Contact Artefacts
please if you have any comments or more information regarding this record.

Wesleyan Methodist Church - Kidwell Memorial Church
Jamestown, Eastern Cape

Type:Methodist Church


Click to view map

31°07'22.43" S 26°48'28.95" E Alt: 1617m

The name 'Kidwell Memorial Church' is carved in large v-cut Roman letters across the front (east) facade.

Useful background information on the origins of the Kidwell Memorial Church is provided below. The first document, titled 'Souvenir Handbook' celebrated the opening of the church in 1915. The transcribed text reads as follows:





January 30th and 31st, 1915.

The Primitive Methodist Church.


The late A. J. Kidwell conducted family worship in his home twice daily, and on Sundays members of his family gathered together in his dining-room when a service was held. The late Rev. H. Buckenham, with prophetic vision realised that a larger work could grow out of this, and he and the Rev. J Smith attended the sale of erven in December, 1874 when two erven were granted them free of charge by the proprietors to erect a church on. A tender for building the church of £400 was accepted. The Home Missionary Committee gave £50, Mr. Kidwell collected £200, and the balance of £150 was raised at a bazaar. The first organ for the new church arrived tied up with reims, as the wagon bringing it had capsized on the long, rough road. For thirty-six years Mr. Kidwell conducted the large majority of services, which good work was recognized by the Missionary Committee in a beautifully illuminated address. The Rev. John Bradley was the first minister appointed and he resided in Jamestown for five years. Periodical visits have been paid by Rev. J. Smith, Mr. Bulmer, Dr. Watson, Revs. G. H. Butt, G. E. Butt, F. Pickering, G. Ayre and J. Lindsay. The Rev. W. Barlow was the resident minister for two years and now the Rev. A. A. Kidwell is stationed there.

After the death of Mr. A. J. Kidwell, the inhabitants of the town and district decided to erect a church to his memory. A beautiful, substantial [neo] Gothic structure in solid stone with walls twenty inches thick, has been built costing over £1,400. Towards this the Home Missionary Committee gave £100 and Mrs Kidwell £255. A good native cause has been established for many years as the outcome of the above.

Alexander James Kidwell

(An Appreciation)




The late Alexander James Kidwell was a good Christian indeed and a good citizen. For nearly forty years - from the year 1875, when the village of Jamestown was founded, until his death on the 4th of August, 1912 – he laboured for the material, intellectual and spiritual welfare of the community among whom he lived. To his energy and enthusiasm for tree-planting we owe the avenues of fine trees which beautify our streets, and the plantations which adorn the Cemetery and Bradfield Square. Mr. Kidwell’s interests were varied; he inaugurated water schemes, a public library, and an athletic club, and spared no pains to render life in this little up-country village more worth the living. He was in truth

"A lover of his fellow men."

But above all else, he was a lover of children, and it was owing to his fostering care that the day school grew in numbers, in equipment and in efficiency.

During the whole of his residence in Jamestown he identified himself whole-heartedly and disinterestedly with the training of the young lives around him. Many young men and women, now worthy citizens of the state - among them his own son, the Rev. A. A. Kidwell, who is now minister in charge of the church at Jamestown - owe their progress and success in life to his fatherly kindness and to his care, for their welfare. He was a friend to all who were in need of a friend.

But on this day, the day of consecration of the Kidwell Memorial Church, we would dwell more especially on the spiritual influence he exerted on his fellow men. It is most fitting that a church should be raised to the memory of one, who, though a layman, yet for more than thirty years, amidst discouragement oft times, and oft times amidst hopes disappointed, worked to keep together a little band of worshippers.

Jamestown is but a village, isolated, and at that time far too small to support, alone and unaided, a minister for the little church which Mr. Kidwell had been mainly instrumental in erecting. Occasionally ministers travelled over from Aliwal North to hold services here. Some of those ministers who helped in the good work were the Revs. H. Buckenham, J. Smith, G. E. Butt. G. H. Butt, and F. Pickering. But the road between Aliwal North and Jamestown is long and tedious, and in those pre-motor days conveyances were slow and roads were bad, so that these ministerial visits were very rare, and the brunt of the work fell on the shoulders of our friend. Morning and evening, Sunday after Sunday, year in and year out, he held services, to which there came members, not of one, but of many denominations, and all were benefitted. He did not prepare and preach his own sermons; he read those of other men, “often better than they themselves could preach them." He drew from all sources, and if only the sermon conveyed some great truth no religious bias hindered him from making use of it and adapting it to the needs of his varied congregation. Many have spoken of the benefit they derived from those services, and who can estimate the influence for good which in ever-growing streams flows on from this modest source down through the widening avenues of time!

When on that Sunday morning, the 4th of August, 1912, Alexander James Kidwell was called to his last long rest, there passed from our midst, a true Christian gentleman and a man who was well worthy to be called

"The father of Jamestown."



The second document is a typescript copy of an illuminated address handed over at a ceremony, which took place in the Kidwell Memorial Church, Jamestown C. P. on Sunday morning August 26th 1951. The Rev W. A. Rimmington, of Aliwal North, presented Mr. R. H. Kidwell, on behalf of the Trust Committee of the Church, with a beautiful illuminated address.


Reginald Hilary Kidwell of Jamestown C. P.

Son of the late A. J. Kidwell S. J. P.

The Trust Committee of the

Kidwell Memorial Church; Jamestown, wish to place on record

their deep appreciation of the religious services rendered by

Mr. R. H. Kidwell,

during his long life of 72 years, lived exclusively in Jamestown.

It is largely due to his tenacity, faith & zeal that the doors of

the Kidwell Memorial Church are open today. His advice, energy &

generosity assisted greatly in erecting the Church to the memory of

his Father, whom he dearly loved. He has played the organ, in the

old Church & the new one for fifty five years. He put his soul into

the playing & created the atmosphere for worship.

He conducted the Sunday School for many years & kept on, until there

was not one English-speaking child in the town who could attend.

He saw to the renovating & cleaning of the Church. He carried

through the scheme to build the commodious Sunday School which has

been used by various organisations for the good of the community.

The Natives or, Africans, call him their Father in Christ. He

preached for years in their church & he was recognised as their

most trusted European friend.

They took their joys & their sorrows to him, & he increased their

joys & shared their sorrows.

The Trust Committee prays that he, & his devoted wife, may be spared

for years to continue to enrich the spiritual life of the town.

Chairman, A. A. KidwellVice -Chairman, F. A. von Hirschberg;
Secretary, A. F. R. Lyons,Treasurer, Miss F. H. von Hirschberg.

Scanned copies of both the above documents provided by Liz de Wet of the Cory Library, Rhodes University, Grahamstown.


Souvenir Handbook, Kidwell Memorial Church, Jamestown, 1915. Cory Library Ref: PR 2143

Typescript copy of Illuminated Address given to R H Kidwell, Kidwell Memorial Church, Jamestown, 1951. Cory Library Ref: MS 15 551

Submitted by W MARTINSON

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.

Writings about this entry

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2015. Church tourism in South Africa : a travel odyssey. South Africa: Self-published by Philippe Menache and Darryl Earl David. pg 24