St James’ Anglican Church, Graaff Reinet

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St James Anglican Church is tucked away in Graaff Reinet and the only church which was open, so in we went! St James the Great dates to 1850 and is the oldest church still in use in Graaff Reinet. The Church was built on a modified design by Sophy Graya remarkable woman, and consecrated by her husband, Bishop Robert Gray, the first Anglican Bishop in South Africa.
St James's Church, Graaff Reinet

During the Anglo-Boer War British troops were stationed in the town and a plaque in the church remembers those in the 9th Lancers and the Cape Mounted Rifles who were killed in the capture of Lotter’s Commando in 1901, in the Battle of Groenkloof. Johannes Lotter was subsequently shot as a rebel by the British, with Pieter Wolfaardt, on October 12 1901, just outside Middelburg; several other members of the Commando were also executed as rebels. Lt Colonel Scobell was the commanding officer – what a dreadful waste of lives, on both sides, in that violent and cruel war.

Lotters Commando escorted into Graaff Reinet by Lt Colonel Scobells men, 1901
Lotter’s Commando escorted into Graaff Reinet by Lt Colonel Scobell’s men, 1901

Johannes Lotter

Gideon Scheepers was another infamous Commando leader in the area and executed by the British in January 1902, while a prisoner of war, for murder. His memorial is just outside Graaff Reinet and his grave remains unknown. He is still remembered as a martyr.

Gideon Scheepers memorial outside Graaff Reinet

I wanted to explore the graveyard associated with the Church, but it was the end of the day and it seemed as though the person in charge wanted to lock up, so I only have a brief impression. I believe there may be war graves in this cemetery.

St James Church graveyard, Graaff ReinetSt James Church graveyard, Graaff Reinet St James Church graveyard, Graaff Reinet

And because it was the end of the day and I needed cheering up we drove along the ‘Mountain Drive’ over looking the town. Just be prepared for some very rough patches!

Further information
Bishop Robert Gray
Sophy Gray
Commandant Johannes Lotter & his rebels
The monument to Johannes Lotter
Graaff Reinet in the Anglo-Boer War


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