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Metropolitan Methodist Church
Central Cape Town, Western Cape

Charles AS FREEMAN: Architect

Type:Methodist Church


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33°55'22.26" S 18°25'10.75" E

The second-oldest remaining building facing Greenmarket Square is the Wesleyan or Methodist Church of which the foundation stone was laid in 1876. The architect of what was long considered the finest church in the Colony was Charles Freeman. He produced a masterpiece of high-Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, adhering closely to his source of inspiration. It is a basilica type of church, with the lean-to roof of the aisles broken by a series of gabled transverse roofs. A tower with a tall spire stands on the corner, beside the nave at the head of the aisle. The building has fine dressed shale walls, its plinth in granite, and an interior of great beauty with its high timbered roof and a gallery supported by cast-iron columns. Its Gothic Revival sculptured stonework is equalled only by that of the Oudtshoorn DR Church.

(Fransen 2004:41)

This is the only example built in Cape Town of a full-blown high Victorian Town Church. It was considered the finest Church in the Cape Colony in the late 19th century. On the same site there had existed the Free Church of Scotland built c1848 but never used as such. It became Landsberg's Store in 1850 and was burnt down c1874. The present Church was started in 1876 and completed in 1879. The architect was C Freeman and the builder T J C Inglesby. The initial contract sum was 9 500 English pounds but it cost much more by completion, reputedly 13 000 English pounds.

(Rennie 1978:144)

Rev. Barnabas Shaw, pioneer Wesleyan Methodist missionary to South Africa, who after his arrival in Cape Town on 14 April 1816, established South Africa's first Wesleyan Methodist mission station at Leliefontein in Namaqualand.

Rev. Barnabas and his wife, Jane, were buried in the Somerset Road Cemetery, Cape Town. After the closure of this cemetery, the gravestone was removed and placed inside the Metropolitan Methodist Church. (See photograph right).

The Central Methodist Mission website gives a brief history of the church.

See also the Metropolitan Hall which also housed the church offices.

(SAB Dec 1932:11; SALQB Dec 1967:58)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books that reference Metropolitan Methodist Church

Cole, DI. 2002. The building stones of Cape Town : a geological walking tour. Cape Town: Council for Geoscience. pg 61-64
Duncan, Paul & Proust, Alain. 2013. Hidden Cape Town. Cape Town: Random House Struik. pg 226-231
Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pg 41
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 99
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 270
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 52, 53, 90, 149
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 20
Radford, D. 1979. The architecture of the Western Cape, 1838-1901. A study of the impact of Victorian aesthetics and technology on South African architecture. Johannesburg: Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Dept of Arch. University of the Witwatersrand. pg 115
Rennie, John for CPIA. 1978. The Buildings of Central Cape Town 1978. Volume Two : Catalogue. Cape Town: Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. pg 144 item 56.11
Shorten, John R. 1963. Cape Town : A record of the Mother City from the earliest days to the present. Cape Town: JR Shorten in association with Shorten and Smith Publications. pg 193 ill.
Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pg 20-21