28 February 2013

March: Making an Entrance

Pride of De Kaap (Bauhinia galpinii) flowering on the the Bell Tower Gate in late summer, 2012. Photo: Alice Notten. 
In 1936 Rhodes Drive was widened and the main entrance to Kirstenbosch was moved from what is now the Visitors Centre entrance to a new position. This Gate was constructed in 1937-38, and a Bell Tower “of rough mountain stone masonry”*(designed by Robert Gwelo Goodman ) was built to commemorate the contribution of Sir Lionel Phillips to the founding and early years of Kirstenbosch. It houses an old ship’s bell that comes from HMS Dominion, one of King Edward VII of England’s battleships that was attached to Third Battle Squadron during the First World War and was scrapped in 1924. The bell was given to Sir Lionel Phillips by a friend who had been a gunnery officer aboard the Dominion. It had hung (and rung) for many years in the grounds of Vergelegen and was donated to Kirstenbosch, along with funds to build a bell tower, by Lady Phillips in 1938. The bell is rung on weekdays to mark the Garden’s working hours.
In 1913, Sir Lionel Phillips initiated the legislation that led to the establishment of Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden. He became Vice-President of the Botanical Society and both he and his wife served on the BotSoc Council.
More about the calendar: click here.
More about the bell tower in an article in the June 1995 edition of Veld & Flora by CB Tucker, click here.
* The Journal of the Botanical Society of South Africa vol 23, p.3, 1937.
The Bell Tower Gate in 1939. Photo: Kirstenbosch Archives.
The Bell Tower in 1938/1939. Photo: Kirstenbosch Archives. 

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