Slave Church Museum

National Monuments / Religious in or near CBD, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsSlave Church Museum

Where? 40 Long Street, Cape Town Central, City Bowl, Cape Town

Overnight? Accommodation in CBD, in Western Cape

Despite its position as one of the oldest and most graceful buildings on Long Street, the Slave Church Museum is without many visitors.

Perhaps this is because it is not on the well-trodden route of popular historical walks through town. Or simply because few know of its existence as the oldest mission church in the country, and the third oldest church of any denomination to still hold its original form.

The building was constructed by the efforts of the mason, Johan Gottfried Mocke, and carpenter, Joseph van Schalkover, assisted by slaves and free black people at the Cape in 1802 for the South African Missionary Institution.

The beautiful basilica, built with a curved apse, has the only remaining example of a lime-concrete roof, its front steps made from Robben Island slate. Its pretty stone and wood interior features oak pews, a neo-classical pulpit and an organ whilst the main gallery is supported by teak wood columns that were originally a ship’s mast.

The mission’s main intent was to provide literacy training and Bible classes to slaves, which is why it became known as the Slave Church.

By the 1960s the church was neglected and run-down, part of its walls collapsed. The provincial authorities restored it in the late 1970s assisted by a drawing of the building’s original exterior.

Look out for regular concerts (consult the Slave Church’s Facebook page) as the acoustics of the church make it ideal for music. Exhibitions in the museum include the history of the congregation and the building, as well as the missionary work of the time.

Visit it:
At 40 Long Street, Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 16h00. Entry is free.

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