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Journal for the Study of Religion

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3027
versión impresa ISSN 1011-7601


FRESCURA, Franco. Symbolic Dimensions of 19th Century Dutch Colonial Settlement at the Cape of Good Hope. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2017, vol.30, n.2, pp.297-329. ISSN 2413-3027.

During the 19th century the Dutch Reformed Church became a major agent in promoting the spread of Dutch settlement into the southern African interior. After 1841 it began to set out its villages according to a standard plan, known as the kerkplaats, which made use of a central nachtmaal plein, surrounded by residential stands. Key plots were allocated for the village church, a residence for the pastor and a Drostdy for the Resident Magistrate. The remaining stands were then auctioned off to parishioners to fund the construction of the church, and for over a century these settlements remained at the heart of Dutch, later Afrikaner, cultural, political and social life. The design of the first kerkplaats was probably owed to Willem Hertzog, Deputy Surveyor General of the Cape, who was also prominent in the Craft of Freemasonry, and there are strong indications that his plan was based upon an idealized reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon, also used by Freemasons in their planning of Masonic lodges. It appears likely, therefore, that throughout the 19th century the Masonic movement exerted a powerful influence in the affairs of the Dutch Reformed Church that was only broken off for political reasons in 1962. This paper examines the historical origins of Dutch colonial settlement in southern Africa during the 19th century, and posits that its roots lie in Masonic ideals commonly circulating in colonial society of that time.

Palabras clave : Dutch colonial villages; kerkplaats; nachtmaal; Freemasonry; architecture; town planning; religious symbolism.

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