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Myrtle Rigg Memorial Church
Bonnievale, Western Cape

Type:Anglican Church


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33°55'57.31" S 20°05'53.40" E Alt: 142m

The only church in the world ever built at the request of a child! This Memorial Church was built on the deathbed request of 7 year old Mary Myrtle Rigg in 1921 in Bonnievale. Mary was the third born daughter of Christopher and Lilian Rigg. The couple's first two daughters both died before their first birthdays. Mary Myrtle Rigg was born in 1903 and grew up a strongly religious child. As a child she enjoyed playing in Lucerne field which was close to their family home. In 1911 Mary contracted meningitis and before she died, while lying on her deathbed, she asked her father to build her a church. Lucerne field became a family burial site and in 1921 the Cornerstone of the small Norman-styled church was placed.

Christopher Rigg quarried stone from a hill 100m away from the site to build the church, he laid a marble floor which was imported from Italy, stained glass windows from England, the stone and cement dome shaped roof was covered with lead to prevent leaking, he brought the main door back with him from a trip to Zanzibar, and the side doors and furniture came from Knysna. There is no question about his sincerity and devotion to his daughter's dying wish. The first Anglican service to be held in the building was in 1924.

The Bonnievale municipality had the building restored in 1977 and is currently applying to have the building declared a national monument.

(wheretostay, accessed 2023 12 08)