Nederduitse Hervormde Kerk
G GUDE: Contractor
Before starting with this project, the only knowledge that the writer had of her great grandfather, W.P. DIEPRAAM, was the article in the 'Hervormer', on the founding of Dullstroom. The Hervormer is the newspaper of the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk, but the article was written much later, not during his lifetime.
He can be traced to her father's side. One of W.P. Diepraam's daughters from his second marriage to Catharina Jacoba Joubert, is her grandmother, Rina Diepraam. She married Piet Bezuidenhout and together they had nine children. The second eldest of their children, is her father Pieter BEZUIDENHOUT. He then Married Rina Muller and the writer is the youngest of their two children.
As the writer really did not know much about W.P. Diepraam, except for the fact that he was an architect and was possibly responsible for the old stone church in Dullstroom, she wished to research the history of the church, as well as that of W.P. Diepraam, the man.
The Reformed Church in Dullstroom
On the 2nd of November 1887 the congregation of Groot Suikerboskop was founded. On the occasion they decided that when circumstances were ideal they would proceed with the construction of the church building. As mentioned earlier, the building of the Dutch Reformed Church commenced in 1891, with Mr. W.P. DIEPRAAM as the architect and Mr. G. GUDE as the contractor. On the 16th of May 1891 a building contract was signed by J.P. Kotze as builder (Hoevers 2006:29 has him as co-architect) where he asks permission to build the church with stone. He said that due to the flood of rain and a lack of black labourers the making of bricks would be difficult. On the 9th of January 1892, the corner-stone was laid by the elder, C.J.J. Joubert and the inauguration of the church was held in 1893. In the church archive, the register of those baptised in the church, dates from the 1895 with the first being Ewout Cornelis Hofland, baptised on the 3rd of April 1895. During the war it was hidden underneath corrugated iron next to the church.
During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) Dullstroom was sacked twice by the British forces under the Scorched-Earth policy. This was done to prevent the Boer women and children of providing supplies to the Boere kommando's such as food, ammunition and shelter. These dreadful acts in Dullstroom, happened on the 16th of November 1900 when the town was partly destroyed and then again on the 18th of April 1901, when the whole town, including the church was burnt to the ground.
The first of these farm and town burning expeditions where carried out by Canadian mounted troopers and artillerymen under the British General Smith-Dorrien on 16 November 1900.
An account in the book of Canadian LT. Edward W.B. Morrison, "With the Guns" said: "Nobody who was there will ever forget that day's work. There was nobody in the town (Dullstroom) but women and children... Amid the row of cannonade and the crackle of riflefire, the sacking of the place began... on the steps of the church were huddled a group of women and children. Their faces were white and their eyes blazed..."
"It was a sad sight to see the little homes burning and the pretty flowers shrivelling up in the pretty gardens, and the sad groups of women and children huddling among the ruins as we rode away."
On the 18th of April 1901 the church building was totally destroyed. This was not achieved without any resistance as a story in Dullstroom tells of the British having to shoot a horse in the church in an attempt to get the women and children out of the building. They left the horse to rot in the hope that the smell would drive them out.
The destruction of the church was captured in a painting made by the well known Emily Hobhouse, of which a replica hangs in the church itself.
After the war from 1903 to 1908, the Boer people fell into a great depression. But the hardships did not prevent them from rebuilding the church. In 1905 it was eventually rebuilt and inaugurated. (See 1905 Church)
The archive of the Nederduits Hervormde Kerk in Pretoria, who provided me with a file on the church, that contained documents and photographs of the church during throughout the course of its history.
Mrs. Johanna Janson whose family also played an important part in the history of Dullstroom, who accompanied me to the church.
Gerda Whitehorn from Dullstroom Accomodation, who provided me with information.
(Lorinda BEZUIDENHOUT, 2005
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.
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