Before the beautiful Dutch Reformed Church building went up in the Eastern Cape village of Pearston, faithful worshippers would gather under the pear tree on Rustenburg, Casper Lotter’s farm.
A dominee would ride across from Somerset East and do the honours. This may have been fun during the spring months of September and October, and again in the autumn months of April and May. But during high summer and deep winter? Maybe not so much.
The pear tree was significant. But was it so significant that the settlement was later called Pearston? Not really. The village was in fact named after one John Pears, a dedicated English teacher who later preached in the Dutch Reformed Church and dedicated much of his life to the local community.
Of all the farms in all the Karoo, Cranemere must be among the best known. Set not far from Pearston on the Graaff-Reinet road, Eve Palmer describes it lovingly in her evocative classic, The Plains of Camdeboo.
This was also the first farm in the area to be permanently inhabited, thanks to a fresh and cheerful spring discovered by Gerrit Lodewyk Coetzee. He dammed the spring and created a lake in the desert, precisely the reason George Palmer bought the land from him in 1880.
For five generations it has been in the Palmer family, with visitors as diverse as Cecil John Rhodes and that fossil-finding genius, James Kitching.
Check out our newly-released e-Book, 101 Karoo Towns HERE.