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History celebrated with architecture tour

A special tour through the streets of Worcester was held for the Vernacular Society of South Africa.

The tour was hosted by councillor Julian Kritzinger, Mayoral Committee Member for Local Economic Development, Tourism, Arts and Culture.

Kritzinger is also an honorary member of the Society. During the walk, he recounted the history of each building and historic spot, when it was built, by whom, and who were the families that stayed in these houses over the years.

Also highlighted were the famous historical figures who had a connection to these historical houses.

The tour programme visited 28 historical houses and included such highlights as the vernacular style De Vrieshuis of 1840 in Russell Street, where the mother of former Prime Minister Jan Smuts, Cato de Vries was born in 1847; the history of the Cape Dutch Victorianised tuishuis of 1820 of the farm Tweefontein on the corner of Trappes and Church Street which served as the very first church building of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1820, before the current Dutch Reformed church building on Church Square was erected in 1830.

The group also visited the Dutch Reformed Church on Church Square, where Kritzinger recounted the history of the famous pulpit that his great-great-great-great grandfather, Heemraad Wouter de Vos of the farm Buffelskraal in the Hex River Valley, had made single-handedly and donated to the Church in 1830.

The pulpit is based on examples of the pulpits of the different congregations in the Netherlands.

It also included a tour of the historic Cape Georgian Drostdy building of 1820 at the top of High Street, as well as the historic Cape Dutch farm complex of Roodewal at Kleinplasie which was built by Pieter du Toit d’Oude in c.1740.

The history of Galgeheuwel or Gallows Hill was also recounted by Kritzinger, and the place where the old gallow stood from 1820 to 1880, according to his research, was also pointed out.

The place where executed prisoners were buried was pointed out, even though it today sadly no longer exists and was demolished as recently as the 1980’s.

The Old Gaol or Prison in Distillery Road was also visited; interestingly enough the Old Gaol was originally the old wine cellar of the farm ‘Langerug-gelegen-aan-het-Breede-Revier’, which Kritzinger’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Gerrit Cloete, the initial owner of the Langerug farm, had built in 1760. Gerrit Cloete was an uncle of Hendrik Coete of Groot-Constantia.

The same group visited the Worcester area last year to go and learn about the history of the farms at Nuy, Overhex, Nonna and De Wet and as such the tour this year also had a focus on the corresponding tuishuise that these farms had in Worcester, which was interesting as both farmhouse and tuishuis in most instances were constructed by the same builder and thus display corresponding styles and characteristics.

Although not quite historic, the tour concluded at the house in which the Nobel Laureate for Literature of 2003, JM Coetzee, grew up in and which he wrote about in his book, ‘Boyhood’. Places where famous descriptions in the book occurred, were also pointed out.

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