Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Recognise this church?

You may be surprised to find out that it isn't the famous St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London, but a church modeled on its design thousands of miles south! Yes, this is the Dutch Reformed Church in Cradock, South Africa.

Built one hundred and forty years after the Wren-inspired London masterpiece (actually designed by one James Gibbs), the Cradock church had a slightly bumpy start. At the opening ceremony in 1868, attended by thousands of folk who had come in from the surrounding farms and hamlets, the builder refused to hand over the keys because money was still owed to him. Given that the cost of construction was some £24000, presumably the IOU was not a small amount! A whip-around among the many worthies in attendance led to sufficient funds being collected to appease him, and the keys were duly handed over and the ceremony proceeded.

Since that time, the church has continued to sit proudly above the centre of Cradock, an unmistakable landmark as you approach the town.
Ada, in The Housemaid's Daughter, notes its dominance with a little indignation:
I could imagine flying right over the broad streets of the town, past the spire of the Dutch Reformed Church - far higher than St Peter's, the Master and Madam's church...

Interestingly, it wasn't only South Africa that drew on the design of London's St Martin-in-the-Fields, shown in the picture on the left.

The iconic building inspired lookalikes even further afield in the United States, in India...

Keep an eye out on your travels!

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