Karoo Magic – Mother Church of Hanover

Story and Pix by Chris Marais

If you stand at the top of a little hill called Trappieskoppie and look south, you will see the Northern Cape village of Hanover in all its old glory.

In the midst, like a queen bee, stands the NG Mother Church which, when opened in 1907, encouraged the faithful to bring their own chairs to services. Before the era of electricity, the church chandeliers were powered by methane gas sourced from sheep dung.

In its time there has been no shortage of colourful dominees and kosters (vergers) in Hanover. The first dominee had his pastorie (manse) built in a “B-for-Bethlehem” shape. Another dominee called Thomas Francois Burgers tried his own individualist brand of Christianity on the locals but did not impress by his refusal to believe in the literal truth of the Bible.

He was duly expelled from the church and went on to become the South African Republic’s fourth President.

As far as Hanover’s vergers go, the most famous one was Tannie Mollie Kleingeld, who insisted on climbing the stairs to the steeple up to the age of 86. She served for more than 30 years before calling it a day.

What do vergers do, we asked.

“Clean the church, mind the garden, set out tables, wind the clocks and ring the bell on Sunday,” said another verger, Mike Burger. And then he went off to do just that.

We have published a large catalogue of print and ebooks on the Karoo available HERE and HERE or contact julie@karoospace.co.za for prices and courier details.

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