All situated in Queen Street...
Millwood House | Local History
Parkes Shop | History of Timber Industry
Parkes Cottage | History of Millwood & George Rex
Pitt Street House | Anglo Boer War Display
Situated in the Old Goal Complex, Queen Str, Knysna...
All of the above venues can be visited from Monday to Friday between 9:30 and 16:30 and on a Saturday between 9:30 and 12:30. No entry charge, but a donation can be made to the museum fund. 044 302 6320
Other places of historic interest...
Knysna is steeped in its colourful past. Woodcutters, golddiggers, merchants and sailors, colonial landlords, craftsmen, ordinary folk - all have left their mark and contributed to its history. Many historical sites and buildings offer a glimpse of bygone times.
Some are within the town, like St Georges churches, Millwood House and the Old Gaol but others, like the Holy Trinity Church, Belvidere, or the Millwood gold mining village, oblige the visitor to take a short, scenic drive to enjoy their attractions.
A booklet, 'Wandering through Historical Knysna, features significant historical buildings within the town. It is available from Knysna Tourism and was written by Margaret Parkes and Vicky Williams. Cost R25.00 each
The Old Gaol was constructed in 1859 by convicts assigned to the road engineer Thomas Bain for the construction of the Prince Alfred Pass. The building now houses an Angling Museum, the Maritime History of Knysna display, an Art Gallery, and a coffee shop.
Millwood House and Parkes Cottage are quaint little wood-and-iron buildings typical of the dwellings constructed in the goldmining village of Millwood. Several of these houses were transported to Knysna in sections and re-erected. The walls are constructed of yellowwood planks. These buildings are National Monuments and house a museum of local history and displays on George Rex and the goldfields. Behind Parkes Cottage is the shop originally owned by the firm Geo. Parkes & Sons, which houses a timber display.
St. George's Church was completed in 1855 on land set aside for this purpose by George Rex, the 'Founder and Proprietor of Knysna'. It features exposed hammer trusses, a timbered ceiling and lovely wide yellowwood floorboards. In time, the little church became too small for the growing Knysna community, and a larger church was added on the same property in 1926.
George Rex's Grave: George Rex (1765-1839) is described on his gravestone as the 'Founder and Proprietor of Knysna'. He was a leading landowner, timber dealer and agriculturist in the district, and it was largely due to his persistent representations that the Knysna lagoon was opened as a harbour in 1817. His descendants erected the gravestone in April 1893.
The Holy Trinity Church in Belvidere, built by Thomas Henry Duthie is a beautiful example in miniature of the Norman style of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It was planned according to the English custom, as a place of worship for the Duthie family, their friends and their servants, and has retained much of the intimate character of that period. The entire pulpit, except for the parapet, was carved out of a single block, known as the 'Monster Stone'. The bell was cast in England in 1854. The church is now a popular venue for weddings.
Millwood: In 1876 gold was discovered near Knysna. Hundreds of aspirant fortune hunters flocked to Millwood. A town mushroomed within weeks. Six hotels sprang up, together with houses and shops. By 1888 there were 1400 claims being worked. However, not enough of the precious metal was recovered to sustain a town and its people. Mining machinery was abandoned where it stood and Millwood became a ghost town. The goldfields were deproclaimed in 1924.
Today, Millwood still maintains a mystical aura. There are remains of old foundations, street signs, a forlorn graveyard, tunnels and mine shafts. Some old stamp batteries and steam engines have been restored. The 'Materolli', or Monk's Store houses a tea room and a museum where visitors can obtain a pictorial background of the area and its mining heyday. The Millwood hiking trail covers 5,6 km in this area.
The Knysna Fort caters for spectacular views over Knysna from "Thomsons Folly", the most Southerly fortress of the Boer War - yet it never saw military action….
Download page one of the Historic Building Walking Map
- Click here to download -
Download page two of the Historic Building Walking Map
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