- King William's Town
King William's Town, Oos-Kaap
- Winkels & Dienste (21)
King Williams Town, renamed Qonce in February 2021, is a small historical town less than an hours’ drive from East London in the Amatola Region. Along with Grahamstown, this little town is considered one of the most interesting to visit in the region due to its distinct history and part British, part German colonial heritage.
Qonce is famous for its European architecture from beautiful stone buildings, many of which date back to the Frontier wars, to historical churches and museums – the Natural History Museum houses the body of Huberta the hippo who walked some 1500 kilometres across KwaZulu Natal to the Eastern Cape in the early 1900’s.
Being a small town, its’ heritage value stands out, and it is easy to walk around which is a great way to explore its many hidden gems such as the old post office and station, the town hall, the public library and the old military hospital. Qonce is also associated with political unrest during the apartheid era and is closely tied to Steve Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness movement, whose grave is just outside Ginsberg and is now a Garden of Remembrance.
Other activities, beside churches and old buildings, includes hiking trails, fishing, bird watching and watersports on Maden and Rooikrans Dams. Qonce is also close enough to East London to enjoy some time beach time!
During Spring time, the town is particularly lovely, when the blue and mauve jacarandas complement the bright colours of many other types of flowering trees which line the streets.
Accommodation in the vicinity includes B&B’s, Guest Houses, Hotels and self-catering cottages.
Things to do and see
- Amathole Museum
- Holy Trinity Church
- St Andrews Presbyterian Church
- War Memorial
- Wesleyan Chapel / Missionary Museum
- Old Natural History Museum
- Childrens Cemetery
- Amathole Hiking Trail
- Pirie Forest Hiking Trail
- Maden Dam
- Steve Biko Garden of Remembrance
- King Williams Town Golf Course
Qonce receives approximately 600 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during Summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 15˚C and 28˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 6˚C and 22˚C.
There are daily flights into East London Airport, approximately 55 Km away via the R346. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
After the destruction of a mission station along the banks of the Buffalo River in 1834, Sir Benjamin D’Urban, governor of the Cape Colony, declared the establishment of a town named after King William IV of England upon reconstruction of the mission station built in 1826. The town was established as the capital of the Province Queen Adelaide, stretching between the Kei and Keiskamma Rivers.
D’Urban’s scheme did not, however, succeed and the territory was handed back to the Xhosa in 1836. During the course of the War of the Axe (1846-1847) the town was re-established by the new governor, Sir Harry Smith. From this date King William’s Town slowly grew and prospered as the administrative, military, economic and educational centre of British Kaffraria.
The town was declared a royal borough of British Kaffraria in 1861 and was incorporated into the Cape Province in 1866.
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