The town lost its status to Grahamstown and is today one of the smallest municipalities in Southern Africa.
It is memorable for its many trees, huge wild figs and brilliantly flowering kaffirbooms.
The Anglican St John's church, built in 1837 is a historical monument. It was used as a refuge before it was completed and in 1834 came under determined attack. Women and children sheltering in the church loaded guns while their men held off an army of warriors until relief arrived from Grahamstown. The church was fortified with outer earthen works and was the strong point of a countryside reduced to ruin. Again, in 1846, the church was besieged. It also provided protection for local inhabitants during the war of 1850-53.
One of the first settlers in Bathurst, Thomas Hartley, built a forge and inn in 1821. Burnt down, looted, re-stocked, this inn, The Pig and Whistle, still survives.
The Wesleyan chapel in Bathurst, aslo a historical monument, withstood the siege of 1846 and an attack in 1825.
Bathurst is a convenient starting place for a drive to the horseshoe bend of the Kowie River - an astonishing example of a meandering river. The banks are densely covered with trees and flowering plants. Crane flowers, tecoma, plumbago, aloes and numerous succulents grow in profusion. Cycads, sneezewood, colodendron and kaffirbooms are common. Flowers seen in so many gardens - the pelargonium, gazania, Cape honeysuckle and many others - have their natural home in this area. Phoenix palm trees grow on the flats.
Two kilometers from Bathurst is a vantage point known as Thornridge. From here, Colonel Jacob Cuyler, the man in charge of allocating farms to the settlers, directed them to their future homes. In 1968 a toposcope was built here around a beacon erected in 1859. This toposcope has 57 bronze plates around it indicating where parties of settlers were allocated farms. From here the whole coastline of the Settler Country is visible.
Bathurst is regarded as the pineapple metropolis of Southern Africa. It was here that the first pineapples of the Eastern Cape were cultivated.
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