Anglican Church of St Peter Vryheid, a typical Sir Herbert Baker building
Sir Herbert Baker 9 June 1862 – 4 February 1946 was an English architect remembered as the dominant force in South African architecture for two decades, He embarked for South Africa in 1892 ostensibly to visit his brother, and was commissioned in 1893 by Cecil Rhodes to remodel Groote Schuur. He had the patronage of Lord Milner and was invited to the Transvaal to design and build residences for the British colonials. Baker quickly became noted for his work and was commissioned to design houses and commercial premises and public buildings
He designed many churches, schools and houses in South Africa. namely the Union Buildings (1909) Pretoria Station, Groote Schuur Rhodes Cottage Boschendal Grey College, Bloemfontein. In 1912 Baker went to India design the Secretariat Building, New Delhi and Parliament House Following the First World War, Baker was approached to assist in the design of suitable monuments to the efforts of British Commonwealth soldiers in Britain France & Belgium Kenya and even Australia
Fairbridge Church, Western Australia
The Priest of London 1892- 1901 Wilmot Lushington Vyvyan – 4th Bishop of Zululand was the person responsible for the building of this beautiful landmark in Vryheid. Vyvyan (1861-1937) was born into a noble family in Cornwall, England. He was the third and youngest son of the Rev rector of the Anglican parish of Winterbourne-Monkton in Dorsetshire. He was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, matriculated in 1880 one year after the Anglo Zulu War. Obtained his BA in 1883 and graduated MA in 1896 He became interested in Anglican missionary work among the London poor and began studies for the ministry and serving as a priest in London parish of Holy Trinity, Southwark 1892 to 1901
Vryheid 1901 Having been invited by William Marlborough Carter, then Bishop of Zululand, to undertake missionary work in Zululand, Vyvyan sailed on 21 January 1901 from England for Durban accompanied by a Mr. Terry – an experienced businessman who would be a tremendous help with mission projects such as the one to build St. David’s church-school in Vryheid From 1901 to 1903 Vyvyan served as a mission priest at Isandhlwana, Ingwavuma, and in Swaziland.
Bishop Of Zululand 1903 On 25 May 1903, Rev. Vyvyan was elected the 4th Bishop of Zululand & Swaziland.and was enthroned at the old St. Peter’s church in Vryheid. By early 1904 Vyvyan was living in a rented house in Vryheid with hopes of building “the English church” and a house for the bishop. Vyvyan described the exterior of Vryheid’s 1st old St. Peter’s church as “miserable” and “barn-like” this in the context of his hopes for a better Church building for Vryheid in the future.
In a South African Church Chronicle article reprinted in the March 1910 edition of “The Net”, it was reported that the laying of the foundation-stone for the new church building for St. Peter’s in Vryheid had been postponed because of a serious injury to the builder. In his April 5, 1911 letter to “The Net”, Vyvyan expressed renewed hope of a church worthy of being used as a pro-cathedral
Cathedral of St Peter Vryheid 1911 1911 The foundation stone of the Anglican Church of St Peter Vryheid was laid in November 1911 and by March 1912 a house to serve as the Bishop’s house had also been purchased
On in December 1912, Vyvyan went to for a fund-raising visit to England and returned 10th July 1913 aboard the R.M.S. “Galeka”, having raised £3,500. On March 4, 1914, the new red-brick building was described as “small but dignified”. It held 120 people comfortably and was well-furnished in every way due chiefly to the generosity of friends.
WEDDING Nov 1921 On 20 October 1921 Vyvyan announced his intended wedding to Miss Edith Mitchell of whom she has been a friend for eighteen years and the wedding was in Cape Town on November 21, 1921, The couple had no children.
Reign 1929 In an October 15, 1928 letter to “The Net”, Vyvyan announced his intention to resign as Bishop the following year on September 30, 1929, at which time he would be 68 years of age. He had concluded that the Diocese should have a younger Bishop with a fresher mind. Vyvyan’s October 29, 1929 letter to “The Net” was written from Warden’s Lodge, Grahamstown. He introduced readers to his successor Charles Aylen and informed them that he and his wife were settled in Grahamstown.
Vyvyan was described as a tireless missionary Bishop and covered many thousands of kilometres on horseback in order to carry out his pastoral duties effectively. The period of his episcopate was one of great growth in the Diocese accompanied by an extensive building program, the construction of the pro-cathedral at Vryheid and the mission church, St. Augustine’s, at Rorke’s Drift. Also, huge growth and contributions were made in the field of Zulu education and in the provision of medical facilities.
For his outstanding work in the field of mission, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity by the University of Cambridge in 1908.
A man of striking personality, zealous, self-sacrificing, and a fearless champion of the underdog, Vyvyan was greatly esteemed by all who came into contact with him. His interest in Anglican missions was not confined to Zululand as he also extensively participated in provincial missionary matters and conferences
After his 1929 resignation, Vyvyan becomes Warden of the Community of the Resurrection in Grahams town and chaplain of St. Peter’s Home there. He remained active in these capacities until his death on August 26, 1937, in Grahamstown.
The oldest brother of Bishop W.L.Vyvyan was Sir Courtenay Bourchier Vyvyan (1858-1941). Sir Courtenay, who eventually became the 10th Baronet of Trelowarren, fought on the side of the British in several South African conflicts. He fought in the Matabele War (1896) He was Lt. Colonel of the East Kent Regiment in the First Boer War (1879); and in second Boer War (1899- 1902); he was second in command at the siege of Mafeking.
So … Two Vyvyan brothers came to South Africa, one as a missionary priest. the other as a warrior,
This is extracts from “A Brief History, and Recollections The TEAM Missionary Children’s Home at Bishop’s House in Vryheid, South Africa” Second Edition Aug 2012 by Jon Morrill. Vryheid High School – Matric Class of 1964. Welcome to contact me for the “full version” of this paper