Museums, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens

ID #5014

Reinet House, Graaff-Reinet, Karoo, Eastern Cape.

Completed in 1814, it served as a “pastorie” (parsonage) for the Dutch Reformed Church for almost 100 years.  The ground was granted by the Governor of the Cape and mason Johan Brummer built it with the help of the congregation.  The walls are 900-mm thick and it has yellowwwod floors and ceilings. Some of the basement walls were made with stone quarried in nearby Adendorp.  Members of the congregation had to travel several hundred kilometres in ox wagons, a journey that took two months, to fetch the yellowwood and stinkwood from the Knysna forests.  It took two years to complete the building.

In 1886, the roof needed re-thatching. The first consignments of corrugated iron began to arrive and a new roof and gutters were installed after some of the gables had been removed and the pitch lowered. After the death of Reverend Charles Murray in 1904 it fell into disuse and the front gable disappeared.  Fortunately the National Monuments Commission interceded and engaged the architect Norman Eaton to undertake restoration work in 1952.  The Graaff-Reinet Publicity Association bought the building from the church in 1947 and it opened as a museum in 1956.

Many world-famous travellers, explorers and missionaries were received at the house during its occupation by the Murrays, including Thomas Pringle, Sir Andries Stockenstroom (whose father had obtained the original grant of land from the Governor), David Livingstone and Robert Moffat.

Disaster struck in 1980 when the rear of the building was destroyed by fire.  Fortunately, locals helped save much of the collection, including stinkwood chairs, a cradle and inlaid tables.  A charred yellowwood beam was left in the kitchen as a reminder.

Graaff-Reinet is on the N9 south of Middelburg, which is at the intersection of the N9 with the N10. ASReinet

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Last update: 2009-08-31 04:19
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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