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Oefeningshuis - Meeting House
Swellendam, Western Cape

Style:Cape Dutch
Street:36 Voortrek Street


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34°01'09.60" S 20°26'43.09" E Alt: 138m

Built by a committee of directors, formed of Swellendam citizens, with Dr William Robertson, the predikant, as their chairman, for the purpose of instructing people and converting them to Christianity. It was finished in 1838. It was, of course, a church, but regulations forbade its being termed thus. Hence the word Oefeningshuis (in which 'godsdienstoefeningen' were held). It is a rectangular building standing alongside the main street, slightly obliquely (for a long time, there was no clear building line in the street). Its thatch roof is contained between holbol end-gables of an interesting design. Their semicircular caps are part of a full circle, the one at the end with an imitation clock face set in the wall; clearly this was a way of showing unlettered people the time of service - when the two hands of the real clock coincided with those of the plaster clock. The clock is in itself a rarity, being one of a small number imported and sold by F Waldek, a Cape silversmith who worked in the 1830s and '40s. Some of the original windows, with semicircular heads, have been removed. The building is currently [2021] a charity shop for the local hospice.

These notes were last edited on 2021 03 10

Writings about this entry

De Bosdari, C. 1953. Cape Dutch Houses and Farms, their architecture and history. Cape Town / Amsterdam: AA Balkema. pg 99
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 457
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 110-111 ill