The Roodezand Church, the Old Church of Tulbagh, was built in 1743, one of the four early churches in the Cape Province, the others being in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and Paarl (Drakenstein). The first minister was the Rev Arnoldus Mauritius Meiring. The date on the gable is later, but perhaps means the gable was added at this later date, when houses were also being embellished with elaborate gables. The Lion of Judah looks down on us, paws to the front! This is the only church remaining of the original four and is in more or less in its original form.
By 1878 the Church was too small for the increasing population of Tulbagh and was used as a schoolroom, a concert hall, and then by English troops in the Anglo-Boer War. It was referred to as ‘Die Oude Kerk’ and became very delapidated before restoration work in 1914 and 1923. Lady Meiring Beck had decided the building should be preserved and in 1925 it was converted to a museum. Surprisingly there was only minor damage during the disastrous earthquake of 1969. (Lady Beck lived in the Old Drostdy.)
The Church is built in a simple cross shape and has a peaceful atmosphere.
The pulpit is built of beefwood and stinkwood and it may be the oldest in South Africa. The canopy acts as a loudspeaker!
The slave bell was rung every day at 12.00, dinnertime for the slaves.
The church is surrounded by a wall, built in 1795, to keep the cattle out of the graveyard. I was reminded of the Parish Enclosures in Brittany where the walls served the same purpose… The graveyard has been restored by the amazingly dedicated group of people who look after the buildings. They are passionate about what they do and know the history of the site inside out. Do stop and chat to them.
And now we need to walk down Church Street…