King William's Town

King William’s Town was founded by Sir Benjamin D’Urban, governor of the Cape Colony, after the War of Hintsa (1834-1835). The town was established as the capital of the Province Queen Adelaide, stretching between the Kei and Keiskamma Rivers. D’Urban’s scheme did not, however, succeed and the territory was handed back to the Xhosa in 1836.

During the course of the War of the Axe (1846-1847) the town was re-established by the new governor, Sir Harry Smith. From this date King William’s Town slowly grew and prospered as the administrative, military, economic and educational centre of British Kaffraria. The province was incorporated into the Cape Province in 1866.

Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance

Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance
Steve Biko died on 12 September 1977 as a result of police torture and assault in detention. The circumstances resulting in his death still beg complete explanation. He was buried on 17 September in Ginsberg after services were held at the Victoria Grounds in King William’s Town. Biko’s funeral was attended by an estimated 17 000 people. On 12 September 1997, a bust of the fallen hero wa...
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Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge’s, stru

Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge’s, stru
The anti-apartheid activists and human rights lawyers, Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge are buried outside King William’s Town. They were married in 1964 and moved to Durban. Their lives were much affected by frequent bannings, detentions and imprisonment, but they both handled many high-profile and political cases. They were both assassinated by security force hit squads in 1981 and 1985, r...
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King William's Town Churches

King William's Town Churches
Visit many churches, the oldest being the Holy Trinity Church (1850) - Smith Street.
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Grey Monument Hospital (1856)

Grey Monument Hospital (1856)
The National monument was built between 1856 and 1859 for the Xhosa population of British Kaffraria under the able supervision of Dr JP Fitzgerald, Head of the Medical Department of British Kaffraria. Many interesting and ingenious features were included in its construction, such as piped water and a novel ventilation system. The whole was designed to withstand a siege in time of war and in...
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The British Kaffrarian Bank

The British Kaffrarian Bank
Built in 1908, this architecturally interesting and well-preserved building portrays the architecture of the turn of the century. It received National Monument status in 1975.
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Fort Murray

Fort Murray
Originally established at Mount Coke in 1835, it was refounded in the vicinity during 1846-47. The fort’s main function was to guard the King William’s Town/East London road. It is associated with a variety of historical characters, such as Col John Maclean (Chief Commissioner of British Kaffraria), who lived just outside the fort from 1848-1862. Members of the British German Legion...
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Old Military Reserve

Old Military Reserve
Amatola Row, Tel: 043 642 1414. A historical reserve, boasting a cannon presented to the town by Major General Eardley-Wilmot.
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War Memorial

War Memorial
This blue-stone memorial was erected to the memory of the men of the town and district who were killed during the First World War (1914-1918). Plaques were later added to include the area’s victims of the 1939-1945 war. The list includes the names of six members of the South African Native Labour Corps who lost their lives in the SS Mendi disaster in the English Channel in 1917.
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Old Residency

Old Residency
Reserve Road. A former home of Governor Sir Harry Smith built near the original mission station in 1826.
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Queen Victoria Memorial

Queen Victoria Memorial
On Maclean Square. Unveiled in 1899. The four field guns were presented to the town a few years later.
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Missionary Museum

Missionary Museum
Berkeley Street (former Methodist Church) Tel: 043 642 4506. It details the missionary history of the area and of the country.
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The Town Hall

The Town Hall
The foundation stone was laid in 1866 and the building was officially opened the following year. During the Frontier War of 1877-78 it was used as the headquarters of the Civil Defence Force. Large scale alterations were made from 1899 to 1902; and it was officially re-opened in 1904. The impressive sloping stage is a reminder of a bygone era. The Town Hall received National Monument status in ...
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The Amathole Heritage Initiative

The Amathole Heritage Initiative
Heritage routes tracing the history of former Xhosa Chiefs and leaders of the Amathole region - Maqoma, Sandile, Makana and Phalo
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Wesleyan Chapel (Missionary Museum)

Wesleyan Chapel (Missionary Museum)
The neo-Gothic building now housing the Missionary Museum (a satellite of the Amathole Museum) was built in 1855 as a Wesleyan Chapel and was subsequently used by the Baptist congregation. When semi-derelict it was bought by Historical Homes of S.A., restored and converted into a museum in 1973. It was proclaimed a National Monument in 1975. The displays include the Albion press which was u...
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Old Methodist Manse

Old Methodist Manse
This double-storey manse, adjacent to the old Methodist Church, was erected in approximately 1855. The wooden balcony, stretching from one side of the facade to the other, was a later addition. It has been renovated recently to accommodate The Potter’s House, a Christian fellowship. It was declared a National Monument in 1975.
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The Residency

The Residency
It was erected in about 1846 on the spot where the dwelling house of Rev John Brownlee stood after his arrival in 1826 as missionary of the London Missionary Society. The original dwelling was twice gutted by fire. Government House, as it was later known as, accommodated many visitors including governors and Prince Alfred (1860). It served as the residence of successive magistrates and was proc...
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Old Station Building

Old Station Building
This stone building was officially opened as a railway station in 1877. Until the construction of the present station in 1933, trains were required to enter King William's Town in reverse and then exit along the same route to link up with the main line. It has been used as a school and for offices. The entrance originally had a square gable with an inscription "EL & QR". It wa...
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Officer’s House

Officer’s House
This mid-nineteenth century national monument was built by an officer along the lines of a typical English farm house. The house was originally thatched. Aspects of interest are the neo-Gothic windows and the Victorian wooden balcony.
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Old Post Office and Magistrate’s Cour

Old Post Office and Magistrate’s Cour
These public buildings of rubble-stonework were completed in 1877 and accommodated various Government departments. They include an imposing clock tower and memorial to the Rev John Brownlee. The old Post Office section now houses the Xhosa Gallery of the Amathole Museum. It was declared a National Monument in 1980.
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Potter's House

Potter's House
This predominantly neo-Gothic building dates from the 1850's and was used for several decades as the Wesleyan school house, with a bell tower over the front entrance. The first council meeting in King William's Town was held here, due to the fact that it was one of the largest halls in the town at the time. In 1908 the building was converted into a synagogue. It was proclaimed as a Nati...
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The Victorian Drill Hall

The Victorian Drill Hall
This typical Victorian building with its neo-classical features was designed and built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s sixtieth birthday. It still retains its military air and was used by the Amatola Commando until 2007 when the SAPS took over control. The Drill Hall is a proclaimed National Monument.
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Sutton House

Sutton House
The corner-stone of Sutton House was laid by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Bartle-Frere, in 1877. The building was officially opened in December 1878 and is named after the Rev J.G. Sutton, Headmaster of Dale College (1890-1912). It was proclaimed as a National Monument in 1980. In 1996 Sutton House was sold to local developers and now accommodates a shopping centre.
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Old Military Commissariat Store

Old Military Commissariat Store
This large stone building, a declared National Monument, was completed in 1849, shortly before the outbreak of the Frontier War of 1850-53. It was used in times of both war and peace to store supplies. It was originally L-shaped but the wing nearest the road was demolished.
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Old Powder Magazine

Old Powder Magazine
The magazine buildings and surrounding wall represent one of the oldest and best preserved examples of its kind in South Africa. From the stonework it is obvious that the magazine was constructed in two stages, probably between 1852 and 1862 and between 1864 and 1875. Unfortunately the masonry joints have been repointed in an uncharacteristic manner while under renovation. Magazines consist of ...
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Ntaba kaNdoda

Ntaba kaNdoda
Ntaba kaNdoda is truly between a rock and a hard place.  It is a monument with a deep history in pre-colonial and early colonial legends, on the one hand, and disputed history in Lennox Sebe’s Ciskei, on the other hand.  Before Lennox Sebe erected the Dutch Reformed Church-inspired spike on the mountain there was Ntaba kaNdoda – a peak named after Chief Ndoda. Located ...
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Eardley-Wilmot Gun

Eardley-Wilmot Gun
This bronze muzzle-loading gun was cast at the Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich in 1859. F.M. Eardley-Wilmot was the Superintendent of the factory between 1855-1859, hence his name appears on the gun. The carriage is not contemporary with the ordnance and dates to post-1870. It was probably used at the battle of Umzintzani by the Graham’ s Town (sic) Volunteer Horse Artillery, who probably b...
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Brownlee Mission Congregational Churc

Brownlee Mission Congregational Churc
The Rev John Brownlee established the Buffalo Mission Station at present-day King William’s Town in 1826. In about 1847 he was forced by the military authorities to move his mission where this church was built in 1860. Round the church existed a large location, which was removed in 1939 under the provisions of the Elimination of Slums Act (1936). Descendants are currently awaiting compens...
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Dale College Primary School

Dale College Primary School
This fine red brick building is said to have been designed by the office of Sir Herbert Baker. Completed in 1908, the building was officially opened by Dr Thomas Muir, Superintendent of Education of the Cape Colony. It received National Monument status in 1982.
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Old Officers Mess

Old Officers Mess
The Officers' Mess, a declared National Monument, dates from the early 1850's. In the heart of the Military Reserve, it served the military until the Reserve was abandoned in the 1920's. In 1925 it became the residence of the principal of Excelsior School.  It is now part of the King Campus of Lovedale FET College. Although it has since undergone extensive reconstruction the hi...
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Ford Metz

Ford Metz
A stone cairn and National Monuments Council plaque were erected at this spot to mark the site of this small earthern redoubt. The stone blockhouse was nicknamed Fort Metz and was one of the outlying defends of the Military Reserve. It was demolished in the 1970's.
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Old Public Library

Old Public Library
This delightful Victorian public building was erected largely as a result of the efforts of Thomas Daines, pharmacist at the Grey Hospital. Originally completed in 1877, the building became part of the Amathole Museum in 1967 and is known as the Daines Wing, housing a 19th century local history display. It is a declared National Monument. 
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Old Natural History Museum Building

Old Natural History Museum Building
This National Monument was completed in 1898 to house the collections of the King William’s Town Naturalist Society which had been founded in 1884. It now contains part of the well-known Shortridge Mammal Collection and is the home of Huberta, the famous wandering hippo.
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Old Military Hospital

Old Military Hospital
These buildings were partially completed as early as 1849 and the present ones date from about 1875. Part of the complex was occupied by the first Conservator of Forests in the Eastern Cape Conservancy, Joseph Storr Lister, from c. 1890 until 1905.
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Royal Engineer's Mess

Royal Engineer's Mess
This substantial stone building was erected in c. 1862 and considerably altered over the years. It does however, retain some of its 19th century atmosphere.
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Old Smithy

Old Smithy
The square, stone smithy, part of the military complex in King William’s Town, was built in what was originally the grounds of the Rev John Brownlee’s Buffalo Mission. An aspect worth noting is the ventilated roof, built to allow the escape of warm air from inside the building.   
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Deed's Office Building

Deed's Office Building
The blue-stone national monument was completed in 1933 and was sympathetically designed to blend in with its historic surroundings. The Deeds Office dates back to 1858 when it was established to exercise control over British Kaffraria and was originally housed in the adjacent Magistrate’s Court.
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Holy Trinity Church and ring wall

Holy Trinity Church and ring wall
The building of Holy Trinity, now the oldest existing church in King William’s Town, was an act of faith in time of peril. It was accomplished in spite of official discouragement, war and financial difficulties. The foundation stone was laid in 1850 and work commenced by the military until the outbreak of the War of Mlanjeni (1850-1853) postponed building operations. The building was even...
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St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
Situated in Alexandra Road, this fine Gothic style church, built of local blue stone, was completed in 1883. There is an 80 feet tower and some notable stained glass windows. Memorials to notable missionaries, such as Rev. Tiyo Soga and Rev. John Brownlee, are present in the church.
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Military Reserve boundary stones

Military Reserve boundary stones
On the pavement opposite the Missionary Museum can be found an upright stone with the engraved letters ‘BO’. This Board of Ordnance stone marked the boundary of the Military Reserve and is one of three such stones still in existence in the town.
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German Settler Monument

German Settler Monument
This commemorates the arrival of the British German Legionaries of 1857 and the German (civilian) Settlers of 1858/9. The pillar feature represents the Brandenburg Gate, a feature of the once-walled city of Berlin. The pond represents the sea and the names of the ships which transported the immigrants out, are inscribed around it. On the west wall behind the Brandenburg gate are listed the sett...
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Edward Street Cemetery

Edward Street Cemetery
This was the first cemetery in King William’s Town and was used from the 1830’s to 1864 by all population groups. The upper part of the cemetery includes casualties of the Cattle Killing buried in a mass grave in 1856-7. The present layout of the cemetery dates has, unfortunately, been extensively refurbished.
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Children’s Cemetery

Children’s Cemetery
In 1967 seventy families were relocated to the area subsequently named Dimbaza - meaning a place where rubbish is dumped. They came from as far away as Middelburg and the Karoo. Due to the harsh living conditions hundreds of children died of malnutrition, tuberculosis and preventable diseases such as measles. Whereas other towns are built around a civic square, a town hall or shops, Dimbaza&rsq...
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Battle of Amalinde

Battle of Amalinde
The Battle of Amalinde took place in 1818 between two Rharhabe chiefs, namely: Chief Ngqika and his paternal uncle Ndlambe. Ndlambe’s army was led by his son, Mdushane and they were supported by the Gcaleka who were led personally into the battlefield by their paramount, Chief Hintsa.    The origins of the conflict between the uncle and his nephew were both personal and ...
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Amathole Museum

Amathole Museum
The Amathole Museum has its origins in the King William's Town Naturalist Society founded in 1884. The Society's collections quickly outgrew temporary accommodation in the Council Chambers and Public Library. From these small beginnings, the museum grew. It is the major attraction for visitors to King William's Town and also serves the local community. The original museum bu...
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