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House Savage - now Ann Bryant Art Gallery
Belgravia, East London, Eastern Cape

Ernest David William BOWEN: Contractor

Client:Arthur Savage


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33°00'01.33" S 27°53'50.56" E Alt: 97m

The contractor E.D.W. BOWEN built this impressive Victorian style house and coach house for Mr. Arthur Savage in 1905. The property at this time comprised four adjacent lots (Lots 1, 2, 5 and 6), which formed the western half of Town Block F3, in the up market residential suburb of Belgravia. Town Block F3 comprised a total of eight separate Lots and was bounded by St Lukes Rd to the south, to the west by Belgravia Rd, to the north by St Marks Rd and to the east by Oxford Road.

The house and stables were sited at the northern end of the four lots with the house facing south, towards the sea view. The main entrance into the property and formal approach to the house was from St Lukes Rd., through a fine pair of wrought iron gates supported on ornate plastered gateposts. The architect of the building has not currently been identified, but was clearly of some stature due to the fine proportions, architectural massing and detailing.

In 1907 Mr. Edmund A. Bryant, of the firm Gibberd & Bryant, bought the property, and called it ‘The Gables’. Bryant ultimately purchased Lots 3, 4, 7 and 8, thereby extended the site to the east to encompass the whole block. His wife Ann was one of five daughters of Major Joseph Leatherland of the Cape Mounted Riflemen and was born in 1862. She married Bryant in King William’s Town and the couple had six children.

The Bryant’s were interested in art and built up a private collection mainly of paintings by British and European artists of the 18th century 19th centuries. Her husband Edmund Bryant left the house and garden to her when he died on 24th November 1928 at the age of 77 years. She in turn left the house and her collection of pictures, to the City of East London to be used as an art gallery when she died on 16th September 1946, at the age of 84 years. The bequest only included the original four Lots, but the Municipality fortunately purchased the remaining four Lots to conserve the extent of the gardens.

Various minor alterations were then made to the house internally – principally to the First Floor layout - to facilitate its use as an art gallery. The gallery was opened officially to the public on 6 February 1948 and is now known as the Ann Bryant Art Gallery. The current policy of the gallery is to concentrate on South African artists.

[Text based on handout provided by Ann Bryant Gallery, edited and extended by William MARTINSON]

Visit the website of the gallery.

Books that reference House Savage - now Ann Bryant Art Gallery

Fransen, Hans. 1978. Guide to the Museums of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales (Pty) Ltd, for the Southern African Museums Association. pg 44-45
Gaylard, Shaun & McDougall, Brett . 2022. RSA 365 : 365 Drawings of South African Architecture. Johannesburg: Blank Ink Design. pg 101, 101 ill
Watson, Jeremy. 1989. The Urban Trail : a walk through the urban heritage of East London Central Business District and Older Suburbs. East London: Heritage Committee ISAA and B-KIA. pg 128