TOPIC:           What influenced the historical Cape farm “werf”?
SPEAKER:     Dr Gwen Fagan
DATE:            Tuesday, 20 November 2012
TIME:             20h00
VENUE:         The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Rds.

Dr Gwen Fagan will talk about the influences that determined the layout of the historical farm “werf” at the Cape, which includes the Eastern, European and local factors.
She will illustrate the talk with examples of “werwe” from the 17th to the 19th century.

Gwen studied medicine at the Universityof Cape Town(MB.CH.B. 1948) and worked as a medical practitioner until 1969.
Afterwards she joined her husband’s firm, Gabriël Fagan Architects, as a historical researcher and landscape planner. In 1995 she did her PhD at the University of Cape Town: An Introduction to the man-made landscape at the Cape from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Some recent academic activities include the research into early Cape defences, with particular reference to the Chavonnes Battery that forms part of an exhibit for the Batteryruins and for the ruin reconstruction, a publication on the work of GT Fagan and a publication of her thesis on the man-made landscape 1652 – 1900.

She has received numerous awards and honours:
A Gold Medal with GT Fagan from the National Monuments Council for the research & restoration work inChurch Streetand the Drostdy in Tulbagh.
The Cape Tercentenary Award for historical research and historical landscape restoration.
A Gold medal from the Simon van der Stel Foundation for her contribution to the conservation of South Africa’s historic gardens and architecture.
The Zoë Gilbert Award for her pioneering research on historic rose varieties from the Federation of Rose Societies of South Africa (and also has a rose named after her).
In 1993 she received a Honorary Doctorate: D.Phil (HC) from the University of Stellenbosch.

She has co-authored several major publications with Gawie, who was a former VASSA chairman.
(See VASSA’s Special Edition in celebration of Gawie’s 80th Birthday in 2005)

“Church Street in the Land of Waveren”,
(Kerkstraat in’t Land van Waveren), 1975
Roses at the Cape of Good Hope”, 1988 – 2011
Nauti se Gwendoline“, 1999 (Afrikaans biography of her childhood)
Elsenburg – a chapter on the history and architecture of the 18th Century farm complex
Dr Gwen Fagan is a renowned international speaker and a widely respected historical landscape designer.


Remember last month’s announcement about a project at the Lutheran Church in Strand St to catalogue the archives, architecture and objects in the church?

Well – project manager Sally Titlestad was reported in the Cape Towner dated Oct 25 to have opened a treasure chest of information after discovering records in a vault.
She said few people were aware of a little door in the vestry where they found a series of volumes dating back to 1743 that had never been accessed before, which are ”extraordinary records of Cape Towns social history” that unlock hidden treasures found in the church’s records of its baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Historical archaeologist Dr Antonia Malan is part of the team working on these precious documents.

A workshop was held recently for those interested in learning more about the project and this extraordinary ”living history”.
If you want to find out more, call 079 816 0205, email or visit