Tag Archive: Sophy Gray


Riversdale (Afrikaans Riversdal)  is an agricultural town on the N2 beneath the imposing Langeberg mountains to the North and rolling farm lands to the South.    What is the claim to fame for Riversdale and why do we write about Riversdale?  For us it is one of those towns that you just pass by very carefully as their traffic police is very active and we never really take time to explore.  So, recently we made a day trip to  Riversdale and to see what there is to do. The town is surrounded with fynbos, ericas and buchu is growing wild.  Fynbos  is also one of the main export products of the area.  Buchu is that  very distinctive smell that you get when you approach Riversdale on the N2.  The  natural beauty of the area is also  very popular with hikers and boasts several hiking trails at Boosmansbos and Grootvaderbosch. To the… Read more >


I just love to find all the little churches of this remarkable lady – Sophy Gray.  This one dating back to 1879 adds another tick to my Gray list! The church with its lovely setting is situated close to a grove of trees and overlooks the beach and ocean towards the distant Tsitsikama Mountains. In 1848 when the Grays (Rev Robert and his wife Sophy) arrived at the Cape of Good Hope there were almost no Anglican churches in the diocese in Cape Town. Bishop Gray’s enthusiasm – the obvious need for churches – and apparent lack of architectural services as well as money probably encouraged Sophia Gray (a self taught architect) to design buildings to suit the immediate needs. Saint Peter’s was built from a random selection of stones and boasts beautiful glass stained windows.  The church welcomes visitors, but please show respect when entering the premises.


During 2011  me and my hubby riding buddy went on a motorbike trip to Namakwaland to see the spring flowers in all its majesty.  The first night we slept at the sleepy town of Frazerburg in The Groot Karoo. Waking up to a freezing but spectacular sunrise and after a hearty breakfast we set off on our long day’s ride.   First of all we had to get Daisy (for those of you who do not know – that is my GS) and Ogre (that is hubby’s GS) going in the chilly weather.   Like our cold and stiff fingers they were not used to these low temperatures of the Karoo.  Welcome in the heartland of the Karoo! On our way out of town I was fortunate enough to track down another Sophy Gray church at 31°55′00″S 21°30′47″E which was built in 1870 – one year before her death  on 27 … Read more >


Today, while on my way to Diepwalle Camping Decks in the heart of the Knysna Forest I made a quick stop in the centre of Knysna to take some pictures of another Sophy Gray church so I entered through the old wooden gates to explore some more. Sophy’s stone churches stole my heart and now I am on a quest to tick them off one by one.  This quaint church with its tranquil garden is situated in the Main Road, but is easily missed when one is in a hurry. John Rex., son of the legendary George Rex, laid the foundation stone in 1849 and soon after in 1850 construction started on plans adapted and provided by Sophy.  Her church, the first in Knysna, is standing in front of the newer, darker church building which was only constructed in 1926. The gardens are well kept and the green grass, edged… Read more >


I took some time off from my day job and did a bit of exploring in my own town.    I must confess that I have been living in George for more than 15 years and have never visited the little stone cathedral in the middle of town. Arriving over the lunch hour on a sunny day I found the gardener attending to the lawn with love and care.  He only gave me a quick glance and carried on with his tasks at hand. Today the little stone church stood out against the blue sky with picture opportunities aplenty. This is another one of the legendary Sophy Gray churches. The design of the cathedral is based on the Littlemore Church near Oxford in England which was designed by Henry Jones Underwood.  Three stonemasons were used to build the cathedral and it was completed in only 13 months.  Without the modern technology… Read more >


I have driven past this little stone church situated in Donkin Street probably hundreds of times and never noticed it until I stumbled upon Sophy Gray and started tracing her footsteps throughout South Africa. This is another one of the famous Bishop Gray’s churches dotted all over South Africa, but it seems according to the records that the Bishop was not that happy with the building process – goes to show that even in those early days architects were  hard to please.  🙂  Building work started in 1851 and lasted until 1854. It is recorded that the church was not built in accordance with the approved plans as provided by the Bishop and his wife.  The cause of the dismay was apparently that the roof was lowered and the length of the church was decreased and some other nitty gritty stuff.  According to the Bishop this resulted that the Christ… Read more >


The first and foremost thing that struck me about King Williams Town, as we drove into the centre of the town, is the abundance of steeple chases complimented by the purple jacarandas  that was coming into bloom dotted all over town. King Williams Town started as a mission station on the banks of the Buffalo River in 1834 and boasts a number of old and interesting buildings.  This probably also explain the abundance of steeple chases that you can see when scanning the horizon.  While having breakfast at the Spur I had a good vantage point to admire yet another Sophy Gray church.  When reading up on the history of the stone churches I became hooked on this remarkable and inspiring woman that Sophy Gray was and now try to find as many of her churches as  I possibly can.  It seems they just have the habit of popping up in… Read more >

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