Things To Do in Somerset EastSomerset East Museum
Where? Corner of Beaufort Street and Paulet Streets, Somerset East, Eastern Cape.
When? Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 17h00.
How? Call +27 (0)42 243-1448
How much? Falls into price group R1 to R100 per person. Confirm with the provider.
Somerset East is a small town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, established in 1825. As such, it is bursting with history, both local and colonial, and exudes a unique charm of its own, despite being rather small and undeveloped in terms of major tourist attractions.
One of the buildings that have historical and cultural import is the Somerset East Museum. Initially, this was built to serve as the chapel and graveyard for the Wesleyan missionaries that settled here to educate the locals about Christianity. The chapel was consecrated in 1828, and was then transferred to the Dutch Reformed Church seven years later, when it was converted to a parsonage.
For over a century, the parsonage was home to Dutch Reformed ministers; the fourth (and last) of whom sold the property to his son, who was not particularly invested in the religious aspect of the building. Then, in 1972, the building was finally converted into a museum, honouring the colonial and cultural history of it and the town that was its home.
The gorgeous Georgian architecture and design testifies to the era in which this town was established and the deep sense of heritage with which it is imbued. The museum contains relics from yesteryear that tell the tale of life in 19th century South Africa. Furniture and lifestyle pieces recreate the look and feel of a bygone era, while there are original artworks by Walter Batiss bedecking the walls.
By the time the building was 150 years old (in 1975), it was inaugurated and declared a National Monument. It is nestled at the foot of the Bosberg Mountain Range, in the idyllic surrounds of the untouched Eastern Cape.