The village of Aberdeen, lying south of Graaff-Reinet within sight of the Camdeboo Mountains, is best appreciated during an early morning walk.
If you start at the Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of Aberdeen, you’ll notice the large olive tree in the grounds of the Mother Church. This was once a cutting from an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.
If the church hall is open, have a look inside at the 20 large panels displaying biblical scenes – they’re artfully made of sheep’s wool, cloth, hessian and glue.
Now stand outside the Dutch Reformed Church and look up at the steeple. Perfectionists will claim it’s 4,5cm off-kilter.
Anglo-Boer War historians will tell you about May 12, 1902, when there was a shoot-out on the steps of the church. Boer guerrilla Carel van Heerden was downed in a hail of British bullets here. He’d been trying to steal their horses.
A couple of streets down, is the former town post office – now part of the local magistrates court. There are even grimacing gargoyles looking down from the tiled roof. They say this building was meant to have been the magistrate’s court of Grahamstown. An administration SNAFU meant that the builders arrived in Aberdeen instead. Locals were grateful. The befuddled builders were, however, not paid out for their efforts.
Down the little streets of Aberdeen you will see architectural gems in Victorian, Gothic, Georgian and pure Karoo styles. And then you arrive at Pagel House and immediately you know this is a Feather Palace of note.
Built during the ostrich boom more than a century ago, this grand old Victorian mansion was built by Robert Clunie Logie, initially named Claremont and then renamed Pagel House by new owner Frank Wilke, who established a sizeable private zoo in the town. He named the house after his hero, circus legend Friedrich Wilhelm Pagel. Now belonging to Lyn Dugmore, Pagel House is Aberdeen’s leading guest house.
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