DECEMBER HOLIDAY (3): A Visit to Redelinghuys

Our December holiday is long forgotten – so much has happened in the meantime – but it’s always nice to look back and remember the wonderful time we had on the West Coast of South Africa.

It is no secret that we have a special place in our hearts for small towns. While camping in the small coastal town (Elands Bay), one morning we decided to drive to Redelinghuys – a very small village with a population of only about 600.

Redelinghuys is only 30km (18 miles) from Elands Bay. While it was foggy and cool at our campsite, Redelinghuys was sunny and warm … amazing how just a few kilometers inland can make such a big difference!

The main reason for our visit to Redelinghuys was to visit the church in town. We were last here in 2017 and were impressed with the beautiful building.

Dutch Reformed Church in Redelinghuys (photo taken in 2017)

However, in April 2019, the 92-year-old Dutch Reformed Church was destroyed in a fire. Initially, we thought that only part of the church had burned down, but it was sad to see that most of the building was actually in ruins.

Front and back of the church after it was destroyed in the fire

Sad to see the once beautiful church building like this

The Dutch Reformed Church was founded in 1906, the cornerstone laid in 1918 and the church was officially opened in 1927. It is unclear whether the church will be rebuilt and we have heard from the local residents that services are currently held in the Church Hall which is still intact.

The burned down church and church bell

Sometimes, amidst the sadness, one must also look at the positive. So, it was great to see that the church grounds were still kept in good condition – the grass was green and the entrance to the church neat. I suppose one can still be proud of one’s surroundings …even under such sad circumstances.

Entrance to the church

The pretty Periwinkle flower at the church entrance

After our visit to the church grounds, we drove up and down the few streets in this quaint and charming town. Redelinghuys is known as the potato capital of the Sandveld. The village is actually surrounded by citrus, grape and potato farms. From July to October, this part of the world is a floral tapestry that attracts hikers and nature lovers.

The streets of Redelinghuys

We love the old houses with predominantly Victorian architecture, most of which are still in very good condition. It seems many city dwellers come to this town to escape the madness – and some modern houses are now being built here too.

One of the older houses in the village

Sandveld Dorpshuys, an old house converted into a B&B

Another attraction is the lovely wall art on some of the houses. I liked the one with swans on the pond and the tree (which looks almost real).

Wall art

Wall art

Wall art

We parked our car under a tree in the shade to take a walk through the streets. On our walk, we met only a few people. Two policemen (who were also walking up and down the streets) and some of the locals sitting on benches under a tree. On one street corner we found a small shop where you can buy some necessities over the counter.

A small corner shop

We bought two cold drinks

Locals enjoying the shade of a tree

A little further we came to a larger shop and one petrol pump. So, don’t be fooled, you actually have a choice between two shops in this small village.

Another shop and petrol pump

There are many trees that provide shade from the fierce sun

More old charm houses

A newly built and more modern house

Before we left, we turned back down the street where the church is located to take one last look at it. I think the residents of Redelinghuys must miss their beautiful church.

One last look at the church

Small towns tend to be run down, but it was heartwarming to see how clean and tidy Redelinghuys was. Although our hearts were aching for the burned-out church building, it is with a light heart that we leave Redelinghuys after seeing that its residents are still taking care of this little village.

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29 thoughts on “DECEMBER HOLIDAY (3): A Visit to Redelinghuys

  1. I’m with you Corna, Sladja and I love visiting small towns and villages too. Indeed that’s what we’ve been doing here on Naxos Island over the last 6 weeks or so. They are nearly always intimate experiences and Redelinghuys seems no different. If I had a Euro for every “church burnt down” story I’ve heard about I’d be a far richer man than I am now. What a pity that it’s unclear whether or not it’ll be rebuilt to its former glory. But also great that services continue in the hall. Your photos show how spotless the place is and what trees and flowers there are look beautiful, along with the murals. A cosy piece Corna, thanks for putting this place on my radar.

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    1. Yes, there is definitely a charm to small towns (and the locals who are always ready to strike up a conversation). This church was not big, but it was certainly one of the most beautiful I have ever seen – I feel for the residents who lost their beautiful church building. As we drove out of the village, Berto and I looked at each other and said almost at the same time: “We wouldn’t mind staying here” …
      Oh, and I hope the weather in Naxos Island is in your favour – enjoy!

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    1. I remember when we visited this church in 2017 we talked about how lovely it was. So, it was sad to see it now after the fire. And you are spot on with your comment, it seems that this has not held the community back and they are still taking good care of their village.

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  2. Interesting, your Victorian architecture is completely different than ours. Funny how one word brings up certain expectations, as if everywhere will be the same. So sad about the historic church, now in ruins. Maggie

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    1. Yes, it is quite surprising how the same building style looks different in other parts of the world – this is something we have also noticed. I don’t think the community has the funds to rebuild the church … and that’s a shame, because it was such a beautiful building.

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  3. Very sad about that lovely church. I hope in time they will be able to rebuild. The wall art is nice. I like the swans too and also the one with a black cat..of course. Fanta and Coca Cola were drinks of my childhood. Grant was saying how the taste of Coca Cola has changed over the years. I would still recognise the old taste but it has been a long time…!

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    1. Yes, I also hope they will be able to rebuild the church … however, I don’t think they have the funds (unless some rich benefactor maybe helps). I’ve always liked Fanta, but it doesn’t taste like I remember from my childhood either. The little bottles were cute (we don’t get them like that in the bigger stores in cities) 🙂.

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  4. Agreed, Corna, small town charm is the best. We love visiting the small villages in France, and other locations too. Redelinghuys is delightful with its murals, flowers and pretty houses. It’s sad about the church though; thankfully the grounds are still well maintained.

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    1. The small villages in France that I have seen on your blog are beautiful – we would love to see them one day. I was so happy to see how beautiful and clean Redelinghuys looked … many people thought that after the church burnt down, the village would fall into disrepair, but fortunately the residents proved everyone wrong!

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  5. What a lovely little place, Corna 🙂 I love visiting tiny towns whenever we travel—some of which might even require multiple forms of transportation, and maybe even a hike, to reach—are so small, they’re barely a blip on the map. I am not saying they’re so under the radar that you have no chance of actually finding them, but their size and general lack of tourists—often held in check by their remote locales—can make them tricky to visit. But once you get there, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the trek out to these beauties sooner.

    One of my personal favourite places that I’ve visited was Santa Magdalena – a little mountainous village in the Dolomites with a population of 400 or so, flanked by jagged, snow-capped peaks and green rolling hills. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. I’m glad to hear that so many bloggers love the smaller towns! We would like to go back to Redelinghuys one day during spring to do some of the walks in that area (and the fact that there won’t be many other tourists is the draw card for us) 🙂. I just googled Santa Magdalena and it looks like a beautiful place to visit! Hope your week is going well Aiva.

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    1. Yeah, another small town lover! The burned down church was a sad sight, but I have to add that the biggest surprise for me was how beautiful and clean Redelinghuys was during our visit – just tells me the community is still very proud of their little village.

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  6. Such a shame to see that church so badly damaged. I do hope they manage to rebuild it in some form, as I’m sure the villagers miss it despite having the use of the church hall.
    How is Berto doing now – still improving, I hope?

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    1. Ai, dit was vir my baie hartseer om die kerk so te sien … toe ons dit in 2017 gesien het, het ons gedink dis regtig ‘n mooi gebou 😔. Maar soos ek in van die kommentaar gese het, ons was heerlik verras met hoe mooi en skoon Redelinghuys was – dis altyd lekker om ‘n klein dorpie in so ‘n mooi toestand te sien.

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  7. So sad and such a pity that the Dutch Reformed Church was destroyed in a fire. Thankfully this quaint little town still have so much to show, thank you Corna for sharing the positivity too, it is refreshing to read and see the preservasion and beauty of this little town.

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    1. Yes, it is sad about the church – it was such a beautiful building. But at the same time we were absolutely surprised with how clean and tidy Redelinghuys is – it’s wonderful when residents show so much pride in their village. I always tend to look for positive things, otherwise the negative (and sadness) can so easily overwhelm one. Enjoy the rest of your week Henrietta – it’s always nice to chat with you 🌻.

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    1. Yes, it’s a shame about the church – was such a beautiful building. The horse is quite original, isn’t it? It’s a really lovely town (with residents who are obviously proud of their little village).

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    1. And it was such a beautiful church. The plots of the houses are so big – just think what delicious vegetable gardens one could plant here! Absolutely, we wouldn’t mind staying in such a small place either!

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