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St Patrick's Church

Throughout the 1820's and 1830's there were a significant number of Catholics living in the Eastern Cape. Some were early settlers, and some were soldiers, but the the local Catholics had no priests to minister to their spiritual needs until the arrival of Bishop Griffith and Father Burke in Grahamstown in 1838. On Sunday 15 July 1838 the Bishop celebrated mass in Widow Mahoney's house, which was near the site of the present church. When the Bishop left in August of 1838, Father Burke reluctantly stayed behind to establish a mission centre. The long distances of up to a 150 miles, which Father Burke had to travel to reach his congregation, proved to be too physically demanding and time consuming for the priest and assistance was sent to Grahamstown in the form of a Father Murphy, recently ordained priest from St. Peter's College. Wexford. A short time after the arrival of Father Murphy, Father Burke died in his sleep. A number of the locals had suspected that Father Murphy played a part in Father Burke's death, however he continued with his work, and soon became known all over the Eastern Cape.

Serving as a catholic military chaplain, Father Murphy formed a close relationship with the 27th Inniskillings Regiment, who later helped with the construction of the St. Patrick's Church. The design of the church was provided by Major Selwyn who was the Commanding Engineer in the Eastern Cape, and the plans were drawn up by Mr Teeling, a clerk in the Royal Engineers. Indeed the Church, with its many castle-like battlements, shares a resemblance with Major Selwyn's Gothic Castle in Prince Alfred Street. The foundation stone was laid in July of 1839, and July of 1844, the church was consecrated by Bishop Griffiths and a large congregation which included the Lieutenant Governor, various civil and military officials and prominent citizens of Grahamstown.

A number of people have noticed a resemblance between the St Patrick's Church and Battle Abbey in Hastings, in England, which both display a strong military character. The old solid stone building which stands in Hill Street in Grahamstown, provided protection to people of the area, which included pupils of the Assumption Convent, who sought safety there during the Frontier Wars of 1846 and 1851. The Sisters of the Assumption Convent still stands at St. Patrick's today.

1847 saw St Patrick's Church being raised to the status of pro-cathedral, and the promotion of Bishop Aidan Devereaux to Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern Districts of the Cape. Bishop Devereaux was succeeded by Bishops Moran and Ricards, and when Bishop Strobino succeeded Bishop Ricards in 1839, he moved the seat of the Episcopacy to Port Elizabeth. Ricards ,with his friend Dr. Atherstone, was one of the men responsible for the identification of the first diamond discovered at the Cape in 1867, and the pane of glass on which he inscribed his initials can bee seen in the Observatory Museum. The diamond, known as the Eureka diamond is now kept in the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Bishop Ricards was also responsible for selecting the High Altar of St Patrick's Church, which was bought during a visit to Paris in 1886.

Nearby Listings

Aries Guest

Self Catering Apartment, Flatlet Accommodation in Grahamstown

0.5km North of center of St Patrick's Church

Aries Guest is among the best self-catering accommodation options available in the Grahamstown area. Based in a secure apartment block in the suburb of Oatlands, with views stretching up over the town and Rhodes University, Aries Guest boasts not only s

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Sleeps: 8

Eagle's Nest Bed & Breakfast

Bed & Breakfast Accommodation in Grahamstown

1.0km East of center of St Patrick's Church

Three reasonably priced self-contained garden flats each with their own private entrance. One of the flats sleeps 4 (twin beds and bunk beds with hospitality mattresses) and the other 2 flats (twin beds in each) sleep 2 people.

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Sleeps: 9 in 3 units/rooms

1 on Ross

Self Catering House, Cottage, Chalet Accommodation in Grahamstown

1.0km North West of center of St Patrick's Church

1 on Ross consists of three cottages nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac just off Henry Road. It has a beautiful garden which featured in the Gardens of Grahamstown show, pool and offers braai facilities.

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11 Worcester-on-Durban Guest House

Guest House Accommodation in Grahamstown

1.2km West of center of St Patrick's Church

Welcome to 11 Worcester-on-Durban Guest House offering exceptional bed and breakfast and self-catering facilities in the West Hill area, close to the centre of Grahamstown.

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Fiddlewood Fields

Self Catering House, Cottage, Chalet Accommodation in Grahamstown

1.2km West of center of St Patrick's Church

Fiddlewood Fields is a beautiful guest house, set in quiet, lush gardens in the city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape

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Sleeps: 16 in 6 units/rooms

Jenny's B&B

Bed & Breakfast Accommodation in Grahamstown

1.6km North West of center of St Patrick's Church

Experience warm South African hospitality with home from home comforts at Jenny's B&B. Situated in a tranquil suburb in Grahamstown, heart of Settler country, with a picturesque garden, perfect for a restful stay.

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Sleeps: 8 in 2 units/rooms
From R 650,00
Per unit, per night.

A Stone's Throw

Bed & Breakfast Accommodation in Grahamstown

4.4km East of center of St Patrick's Church

Freedom is a stone's throw away...stunning sunsets - country garden setting - spectacular views - bird lover's delight - swimming pool - scenic walks - children welcome. Warm Eastern Cape Hospitality!

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Sleeps: 6
From R 350,00
Per person, per night sharing.


Self Catering House, Cottage, Chalet Accommodation in Kenton-on-sea

25.5km South East of center of St Patrick's Church

Belton farm is situated in close proximity to the Sunshine Coast and Frontier Country, offering you the best of both worlds. It is within easy distance to the beautiful beaches of Kenton-on-Sea, game lodges offering Big 5 game viewing...

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Sleeps: 32 in 16 units/rooms
From R 3 405,00
Per person, per night sharing.

Sibuya Game Reserve

Game Reserve And Bush Lodge Accommodation in Grahamstown

39.8km South East of center of St Patrick's Church

The delightfully scenic Kariega River estuary winds its way through wooded thickets and steep banks before opening out onto wide, grassy flats and sandbanks just upstream of the Indian Ocean mouth

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Sleeps: 14

The Stables

Self Catering House, Cottage, Chalet Accommodation in Bushman's River Mouth

39.9km South East of center of St Patrick's Church

The holiday house is well-situated close to many of this area's attractions, including game reserves, pristine beaches, the Cannon Rocks and Alexandria Hiking Trial, and a variety of sheltered bays for snorkelling, fishing and other water sports.

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