Church Square, Cape Town





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Post date: 07/08/2012
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History: While he was still occupied with the building of his fort, Jan van Riebeeck started to lay out a garden between the fort and the Fresh River(see sketch Plan- p.13). As time went on, the garden was extended in the direction of the mountain and the present Botanical Garden is a remnant of it. Consequently it is in this vicinity that we find the most important old, historical places such as Church Square, the Groote Kerk with its fine pulpit carved by Anreith, the old Supreme Court and the Avenue.
Church Square, one of the three squares round which Cape Town developed (see Greenmarket Square and Riebeeck Square) must have started to take shape in 1679 when the first public building, the old Slave Lodge, now known as the Old Supreme Court, was built to the south of it. In 1701 its western side was defined by the building of the Dutch Reformed Church. Next to the Church, opposite the slave lodge, was a graveyard. Because of its proximity to the Church, the square became known as Church Square, and the present Lower Parliament Street that forms a link between Darling Street (formerly Keisersgracht) and the square, as “Graave” or Grave Street. At a later stage the eastern side of the square was closed off by a spinning factory, which explains why the extension of Bureau Street, which leads from Adderley Street across Church Square, became known as Spin Street.
Situated as it was, adjacent to the slave lodge, the square in fact served as the site of the slave markets. Tradition has it that slaves were sold under a giant pine tree, the precise situation of which is marked by a plaque on a traffic island in Spin Street.
A statue of the well-known political figure, Onze Jan Hofmeyr, has been erected in the centre of the square.
Proclaimed 1961
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Catalogue: Rennie, Vol 2, No: 066.37, Significance Category:


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