Llandaff Oratory

The Little Church with a Big Heart

The Little Church, Van Reenen is situated halfway between Johannesburg and Durban, on the Van Reenen Pass – a spot most have heard of and have often promised to stop at the next time they drive past and it is highly recommend that you do as it is a worthwhile short stop over when driving this stretch of the N3!

It has been confirmed as the smallest Church in the Southern Hemisphere and is most likely the smallest Roman Catholic Church in the world with only 4 pews. The building is plus or minus 20 brinks long and about 15 wide, with a curved end and was modelled off a part of the Cardiff Cathedral in Wales.

The story goes that a retired magistrate, Maynard Mathew, wanted something to honour and remember his son Llandaff, who died saving eight miners in a coalmine accident at the Burnside Colliery in KwaZulu-Natal on March 19 1925. At first the Mathews wanted a plaque in the Ladysmith Catholic Church to commemorate his son, but because of his stature in those days it was denied.

Charles West-Thomas bought the Church in 1960, the same year it was declared a National Monument.

The Little Church holds a regular service once a month and has a small tea garden which serves light lunches and a gift shop for visitors who stop to view the Church. Couples looking for something different for their wedding ceremony are welcome to book the Church for their special day.

You are in a very “special Church” dedicated to a brave man and loving father, who later became a priest and gave his life to the service of the Lord. So when you read this, remember both of them in your thoughts and prayers and all those who have preserved this wonderful church.

Things to do and see

  • Church Viewing
  • Tea Garden (dog friendly)
  • Gift Shop
  • Wedding Venue
  • Drive Van Reenen's Pass


There is no admission fee, viewing is permitted

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