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Old Congregational Church - Independent Church
Cradock, Eastern Cape

Date:1853 : 1909
Type:Congregational Church
Street:1 High Street

The church was originally built in 1853 and enlarged in 1909.

Declared a national monument on 16 July 1982 vide Government Notice No. 1459, as published in Government Gazette No. 8304.

Concise history

By the time the Reverend Taylor erected the Church in 1853, the town of Cradock, founded in 1814, was already a thriving centre of administration and commerce. Rev. Taylor was a missionary in the employ of the London Mission Society. Information contained in the SAHRA records regarding Rev Taylor seems to be mostly incorrect. One source gives his first name as being Berry, the SAHRA Property Register records his name as having been Robert.

John Taylor (1778-1860) was as matter of fact the man chosen to replace Rev John Evans who had died while ministering to the community at Cradock. This Scotsman is interesting enough remembered as having baptised the later president of the ZAR, Paul Kruger at Cradock in 1826.

On his death in 1860 the Rev John Taylor was buried in the crypt of the Church in which he served. According to a document in the SAHRA registry his wife lies buried there as well. This desktop study could not confirm that Taylor's wife, 'Marianne' lies buried in the crypt as well.

According to the SAHRA files this Gothic-revival styled church is an exact replica of the Harpenden Chapel in England. This cannot be corroborated at present as the Congregational Chapel at Harpenden was demolished. This does however seem unlikely as this Gothic Revival structure forms part of the specific architectural expression of this movement found in the drier parts of South Africa and is a direct result of materials and skill available; a localised vernacular.

The occupants of the Church, The Cradock United Congregational Church were evicted from the structure in 1977 under the Group Areas Act.

The SAHRA Property Register lists the historical importance as being:

This mission church is an exact replica of the Harpenden Chapel in England and was established by Robert Taylor, a missionary from the London Missionary Society. Both he and his wife suffered as a result of extreme poverty and yet were able to not only manage church affairs, but also held school for the congregation.

Robert and Marianne Taylor are buried under the pulpit of the church.

Writings about this entry

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2010. 101 Country Churches of South Africa. South Africa: Booktown Richmond Press. pg 5