Friday, August 12, 2016

A visit to Tulbagh - The houses, museums and gardens of Church Street

On Tuesday, we at last managed to book this historic tour. You meet at the church that gives Kerk Straat its name. Built for the population after the arrival of the Rev. Arnoldus Mauritius Meiring in 1743, it turned a sleepy hollow into a town. The minister had the presence of mind to sell off land in Church Street to wealthy people and soon a vibrant community was in occupation, attracting business and people to the town. In 1969, Tulbagh suffered a devastating earthquake (6.3 on the Richter scale) which destroyed many of the houses and seriously damaged others. Thanks to the Fagan brothers, architects and builders, much of this was restored and Church Street is now the jewel of the town. You can walk the length of the street with a guide and hear the history of the town
The church is now a museum filled with interesting antiques
One of our guides, Henrilene Links, who works for the tourist board
Jason Clark, who owns an accommodation establishment in the street, is the main guide and is training Henrilene to take some of the pressure off himself
The scallop and frog gable
Peaceful Church Street
It's a lovely gentle walk of about an hour and a half, learning about the street and Tulbagh
A sleepy local bandit, one of the Readers Restaurant cats
A view of the mountains behind Tulbagh. So many of these houses were damaged or destroyed. It is a triumph of reconstruction
Looking back towards the church
Many of the houses are museums, some are privately owned, some are bed and breakfasts, this is a health clinic
The house that was the famous Paddagang restaurant. It is now a Belgian café
A beautiful example of Cape Dutch gabled architecture
This is a museum
Some are restaurants
In the middle of the road, there is now an organic kitchen garden project which is open to the public to come and pick their own vegetables. Much of this produce currently goes to the Neighbourhood market in the Waterfront, held every Saturday. Jason was so inspired by the gardens at Babylonstoren wine farm that he started this for the people of Tulbagh. We went back the following day and picked ourselves a bunch of asparagus, which we had for supper on Thursday night. It was superb and the prices are very good
Readers restaurant sponsors their own patch
Jason runs this Guest House, which is opposite the house in which he lives when he is in Tulbagh
The hillside was covered in carpets of white spring daisies
The garden is laid out in a geometric pattern and they have lots of plans to expand and plant different crops
Inside one of the historic houses is a colourful shop selling local handicrafts
This historic very early photograph, taken in the 1860s, shows what the town looked like in the mid 19th Century. It was used to reconstruct the buildings damaged or destroyed in the 1969 earthquake
Several of the houses are now museums which you can visit. Sadly, they were closed when we did our walk on the public holiday. We returned on Wednesday morning but, other than the Tourist board offices, most were still closed. We did have a very quick tour of the old church
The interior of the church, still with its pulpit and choir stalls can be used for weddings and other functions
The curator of the Church, Annelien Fredericks, kindly showed us around and played this Symphonium for us. They have many extra discs for more tunes
There is some magnificent old Cape Dutch furniture
And a very old interesting map of the Cape in the 18th century
A beautiful drum table, on which Governor Sir Lord Charles Somerset signed the document declaring the Cape a British colony in 1805
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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