Beaufort West Museum
Long before Beaufort West was founded, the region was inhabited by the Hottentot (Khoi) and the San people. During the 1700’s the first European farmers moved to this area when feudal farms were granted to them. Although they also farmed with other produce they were mainly stock-farmers who were moving from the Cape into the rural country to find grazing for their stock. From 1795 small groups of Xhosas also began to settle in the area.
Our town, Beaufort West, was founded on the farm, Hooyvlakte, in 1818. At that stage the farm belonged to Abraham de Clerq. This farm was chosen to establish a town on due to its situation close to the Nieuweveld mountains and also because it was well-watered. On 3 February 1837 Beaufort was granted municipal government and it was proclaimed the first municipality in South Africa.
At first the town was only known as Beaufort. Lord Charles Somerset, at the time the governor of the Cape Colony, named the town Beaufort in honour of his father, the 5th Duke of Beaufort
The old town hall was built in 1865 and housed the municipal offices. During the Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902 this building was used as a hospital. Today it houses the Chris Barnard Exhibition which forms part of the local museum.
Our town also has its own flag and coat of arms with the motto Festina Lente, which means Slowly but surely.
For many years Beaufort West Museum was an informal museum which consisted of two rooms and was established in 1939.It was opened on Friday and Saturday nights for visitors. On 1 April 1977 it became a provincial government aided museum. Within a few years it was extended to the old Dutch Reformed parsonage in which world renowned heart surgeon lived and the old town hall of the town. The museum is still housed in these three buildings.
The uniqueness of the Beaufort West Museum lies in the fact that it houses the Chris Barnard Original collection. Rev Adam Barnard, father of the world famous heart surgeon Prof Chris Barnard, served the community as a missionary and he and his family lived in the rectory next to the Dutch Reformed Mission Church. Here, in the rectory Professor Christiaan Neethling Barnard was born on November 8, 1922. Today the house has been restored and furnished as in the time of the Barnard’
The old town hall was built in 1865 and housed the municipal offices and was the first Town Hall in The Karoo build and taken in use in1866.The Building was designed by James Bisset during the Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902 this building was used as a hospital. Today it houses the Chris Barnard Exhibition, The Beaufort West Pictorial Exhibition, Professor Chris Barnard Family Life exhibition and the Napoleonic Relics, personal silverware which was a gift from the city of Paris for him to use on St Helena where he was banned.
The Mission Church was built in 1871-1872 under the supervision of Reverend Teske .It is the church where Dr Barnard’s father served as a missionary to the community. Currently this magnificent building host panels of exhibition, that explains of how the Coloured Community lived and how they were segregated and later forcefully removed in the 60s. Also a plague honoring one of the legends who died in the SS Mendi, Isaac Dyobha for serving a congregational Church in Beaufort West is put on display.
The Parsonage is the house in which Professor Barnard and his siblings were born. Today the parsonage has been restored and furnished as in the time of the Barnard’s. A panel exhibition that tell stories of all reverends who served in this Church. The late Professor Barnard’s ashes were also buried in the old parsonage garden and his graveside can also be viewed