Motivation for proposed Grade I gradings

When Stellenbosch is being referred to as the oldest town in South Africa, “town” is interpreted as a so-called western European concept. Naturally there were many settlements of indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa, but not with the formal structure implied by the concept “town”.

  • This barrel-vaulted military arsenal was completed in 1777, when the town of Stellenbosch was almost a century old, but there were still very few buildings (see the reconstructed map of 1770 by Hans Fransen, included in documentation)
  • It is the only remaining arsenal outside of Cape Town
  • In addition it is the only building in Stellenbosch displaying the VOC monogram
  • It is one of the outstanding landmarks in the town of Stellenbosch
  • Its location is on the edge of Die Braak, which is in itself a recommended grade I site
  • Its history includes a part of the history of the fire brigade in Stellenbosch, as the space between the wall of the building and the enclosing wall was roofed over at some stage and housed the fire brigade




  • This house is located on the oldest street corner of Stellenbosch (c/o Church and Ryneveld Streets)
  • The land was granted to Sebastian Schreuder in 1709 and he built a typical modest Cape vernacular house, as fitted a messenger of the court. The house is therefore associated with one of the first occupations in town.
  • It is important because it represents the simple pioneer inhabitants of the town, in contrast to the more well-known Cape Dutch architecture of the more wealthy.
  • Although parts of the house have been destroyed, it is certain that at least a section of the original remained and was re-used when the house was rebuilt. That makes it (part of it) one of the oldest residential buildings in the country and probably the oldest in a town.




Theological Seminary
  • This building is situated on the oldest premises in the oldest town in South Africa. It is on the spot where Simon van der Stel has camped on the night of 6 November 1679, and where he instructed that the first Drostdy of the new settlement should be built.
  • The site has the further historical acclaim that it was on an island till the 1770’s when the northern branch of the Eerste River was filled in.
  • A number of buildings were built on the foundations of the very first Drostdy of 1686. In 1768 it was converted to an H-shaped Cape Dutch building.
  • In 1859 the Theological Seminary was established in Stellenbosch. It was the very first higher educational institution in this town that had since then become renowned for its educational institutions of excellence. The first high school, the Stellenbosch Gymnasium, was established to serve as a feeder school for the Seminary. This school lead in due course to the beginning of the Stellenbosch College, which became the Victoria College, the precursor of the University of Stellenbosch.
  • The building itself, that since the early 19th century had become a private dwelling, was bought by the church in 1868 and converted to serve as home for the Seminary. The conversion was done by the architect Carl Otto Hager, who was by then a wellknown designer mainly of churches. He was a resident of Stellenbosch and had contributed enormously to the architectural heritage of South Africa with his 19th century designs of Neo-Gothic churches.
  • In 1905 additions were added to the Seminary and the façade was changed to the present appearance with a predominantly eclectic approach with strong French influence.




Dutch Reformed Mother Church
  • The present building of the Dutch Reformed Mother church of Stellenbosch was not the first church building in the town. The latter burnt down in 1710 and the first mentioned was transformed to its present appearance in 1863.
  • The enlargement and conversion of the church was done by Carl Otto Hager, wellknown Church architect of Stellenbosch. Hager has designed churches all over South Africa.
  • One of the most important contributions of Hager to church architecture was his ability to adapt the Neo-Gothic style of Europe and Britain, which was a revival of the 12th – 14th century Gothic style, to a colonial Neo-Gothic, that became typical of South Africa in the latter half of the 19th century.Hager’s design of the Stellenbosch church was in a more formal and magnificent style than the rural colonial Neo-Gothic and does not have many equals.
  • The church as institution in the old Stellenbosch of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, of which this building is representative, played an important role in the religious and social lives of the inhabitants (once again particularly important because it is the oldest town).




Die Braak
  • The term “braak” refers to an uncultivated, undeveloped piece of land. This specific braak played a pivotal role in the history of Stellenbosch.
  • Since 1703 it was used for military exercises by the Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Infantry.
  • At various stages the grounds were utilised for different kinds of sports.
  • Since the 19th century the Braak was used for a variety of festivities, such as Queen Victoria’s Birthday, and later the revival of the celebrating of Simon van der Stel’s birthday on 14 October. This became well known as the Van der Stel Festival.
  • The various names that this piece of land carried over the centuries, reflects the colonial periods of the Dutch and the British respectively. In the 19th century it was also known as “King’s Square” and “Adderley Square”.
  • Most importantly the Braak is surrounded by various buildings of high historical and architectural importance, such as the Rhenish Church, the Rhenish Educational Complex (of which a section is today known as the PJ Olivier Art Centre), the Kruithuis, the Burgerhuis and at least two more historical buildings on the northern side.
  • In the present day the Braak has become a symbol of unification for the people of Stellenbosch; it is a piece of land that all the inhabitants of the town can identify with and call it their own (this was established in a survey conducted by the Stellenbosch Heritage Project in 2012/2013)