In 2012 I blogged about the Nativity Play that was held at the parish church that I was a member of way back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. When we all moved from Mayfair we left the church behind, although we do have a tie to the church as my father’s ashes were interred there in 1981 (My mother’s ashes were similarly interred there at the end of October 2019), and we have an open plaque for my mother for when she passes on. (that plaque has now been engraved) The assumption back then being that nothing untoward would happen to the church.
Changing demographics really affected the church over the years but from what I can read it still had an active congregation up till 2016. However, I was posted a link to the Heritage Portal website where somebody had reported illegal work being done in the grounds of the church.
Christ Church Mayfair is one of the oldest churches in Johannesburg and was built in 1897; Johannesburg was only founded in 1886 (or thereabouts) and the church served the mining community in an area known as “Crown Mines”.
Looking at Google Earth imagery shows how the grounds of the church shrunk as more and more development encroaches around it. I recall walking up what was then Crown Reef Road with its tree lined streets and mine houses. The church being at the one end and Hanover Street on the other. It is all but unrecognisable now, and the formerly empty veld and mine ground have really become a warren of Chinese shops, taxi ranks and assorted chaos.
I recognise that progress is inevitable and invariable, and I also recognise that the church is really a relic from the past. Let’s face it, the church is in Mayfair/Fordsburg. It is not in the northern suburbs so is easily overlooked by the heritage followers. The fact that it still survives is somewhat of a miracle.
At the moment we have no further information as to what is going on, or whether the Garden and Wall of Remembrance still exists. The fact that there are cremated ashes there may prevent anybody from doing anything drastic. “In terms of Civil Rights, Cultural and Religious Rights, etc. in our Constitution, no grave may be disturbed or tampered with without due process.”
My brother went to he church in October 2019 to see about my mother’s ashes being placed and from what he heard it appears as if the land/grounds of the church were either sold or leased but the church itself is intact.
As for the Church, it was not an easy place to take photographs in, and these were taken in 2011. I am much better at it nowadays. It was impossible to get the whole building in the shot given how awkward the grounds were.
The Garden and Wall of Remembrance
A wall was built to the left of this this garden where commemorative plaques could be mounted. My father is commemorated on the 3rd plaque from the top next to the blank plaque.
The Roll of Honour for the parish may be found inside it (or at least it was there in 2011)
There is also a commemorative plaque for Harry S. Metcalfe, 3rd Engineer of the Nova Scotia who died on 29 November 1942 when the ship was torpredoed.
The Rectory was somewhat of a Victorian wedding cake of a house, and was home to many a minister and their families. I do not know what it is used for today, by the looks of it the building has been cut off from the church, but it is very hard to say.
That’s it in a nutshell. A place from my past in jeopardy, and the final resting place of my late father.
DRW © 2018 – 2020. Created 20/09/2018, updated 28/10/2019, 24/12/2019