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 Gray, a remarkable woman, and consecrated by her husband, Bishop Robert Gray, the first Anglican Bishop in South Africa.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Bishop Robert Gray
Commandant Johannes Lotter & his rebels
The monument to Johannes Lotter
Graaff Reinet in the Anglo-Boer War
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