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St Mary's
Arnoldton, East London, Eastern Cape

Type:Anglican Church


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32°57'54.64" S 27°47'29.11" E Alt: 231m

Arnoldton is a railway halt near Wilsonia and Mdantsane. This church is very similar to Christ Church, Amalinda 1935. It is still [2015] in use by informal church groups. (William MARTINSON)

A transcription of the foundation stone - situated on the north face of the apse - of St. Mary's church is recorded below:

19 AUGUST 1933
J.B.M.G     J.W.A.

The initials J.B.M.G are those of John Bryan Madden Grimes, Rector of St. John's Anglican church in East London. The persons represented by the two other sets of initials have not yet been identified.

Various contemporary publications record the details of the dedication ceremony and certain details regarding the completion of the church. The text from these publications have been transcribed verbatim below:


On Saturday, November 18 (1933), the Bishop dedicated the little church which has been built at Arnoldton, which is in the parish of St John, East London. It is small, but big enough to meet the present requirements, and every effort has been made to make it worthy of its object in accordance with the means for disposal. The east window will be a representation of the Madonna and Child, by the South African artist, Mr Groves, of Cape Town. This was felt to be suitable to the dedication of the church. The communion rails will be of carved teak, the work being done by Mr Johnson, who has done so much of the carved work in the parish church. The Cross of brass, from Messrs Wippel & Co., Exeter, is being presented by some friends of St John's Church. The altar is that which used to be in the parish church, as also the frontal. Fortunately the altar fits perfectly, and so there will be no need to alter the frontals. The seating accommodation will be of oak, and is being made by Messrs Johnson Bros., Stephen Street. (The foregoing particulars are taken from The Witness.)

Ref: The News-letter, December 1933, pg 231.


A meeting of the congregation of St. Mary's, Arnoldton, was held Thursday, January 25th (1934), in the church at 4 p.m. In spite of heavy rain there was a good attendance. Mr. Spencely, the hon. treasurer, read the financial statement of the building fund. This showed that when the contractor's account had been met, there would be a deficit of GBP33 on the furnishing fund. This has been very kindly lent by a friend without interest, so that the contractor and the furnisher will be paid off, the former on receipt of the final approval of the architect. It has been decided to hold a produce sale the first Saturday in April at Amalinda Park, by which it is hoped that the remaining GBP33 will be cleared off and the church and all pertaining to it be free from debt. We are sure that parishioners of St. John's will do their best to support this effort. The Rector said that St. Mary's, Arnoldton had been blessed with many kind friends who provided for its requirements, and moved that expressions of appreciation should be sent to the various donors from that meeting, amongst these being the Rev. H. Steele-Wood, the Rev. R. G. Jelly, the Rev. C. C. Hill, St John's Church, St Alban's Church, Mrs. Bartlett, Mrs. Francis, Mrs. Grant, Mr. Lane, Mr. Arnold and Mr. Johnstone. A telegram had been received that morning from Mr. Groves regretting delay about the window and saying that it would be ready soon. It was decided not to have guarantees at present, but to go on as had been done in the past, which had been found quite satisfactory. A certain percentage, however, should be retained for cleaning, etc., of the church. Mr. Gilfillan was elected chapel-warden and Mr. Spencely sidesman.

Ref: The Witness, February 1934, pg 3.


The East Window. At last this has arrived. It is a very fine piece of work, both in design and colouring, worth while waiting for. It was unveiled by Mrs. Bartlett and dedicated by the Rector, April 8th (1934).

Ref: The Witness, May 1934, pg 4.

Scanned copies of three above documents provided by Liz de Wet of the Cory Library, Rhodes University. Submitted by William MARTINSON.

Transcription of dedication on stained glass window:

and in memory of

John ARNOLD was born in Belfast 17 Apr 1825 and died in East London on 27 Aug 1905. He married Susanna Elizabeth FISHER, born in Yarmouth on 10 Nov 1827 and died in East London 3 Aug 1901. The couple had 11 children of whom the youngest was James Weston, born 23 June 1871 (died 19 Aug 1957).

Information on the Arnold's provided by Carl Vernon, East London, March 2016.