Clumber Church of 1867
Established in 1825

 Clumber Church of 1867
Established in 1825

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CLUMBER CHURCH OF 1867

CLUMBER CHURCH IS A METHODIST CHURCH WHICH FORMS PART OF THE PORT ALFRED CIRCUIT - ONE OF THE FEW COUNTRY CHURCHES WHICH REMAIN.

The Clumber Church is a Methodist Church and is one of many Churches which form part of a Circuit. This country church is one which forms part of the Port Alfred circuit.

SITE OF CLUMBER CHURCH

The siting of the Clumber Church was central to the Nottingham Party of 1820, the area where this Party from Nottinghamshire, England, settled. They formed a part of some 3800 persons, known as the 1820 Settlers, the majority of whom settled in the area between what is now known as Port Elizabeth and the Great Fish River, the Eastern border of the Cape Colony; a region known as the Zuurveld.

The Clumber Church stands atop a knoll, named Mount Mercy by the Nottingham Party . They held a Service of Thanksgiving here on their arrival in 1820 after a journey of nearly 7 months to the CapeColony. It is the third Church the 1820 Settlers  and their descendants built at this spot, and was opened on 10 November 1867. Still in use today with a Service held on the fourth Sunday of the month at 11h00, the Clumber Church faces difficult times due to the depopulation of the countryside. Once a thriving social gathering place, it boasted a school, teachers' home, manse, a hall used for social occasions as well as Sunday School teaching, a cricket field, tennis courts and clubhouse. Now all that remains is the Church opened in 1867, and the school building; dating from 1905. Both the School and the Church were declared National Monuments on 23 November 1980.

THE PRECEDING CLUMBER CHURCHES

The existing Clumber Church of 1867 was preceded by two Churches, all built on Mount Mercy.

The first was built in 1825, a mere 5 years after the arrival of the Nottingham Party, an astonishing achievement considering that this Party from Nottinghamshire were poverty stricken. This Church was entered, and damaged, by the invaders in the Sixth Frontier War when the entire area was evacuated.

The second was built in 1837 and endured depredations during 2 Frontier Wars. In the Eighth Frontier War the Church was used as a Command Station instead of evacuating the area as was the case in The Sixth Frontier War.

A KNOLL IN THE CLUMBER VALLEY

 Mount Mercy

Mount Mercy is a small hill situated in a valley between Bathurst and Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. This knoll has been central to the Nottingham Party of 1820 Settlers and the subsequent Clumber Community as a place of gathering, schooling and worship. And it was here, at the foot of Mount Mercy, on July 25 1820, that the Nottingham Party offloaded their belongings from the wagons and carts that had transported them on their journey from Algoa Bay. The last leg of their long journey which had seen them leave Nottingham and board the vessel Albury in Liverpool in mid January 1820. Their final destination in a land which for them meant new beginnings. 

The Clumber Church is situated on the crown of Mount Mercy, so called by the Nottingham Party of 1820 Settlers because of their safe arrival after a journey which started in Nottingham in England to their final destination here of just under 7 months. They held a Service of Thanksgiving on Mount Mercy on the day of their arrival on 25 July 1820. Services were then held under the trees at John Bradfield's home close by, as well as the home of William Pike in inclement weather until the first Clumber Church was built on Mount Mercy and opened on 28 September 1825. 

When the entire Nottingham Party at Clumber had to abandon the area during the 6th Frontier War, the first Clumber Church, being abandoned, was entered and damaged by the invaders. So, it was decided that a second Church be built, also on Mount Mercy. This second Clumber Church was opened on 31 December 1837. After seeing through the 7th Frontier War, or War of the Axe, in 1846, as well as the 8th Frontier War of 1850, and being a source of refuge during these troubled times, the Church being in a poor state, it was decided to build a third Clumber Church, the current, also on Mount Mercy. This third Clumber Church was opened in 1867.  So, whilst the Clumber Church celebrated its 150th year in 2017, the Word of God has been proclaimed here at Mount Mercy from 25 July 1820.

The Approach to Clumber Church and Clumber School
The Approach to Clumber Church and Clumber School

DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO GET TO CLUMBER CHURCH

The Clumber Church lies close to the R67 road which connects Port Alfred to Grahamstown. From Port Alfred travel to Bathurst, proceed through the village and 3km beyond Bathurst, turn right onto the Shaw Park road. Travel a further 2 km and turn left to Martindale ( The Clumber Church directional sign is here) Descend the hill into the Clumber valley and turn right at another Clumber Church directional sign.

Please note that the premises are unattended but you are more than welcome to walk around the Church and explore the graveyard in which a number of 1820 Settlers are buried.

Aerial view of Clumber Church of 1867 and Clumber School 1905
Aerial view of Clumber Church of 1867 and Clumber School 1905

BOTH CLUMBER CHURCH AND CLUMBER SCHOOL ARE LISTED AS HISTORICAL BUILDINGS

 

 The SAHRA Heritage Buildings on the Clumber Precinct 

The Clumber Church and Clumber School on the Clumber Precinct were proclaimed National Monuments on 23 November 1980. The National Monument Council was superseded by The South African Heritage Resource Agency ( SAHRA ) which acknowledges this Complex as a Provincial Heritage site..

SAHRA Site Identification 29463 SAHRA Identifier Number 9/2/009/0014

Re-assembling the Steeple 2016
Re-assembling the Steeple 2016

THE STEEPLE IS DISMANTLED, REPAIRED AND FINALLY INSTALLED

This website also details the extensive repairs and renovations the Clumber Church and Clumber School buildings have undergone since the end of 2015. Whilst the Church's restoration was complete by the time of the 150th Celebrations in 2017, this was not the motivation behind the restoration. It was simply that the buildings had fallen into disrepair and the Clumber Community was determined to reverse the obvious decay.
Clumber Church of 1867 atop Mount Mercy with the Clumber School of 1905 in the background
Clumber Church of 1867 atop Mount Mercy with the Clumber School of 1905 in the background
The interior of Clumber Church with most of the 1867 furnishings still intact
The interior of Clumber Church with most of the 1867 furnishings still intact
Courteney George Bradfield