10 Things You Didn't Know About Grahamstown

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Friday, 13th September 2013

"So much has happened in Grahamstown, so much still does. The little city's mood changes as often as its weather. Some days there is no place like it in the whole wide world. On others it is just a dorp, with a decided difference". Emily O'Meara (Grahamstown Reflected, 1995).

Here are a few interesting snippets about our "City of Saints":

1.    Grahamstown was once the largest city in South Africa after Cape Town.
2.    Grahamstown has the first botanical gardens established by the British in the Cape Colony in 1853; “Bots” is the second oldest botanical gardens in South Africa (after Kirstenbosch).
3.    King Lobengula’s (last king of the Ndebele, Zimbabwe) son and grandson are buried in Grahamstown.
4.    The first ring of bells to be installed in Africa was hung in Grahamstown’s Cathedral tower in 1879. The bells, an octave cast by John Warner and Sons in London, were supplied complete with fittings and with a frame of English oak.
5.    Grahamstown’s Anglican Cathedral has the tallest spire in the country
6.    South Africa’s first identified diamond – The Eureka – was authenticated in Grahamstown in 1867.
7.    Rudyard Kipling wrote the inscription for the angel statue in High Street which commemorates the soldiers who died during the Anglo-Boer War.
8.    Grahamstown is the only place where the South African parliament has sat outside of Cape Town - in 1864.
9.    The National Arts Festival held annually in Grahamstown is the 3rd largest festival of its kind in the world.
10.  The oldest fossil land animal, from the Gondwana supercontinent, has been discovered in 2013 outside Grahamstown.  The fossil is a new species of scorpion that lived here 360 million years ago before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.


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