NEWSLETTER – in lieu of March, April & May Talks or Outings

With the disruptions to our lives as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown regulations, life as we knew it seems to have become but a memory, with an uncertainty as to when we will return to something resembling normality.
With the impossibility of having talks and outings at present we will endeavour to keep you up to date with vernacular news!
This will follow on a regular basis as threats to our vernacular heritage continue and they continue to deteriorate if not looked after.
André van Graan writes that he is particularly indebted to Pat Kramer and Antonia Malan who put together this newsletter.

In March 2020, pre lockdown, Antonia Malan, Alex Dodge and Andre van Graan went on a recce to check out the Saron mission station. 
They stopped off in Hermon to see if they could find any sign of the mission there, but nothing appears to remain. They visited the Hotel with its quirky, very old bar, but which refused to entertain the Vernacs on a Saturday as that was their “busy time”.
So on to Saron, where Alex had already made a connection on a previous visit.
The old house, the former parsonage, is fantastic, still in an original state, but badly in need of repair. It is used as a community centre for the aged, with crafts room, a dining room and I believe a few oldies actually live on the premises. Everyone was friendly and the head of the centre bemoaned the fact that they could not get funding to fix the cracks.
They subsequently sent pictures to Dirkie Neethling who replied that he and Barry Anderson had visited Saron while working on their cedar wood project. Dirkie had found three or four identical muurkaste in farmhouses in the Tulbagh area. All made by the same craftsman. The workmanship and materials was of the highest quality. The Pastorie is a jewel, but in danger.
The Pastorie is the original farmhouse on De Leewenklip and was probably built by the owner in 1774, Jan De Waal. It was taken over by the Rhenish Mission in 1846. The church was built in 1851 and there is also the old school, the store and the remains of an old mill.
The day was blistering hot and they decided that a visit by the Vernacs should take place when it was cooler – maybe May. Hopefully May 2121?

Those of you who attended the outing to Mount Prospect in Constantia will remember Antonia’s description of the long battles between owners and Heritage Western Cape and other interested parties.
The latest news is that the developer has withdrawn from the project and Mount Prospect is back on the market for R80 million. Any takers??

In November 2019 Nigel Amschwand led a team of Vernacs to measure up the old langhuis at Soutkloof (orignally Woesteheuwel).
The Vernacs visited this farm on our day trip to Hopefield. It has been purchased by Jasper Smit who welcomed us on that occasion and once again was very welcoming to Nigel and his team.
The building is riddled with termites so this was a timely intervention on our part.
The project is being written up and will be published in the Vassa Journal later in the year. See July newsletter.

”I led an outing for the Vernacs 2 years ago which went to Malmesbury. We went to a farm ONGEGUND where the almost intact remains of one of the early outpost forts remain. A number of members took pictures.
Do you thing that you could ask if there are any of the fort and could they send them on to me?”
Len Raymond’s email address is:

Antonia Malan writes:
For those who are following the Two Rivers Urban Park / River Club saga, the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports Appeals Tribunal finally decided that Heritage Western Cape was within its rights, and procedurally correct, to declare a Provisional Protection under section 29 of the NHRA, while further investigations were carried out. This two year protection lapsed a couple of days after the ruling!
However, it does give confidence to HWC to stick to its guns when pressured by developers and other government sectors (Environment, Public Works, City of Cape Town).
Meanwhile, the River Club development proposal carries on in terms of NEMA (Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning), whereby HWC gets to make a ‘comment’ under section 38 of the NHRA, but DEADP makes the decisions.
Here is a good summary.
The most recent, and very interesting attempt to integrate the First Nation and ‘intangible’ heritage issues into heritage assessment is in Cindy Postlethwayt’s “Two Rivers Final Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Phase 1 report”, of March 2020. This HIA is currently under consideration and public input. Have Your Say?

Pat Kramer, Nigel Amschwand and Antonia Malan travelled to Richmond last October to attend the Richmond Book Fair for independent publishers.
– Pat took her book “Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
– Nigel took his book “1847
– Antonia took the VASSA Grootzeekoegat publication on Johannes Meintjies as well as her book “Grave Encounters”.
All were well received and an enjoyable few days was spent listening to authors present their books and exploring the vernacular architecture of surrounding towns.
Perhaps in future we could have a lecture on the architecture of Richmond, Hanover and the British hospital site at Deelfontein during the Boer War, or South African War, as it is now known.
Nigel has just reprinted ”1847” and Pat’s corbelled buildings book is nearly sold out.
If you are interested in acquiring any of them, make direct contact with the authors:

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