Cape Town on Foot: Castle to Slave Lodge

    Ursula profile
    05 Sep 2016
    Clock 30min      Length1mi
    9 ratings

    Church Square

    Pay wave

    Stop here. This is Church Square which, if stories are to be believed, was once a popular meeting place for dogs. They plagued the faithful and from 1730 to 1753 an official dog whipper was engaged to keep man’s best friend out of the church and off the square.

    The statue of "Onze" Jan Hofmeyr, which means "Our" Jan, was created by Anton van Wouw.

    Jan Hofmeyr was an influential politician and newspaper editor in the closing years of the 19th century. This period witnessed a resurgence of Dutch culture. Hofmeyer also founded the Afrikaner Bond, a political association which aimed at bringing together moderate thinking Afrikaners and Englishmen.

    Behind the statue rises the multi-storeyed National Mutual Life Insurance Company of Australasia building. Today it's home to the Social History and Family Research Museum. Two different dates in the right and left hand gables suggest that it was constructed in two stages. The British architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and his colleague Masey, designed the left hand half of the building, in the Cape Dutch Revival style.

    The smaller building to the left was once occupied by the Union Chapel and Mission House where Dr. John Philips of the London Missionary Society lived for some time in the 1820s. And in 1841 you might have run into the explorer David Livingstone at this spot as he spent his first week in Africa here in Mission House, before embarking on his travels of discovery.

    The building was later occupied by the Civil Service Club. It was here, in 1939, that General Smuts met with his followers and decided that the Union of South Africa should declare war on Germany. This decision led to the resignation of Prime Minister General Hertzog, and the appointment of General Smuts as the new head of state.

    A fire destroyed the building in 1979 leaving behind only the colonnaded portion of the old façade, which is still visible today.

    Now, turn so that you're facing the old Australasia building. You need to head across the square, to the far right corner of the building. I'll meet you next to the benches.

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