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Kenilworth Church


9 August 1902, Foundation stone of St Edward the Confessor in Kenilworth laid.
9 August 1902, Trooping of the Colours for the first time in Kimberley.
9 August 1902, Memorial Clock and Tower for Beaconsfield Town Hall completed.
9 August 1919, Griquas defeat the NZ Imperial Services XV in Kimberley 8 – 3.
9 August 1956, Frances Baard marches in the 20 000 strong march of women in Pretoria.

(Pictured is the Kenilworth church and the Foundation Stone).


Kenilworth Church Foundation Stone


The village of Kenilworth was the brainchild of none other than Cecil John Rhodes and was one of the first examples of the ‘garden city’ movement in South Africa.

The farm Kenilworth was bought from Mr Grewer by De Beers and Rhodes convinced the directors of De Beers to build a model village for miners who worked hard and should have better accommodation than the tin huts in sunburnt surroundings they were living in.

The desert-like Kenilworth came into existence in 1889 and after completion, it was known across the country as the best accommodation provided by a company. It resembled an oasis of trees and plants. Architect Sydney Stent designed the village and its buildings. Fruit orchards and thousands of trees were planted to green the village. Gardening was encouraged and especially the growing of vegetable gardens.

During the siege of Kimberley, fruit and vegetables from the gardens of Kenilworth fed the sick and hungry. At one time there were between 7 000 and 8 000 fruit trees.

Kenilworth had the longest vine in the world at the time. It measured two kilometres in length, but was dismantled when the wooden trellis began to rot.

A dam was on hand to water the plants.

Rhodes also built what could be called South Africa’s first nature reserve. An encampment was established at Kenilworth where amongst others giraffe, zebra and eland roamed up until 1925.

Rhodes himself selected N.S. Brown as the curator of Kenilworth in 1890, he served there for 23 years.

It was a model village consisting of a primary school, club, weather station, tennis courts, croquet courts, a swimming pool, a rifle club, athletic club, a cricket and football field, a postal, money order and telegraph office, a library and a tram service which opened on 1 February 1896. Trams ran between Kimberley and Kenilworth from 08h30 until 22h00 in the evening.

There were no shops at Kenilworth besides a chemist. However, dealers sent carts every day to make deliveries and take orders.

The club, which later became known as the institute, consisted of a billiard room, a free library, a reading room and a hall for social activities.

The weather station had state of the art equipment and was run by J.R. Sutton. The station was moved to the De Beers workshops in Hull Street in 1928. It was closed entirely in 1946.

In the early days of Kenilworth, there was no church. A very old pamphlet advertises a fête to be held at the tennis courts at Kenilworth to raise funds for a church. Before the church was built, services were held on a Thursday evening in a school room. Each week a preacher from a different denomination would deliver a sermon.

Daniel W. Greatbatch designed the church which was built in 1902. The corner-stone of the church has two dates inscribed on it. The first is 26 June and the second is 9 August 1902. The cornerstone was to be laid on the day of the coronation of King Edward VII, but he fell ill and the coronation was postponed. So too was the laying of the cornerstone.

The church was used as an Anglican church and was known as St. Edward’s. It ceased to exist as an Anglican church on 1 June 1969 and was used as a Dutch Reformed church. It was later restored and is used for services by the residents of Yonder.

As time went by, mining decreased and new accommodation was built for De Beers employees at Cassandra.

The old house named Yonder, which was initially home to the managing director of De Beers, was made available to the Northern Cape Mental Health Society. Later the society bought the village of Kenilworth from the Kenilworth Utility Company. It has since been the home of mentally challenged children and adults in the form of Jannie Brink School and Yonder.

(by Anneke du Toit/Noordkaap).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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