Sir John Wessels, became Chief Justice of South Africa. Various members of the family lived on the estate. Some prominent citizens have been buried here, inter alia Adv. M. L. Wessels, brother of Sir John Wessels, former Chief Justice of the Union.

Because the vault had been broken into by thieves who stole the ornaments of the coffins and other valuables, the great iron door of the vault was eventually permanently sealed. Consequently, the last member of the family who died on the estate was buried outside the vault.

The neo-classical style of the vault is very confidently ascribed to the well-known master builder Herman Schutte. The structure stands directly in line with the entrance to the old Victoria Basin of the docks. On some old charts it is marked as a landmark for the guidance of ships entering the docks.

Bibliography archive: Langham-Carter MS:23 ; Rennie & Goddard Architects "Restoration of the Woutersen-Wessels Vault for the National Monuments Council" April 1991.

It was declared a national monument in 1961 (Gazette No 6664, 14/04/1961). It is now a provincial heritage site.

(SAHRIS, accessed 2020 07 13)

These notes were last edited on 2020 07 13

Writings about this entry

Fransen, Hans & Cook, Mary Alexander. 1965. The old houses of the Cape : a survey of the existing buildings in the traditional style of architecture of the Dutch-settled regions of the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 21