Visit Macrorie House

2010-03-16 00:00

IN today’s Witness Pietermaritzburg Passport Project profile, we take a closer look at Macrorie House Museum, at 11 Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street, Pietermaritzburg.

Built in about 1860 and described, in 1867, as “the finest and best built family house in the city”, it was rented in 1870 by the new Bishop of Pietermaritzburg William Kenneth Macrorie. He renamed the house South Hill and slowly enlarged and improved the building in the 25 years the family owned it.

Macrorie came to Pietermaritzburg following the controversial ­excommunication of the first Bishop of Natal, John William Colenso, whose approach to missionary practice and Biblical scholarship had brought him into conflict with the Anglican Church authorities. In the schism that resulted, some Anglicans remained loyal to Bishop Colenso, who used St Peter’s as his cathedral, but the majority of parishes in the province went over to Bishop Macrorie, who constituted St Saviour’s as his cathedral in 1877. The diocese was technically reunited in 1893 under Macrorie’s successor, who again became Bishop of Natal.

Among the attractions at the museum is a doll’s house created by Stephanie de Villiers, who lived in Ladysmith in the seventies. She now lives in the United Kingdom. The doll’s house has an attic, complete with mice, a basement kitchen and three floors of living and bedrooms furnished down to the last detail, including a chess set in the study and a child’s skates in a bedroom.

The museum also has a wooden washing machine dating from 1879 which was owned by the Green family, the original owners of Sweetwaters farm, as well as photographs of the family and some interesting stories of their history.

Macrorie House Museum is open on Mondays from 10 am to 2 pm and from Tuesday to Friday between 9 am and 1 pm. Group tours are welcome. Phone 033 394 2161. Admission is R5 for adults, R3 for children and free for senior citizens. Admission is free for all visitors on Fridays.

MACRORIE House Museum is one of seven organisations taking part in this year’s Witness Pietermaritzburg Museum Passport Project — a scheme that encourages pupils to visit the Natal Museum in Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street, PMB Tourism, the Voortrekker/Msunduzi Museum in Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street, Macrorie House Museum in Jabu Ndlovu Street, the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street (Commercial Road), Comrades House in Connaught Road and The Old Prison in Burger Street, over a two-month period.

Pupils each get a ‘museum passport’ which is stamped by the museum when they visit. They can visit the participating venues either with their schools or individually, and should book a time to tour the museums before they arrive. Please note: parents cannot come to the museums to get stamps for their children.

The school with the most stamped entries will win a photocopier sponsored by Nashua Maritzburg and two lucky pupils will win notebook computers sponsored by The Witness. There are also a host of other smaller prizes, including iPods, MP3 Players and stationery packs to be won by both schools and pupils who complete the project.

The closing date for entries is April 12, and winners will be drawn shortly after the competition closes. For more information about the project contact any one of the participating organisations.

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