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Grace Chapel

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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In 1857 some 2,300 soldiers of the British-German Legion were brought to British Kaffraria as part of a settlement scheme originally devised by Sir George Grey.

When the initial arrangements were made, one chaplain was promised for every 1000 men but, when the final conditions were drawn up, nothing more was said about a chaplain.

Indeed Bishop Cotterill found, on his arrival in Grahamstown, that there were no clergymen at all to care for the German settlements along the Buffalo River. He responded to this need by appointing a resident clergyman to be stationed at Panmure.

The man was Rodolph von Hube, a German-speaking Pole, became the resident Church of England missionary at Panmure from August 1857 to April 1862.

He arrived in South Africa in May 1857, was ordained a deacon on 7 June that year and became a priest on 3 June 1860.

By mid-March 1859, he had opened his Grace Chapel, situated on the corner of what is today Fleet and Station Streets, with its cemetery behind the Lock Street gaol. He immediately commenced with Sunday School, while a day school came into operation in April 1859.

Reverend Von Hube was not immediately replaced when he left East London in 1862 and so his Grace Chapel became no more than an outstation of St Peter's Church on the West Bank.

When a railway line to Queenstown was constructed in 1873, however, and its terminus was placed at Panmure, the business sector of the town slowly relocated across the river.

By 1880, therefore, a thriving parish was taking root. Grace Chapel was now too small and a new Anglican Church was built, to be known at St John's.

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