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St George's Anglican Church
White River, Mpumalanga

Francis (Frank) Leonard Hodgson FLEMING: Architect

Type:Anglican Church


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25°19'18.41" S 31°02'23.62" E Alt: 885m

A committee was formed to gather sufficient funds to build the Anglican church in White River, consisting of Colonel Ross, Percy Cazalet, Mr Nitch, Mr Merriman, Helen Turner and Colonel Cox. The White River Estates donated the land, which was planted with 500 citrus trees. The architect, a Mr FLEMING, was a pupil, and later partner, of Sir Herbert BAKER, and decided on dressed stone for the building medium. A skilled stonemason, Mr Allardyce, was employed. He had worked on some fine Johannesburg homes before tackling the little church. Granite blocks were quarried from the Campbell Ross farm opposite the present church, while the stone facing of the vestry, which was built in 1956 with funds donated by Mrs Nitch, came from Noel Cazalet's farm, Telezac. Mr Allardyce himself found the lovely large stone for the font. He had spotted it in the bed of the White River which runs below the church, on an afternoon ramble. He would not rest until he had erected it in the church as he was worried that somebody else would recognise its potential and use it for a garden birdbath. Judging by the weight of this large block of granite, that would seem to have been unlikely, and it must have been a labour of love to raise it from its watery bed and cart it to the church. Once the little building was completed, there were no funds left for the pews, and for some months the parishioners practiced humility on the hard paraffin boxes which were already so much a part of their lives.

Dixie Goodwin and Mr Nitch and later, Hugh Mason were the church organists, while Helen Turner and Myra Andrews always saw to it that the altar was dressed with fresh flowers. Percy Cazalet made himself responsible for the gardens, later followed by his daughter-in-law, Molly, Joan Forsyth and my mother. Soon there were weddings, christenings and funerals in the cool, stone building conducted by the vicar of Nelspruit, who took services at St Christophers in Plaston as well.

The church is offset by a pair of imposing wrought iron gates, and these were a gift from Bunny Bains in memory of his parents. They have an interesting history. Sir George Albu, who was Director of General Mining and Finance Corporation in Johannesburg in 1903, used to commute in a pony trap between his home on Parktown Ridge and his office in the city. Ponies and trap were stabled in a small backyard near his office, behind these impressive iron gates made to order in England. When the office was demolished, Bunny purchased the gates and donated them to St George's Church, where they can be admired to this day.

[Nevill, Claire. White River Remembered. White River: Louis van der Merwe, White River Museum, Casterbridge. pp, 104-5.]

Books that reference St George's Anglican Church

Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2012. A Platteland Pilgrimage : 102 country churches of South Africa . South Africa: Booktown Richmond Press. pg 67