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Somerset East is a small town that was established in 1825 and its’ cultural and history museum, the Somerset East Museum, is housed in one the first buildings erected in the town.  Land on the slopes of the Boschberg Mountain was given to the Wesleyan missionaries for a chapel and graveyard which was completed in 1828.

Several years later the land, and Chapel, was transferred to the Dutch Reformed Church and was converted to a parsonage. For just over a century the Parsonage served the Dutch Reformed Community and was home to four Ministers. After the last minister, Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr died, the parsonage was sold to his son, who was not particularly invested in the religious aspect of the building.

In 1972, the then owner, K.S Birch converted the building into a museum, it was proclaimed as a provincially aided museum in the same year. A short time later, the building was declared a national monument, and at the town's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1975, the museum was inaugurated.

The Somerset East Museum is an elegant example of a Georgian manor house and depicts the lifestyle of the four Dutch Reformed Church parsons who lived there until 1943. It houses furniture from the end of the nineteenth century as well as the largest collection of original Walter Battiss paintings in the country.

The Museum is not without its own legendary ghost stories, being such and old building alongside a graveyard, and several visitors and staff have reported seeing a tall man in a black suit sitting behind the desk in the study. Others have reported seeing a little boy in a Victorian dress appear in the room where the grave of the infant son of one of the Pastors was buried.

Things to see and do

  • Local Heroes Exhibition
  • Slachter’s Nek Exhibition
  • Grave of Ouma Dora Dotyi Jacobs
  • 19th Century Style furniture & Implements
  • Walter Battiss Collection
  • Mithi Yesixhosa Exhibition


There is a nominal entrance fee, please contact the Museum directly to confirm

Please note the Museum is closed from 14 December to 7 January annually

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