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Richmond House - Cock's Castle
Port Alfred, Eastern Cape

Style:Gothic Revival : Georgian
Status:Demolished 2002


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33°35'56.24" S 26°53'29.82" E

When the British established their might in far-flung places, those who made their fortunes in the process often had a taste for building eccentric homes for themselves.

Richmond House, better known as Cock's Castle, is no exception. During the 1840s William Cock had been involved in the redevelopment of Port Frances at the mouth of the Kowie River (renamed Port Alfred in I860), which had hitherto failed as an outlet for the 1820 Settlers' produce. This venture brought prosperity to both the area and to Cock, who proceeded to build himself a fine house.

Richmond House is a riot of Gothic Revival splendour, though still proportioned in the Georgian manner, with the woodwork of the doors and windows finely detailed. And having built his house during troubled times on the Frontier, Cock installed a cannon on the reinforced flat roof, above the crenellated parapets of his 'castle', giving credibility to its fortified aspect.

(Picton-Seymour, 1989: 108-9)

The house was demolished in 2002 and replaced by a Cape Dutch Revival mansion.

Writings about this entry

Lewcock, Ronald. 1963. Early Nineteenth Century Architecture in South Africa : a study of the interaction of two cultures, 1795-1837. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 292
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 108-109