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Bishop Herman Meysing


UPDATED: 15/03/2024

15 March 1902, Kimberley Town Bowling Clubhouse opened.
15 March 1928, Wilfrid Gore-Brown, first Anglican Bishop of Kimberley, dies.
15 March 1930, Bishop Herman Meysing OMI consecrated in St Mary’s Cathedral.
15 March 1934, Kimberley’s first Coloured Mayor, Herbert Rose, born.
15 March 1978, Mother of five, Maria Veldsman murdered in Pullinger Street, Beaconsfield.


Wilfrid Gore Browne (pictured) was born in India on 6 May 1859, the youngest of the family of Col Sir Thomas Gore Browne KCMG, spending his early years in New Zealand where his father was Governor. He was educated, with his brother Frank Gore Browne, K.C., at Harrow School (from 1873) and at Trinity College, Cambridge where he took his degree in 1881.


Wilfrid Gore Browne

Before his ordination Gore Browne enlisted with the 11th Hussars for six months “with the object of getting experience which would help him in his work among men.”

Ordained deacon in the Diocese of Durham in 1882, priest in 1883, his first post was as Curate at Pallion, 1882-3. He served subsequently at St Hilda, South Shields, 1883-7; St John the Evangelist, Darlington, 1887-9; and as Perpetual Curate/Priest in charge of St Hilda’s, Darlington, 1889–1902; before a posting to South Africa which he took on account of serious lung trouble.

A correspondent describing his pioneer work at St Hilda’s mission in a slum district of Darlington wrote of “a sheer spiritual romance, full of interest, delight and humour. The vicar’s enthusiastic joy in the life of the Church was amazingly infectious. On one Easter Day, coming down to the chancel steps to preach at the Eucharist, he gave out his text, ‘The Lord is risen indeed!’ and after a moment’s silence, said, with a smile that was all but a laugh, ‘It’s no use, dear people; I can’t say anything more,’ and returned to the altar.”

Gore Browne was described at this time as “a thorough Catholic and a true Evangelical.” His church of St Hilda’s was, apart from the mother parish of St John’s, the only church in Darlington then where Catholic ceremonial was in use and all sacramental privileges provided.

In South Africa, as Rector of Pretoria, 1902–1909, then Dean of Pretoria he was instrumental, as he had been in England, in setting up fledgling churches.

Promotion to the Episcopate came in 1912 following his election as the first Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, a vast, newly established diocese, 305,000 square miles (790,000 km2) in extent, carved out of the existing Diocese of Bloemfontein, with a portion from the Diocese of Cape Town, and half of Bechuanaland Protectorate which had until then been administered as part of the Diocese of Mashonaland (Southern Rhodesia). He was Consecrated at Bloemfontein Cathedral on 29 June 1912.

He was enthroned at St Cyprian’s Cathedral in Kimberley in a similarly impressive service the following day, 30 June 1912.

Soon the work organising the new diocese was presenting immense difficulties. His Dean, T.C. Robson was away ill, leaving the cathedral in his hands. There were no funds. With the outbreak of war in 1914 the Kimberley mines were shut down, causing huge loss of jobs; further afield in the diocese “droughts seemed almost continuous” and “poverty irremediable.”

Gore Browne raised funds for the Diocese on return visits to England. He was also able to recruit new clergy who numbered only 22 in 1912. In 1916 there were ten African clergy and more than this number by the end of the 1920s. Gore Browne also opened new parishes and districts and saw to the building new churches such as at Batlharos.

During sixteen years in Kimberley and Kuruman Bishop Gore Browne is recorded as having visited and ministered in every part of his far-flung diocese (which has since shrunk, no longer including the enormous area which is now the southern half of Botswana). “He spared himself nothing on his long treks,” the Church Times obituary notes, “often having to walk for hours through deep sand when his motor stuck.” There were parts that could be reached only by ox wagon. Gore Browne is well known for the special ministry he developed to the migrant workers and convicts on the mines in Kimberley, amongst whom he was “trusted and greatly loved and respected”.

Bishop Wilfrid Gore Browne died unexpectedly following emergency surgery at Kimberley Hospital on 15 March 1928.

Gore Browne was assisted in many ways by his sister, Miss Mabyl Gore Browne, who lived with him at Darlington, Pretoria and Kimberley. She died in Kimberley in May 1926. According to one source, Mabyl was instrumental in the establishment of Bishop’s Hostel for Anglican boys attending schools in Kimberley.

The 1913 Synod resolved to transfer the Perseverance School from St Cyprian’s to the diocese. In order to present more than mere schooling the diocese had the government Education Department officially recognise Perseverance, in 1917, as a teacher training centre. In the following year 430 children and 92 student teachers were enrolled.

Perseverance had originated as one of a number of educational initiatives of the 1870s at St Cyprian’s Parish on the Diamond Fields. A St Cyprian’s Grammar School and St Michael’s School for girls had not been able to compete with government schools once they were brought into existence, and it was against this background that the Bishop’s Hostel for Anglican boys attending other schools in Kimberley was established in January 1915, the Bishop himself as its first warden.

A fitting memorial to Bishop Wilfrid Gore Browne was the establishment of the Gore Browne (Native) Training School, several years in the making, and opened officially on 29 October 1938. “Gore Browne”, as it was known, was dis-established in 1954 and closed as a result of Bantu Education and Group Areas legislation under Apartheid.

Bishop Wilfrid Gore Browne was an accomplished watercolourist who left a sizeable collection of painted studies (and sketches) of Africans with whom he met or engaged in the Kimberley mine compounds and during his travels around his vast diocese. Hailed as being of importance as ethnographic record by A.J.H. Goodwin, they depart from stereotype and, unusually for the era, sensitively depict real individual and often named personalities from the margins of South African society. The collection is preserved at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, and was show-cased in a patronal festival exhibition at the cathedral under Dean Thomas Stanage in 1976 and in an exhibition opened by Dean Brian Beck of St Cyprian’s at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in 2003.

(Mostly from Wikipedia).

UPDATED: 15/03/2019

15 March 1902, Kimberley Town Bowling Clubhouse opened.
15 March 1928, Wilfrid Gore-Brown, first Anglican Bishop of Kimberley, dies.
15 March 1930, Bishop Herman Meysing OMI consecrated in St Mary’s Cathedral.
15 March 1934, Kimberley’s first Coloured Mayor, Herbert Rose, born.
15 March 1978, Mother of five, Maria Veldsman murdered in Pullinger Street, Beaconsfield.


Herman Joseph Meysing (pictured) was born in Birkungen Germany on 6 September 1886, and died on 21 October 1963 aged 77 years. On 9 July 1911 he was ordained a priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and was based in Windhoek South West Africa, working in the vicariate as a missionary and teacher. After some 12 years, in 1924 Meysing was transferred to Kimberley as an administrator and in 1929 was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Kimberley being ordained Bishop in March 1930. In January 1951 he was appointed Archbishop of Bloemfontein, a position he resigned in 1954, becoming Titular Archbishop of Dercos. When he died he was Archbishop Emeritus of Bloemfontein.

When Bishop Meysing took over the Kimberley vicariate in 1925, there was not a single Catholic station in the whole of Botswana, then known as British Bechuanaland. He blamed this situation on the British policy of ‘indirect rule’ which transferred much of the authority to the tribes and their chiefs, giving them the final say on whether Christian denominations would be allowed to open mission stations or not.

Despite the sympathetic hearing given by the British officials, the chiefs were unwilling to grant land to the Catholic Church and eventually Meysing had to purchase a property in the restricted area of the Protectorate reserved for whites.

In 1928, Meysing established St Joseph’s mission at Kgale (Khale), not far from Gaborone (the present day capital city), where the farm Albini Hill was bought with financial assistance from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

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