The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

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.

The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

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.)

Old Church in Tulbagh before restoration (http://www.westgallerychurches.com/southafrica/tulbach/tulbach.html)
Old Church in Tulbagh before restoration (http://www.westgallerychurches.com/southafrica/tulbach/tulbach.html)

The Church is built in a simple cross shape and has a peaceful atmosphere.

The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

The pulpit is built of beefwood and stinkwood and it may be the oldest in South Africa. The canopy acts as a loudspeaker!

Old Cape Dutch furniture in The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh
Old Cape Dutch furniture in The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

The roof, upper gallery, & brass chandelier in The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh

The slave bell was rung every day at 12.00, dinnertime for the slaves.

The slave bell in the old Church, Tulbagh

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.

The wall around the old Church in Tulbagh The wall around the old Church in TulbaghThe walled graveyard of the Old Church in Tulbagh

A tomb in the walled graveyard of The Old Church Museum in Tulbagh The graveyard of the Old Church in Tulbagh

And now we need to walk down Church Street

Further information
The Church at Tulbagh
The Old Church Museum

4 comments

  1. Thank you. I wish I had had more time to look at Wellington, and can thoroughly recommend Bain’s Kloof Pass if you are driving on to Tulbagh. I have one or two more post on Tulbagh still to come and am sure you will enjoy your visit.

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