Anglican church celebrates 150 in town

The St Paul’s Youth Group joining in the celebration on Sunday.

LYDENBURG – The Anglican Parish of Mashishing celebrated the 150th anniversary of St John’s Church, on the corner of Kerk and Burger streets in Lydenburg, on Sunday July 30. The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, visited the parish and inaugurated the new memorial garden behind the church building.In the 1860s, despite only having a small population, Lydenburg became the provincial centre for the gold fields, as many people travelled via the town on the hazardous journey through malaria and sleeping sickness country to reach Pilgrim’s Rest.It was in this opportune and challenging context that the Bishop of Zululand, the Rt Rev Edward Wilkinson, arrived in Lydenburg.

The St John’s Parish was established, with Rev John Thorne the first resident priest. In 1874 the building of the present church commenced. It was one of the first Anglican churches in the old Transvaal. The church bell was made in England in 1884, and transported from Durban to Lydenburg by ox-wagon. It arrived in 1887 and has the words “When I do call, come surf (serve) God all”, engraved on it.In 1886, Rev Alfred Roberts started work on an English school on the church grounds. In 1925, a hostel was built for boys and girls but it was sadly demolished in 1970 due to a lack of funds and resulting deterioration.During the Anglo-Boer War, the church served as a garrison church for troops quartered in and around the town.In the church, mural tablets commemorate the men of the Manchester Regiment who were killed during the war, and another honours the Lydenburg Volunteers who died during the Sekhukhune Wars of 1876.

In August 2000, St John’s became part of the independent Parish of Mashishing, which included the congregations of St John’s

and St Paul’s.

Gerda Whitehorn

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