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MissionMuseThe Missionary Museum was constructed in 1855 as a Wesleyan Chapel. In 1894 it was sold to the Baptists who used it as a mission church until the enforcement of the Group Areas Act led to the closure of the church. The museum opened it doors to the public in 1976 and functions as a satellite of the Amathole Museum.

The Missionary Museum strives to represent a truly interdenominational scope; King William's Town being an ideal location for such an institution. From the early 19th century, early missionary activity characterised the area. Between 1856-1859, the first complete edition of the Xhosa bible was printed by the Rev John Appleyard at Mount Coke, situated just outside King William's Town. The latter press as well as the reconstructed Ruthven Press used by John Bennie in 1823 to print the first words in Xhosa, are on display in the museum. Well-known mission stations such as Lovedale, Healdtown and St. Matthews are represented in the exhibition. Significant too, is the fact that the German Baptist movement in South Africa has its origins in King William's Town, and also the work of the Dominican Order in this country.

The Missionary Museum is situated about 5 blocks away from the main museum complex (see Museum Map).

Station of the Cross

An example of the beautiful Stations of the Cross on display in the museum.

The aim of the exhibition is to tell the story of 19th century King William's Town in all its facets, including conflict, acculturation, coexistence and cooperation. This is achieved by utilizing both the history and anthropology collections. The old Eurocentric displays, which omitted important information and ignored certain aesthetic and museological principles, were replaced with a new multi-cultural exhibition. The new approach has important educational implications, promoting an understanding of local history and culture.

* The Introduction Panel concentrates on the events that led to the establishment of King William's Town as well as the centre's early growth. By focussing on the role of, for example, Rev John Brownlee, Col. Harry Smith and Hintsa, it attempts to dispel popular inaccuracies regarding the town's history. Read more: Across the Frontier



The German Settler exhibit highlights aspects of the history of the settlers who immigrated to this area in the 19th century. Their cultural traditions, the influence of the First and Second World wars, land dispossession and contemporary identity formation are also tackled. The display includes a trudelwagen (blockwagon). The above is an image of a trudelwagen during the 1908 Jubilee Celebrations in King William's Town. The wagon was driven by Alwine Salzwedel (pictured on the left with her back to the photographer) and her cattle. Why Alwine and her animals were selected for this honorary position is unfortunately not clear. Read more: German Settler Display


Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives1 pays tribute to local women. The display presents an array of compelling portraits, illustrating the many different ways women have contributed to the shaping of our society, both through their careers and in quiet everyday ways that are rarely recognised today.

The featured biographies include Amelia Alice Elizabeth Ball (of Mrs Ball's Chutney fame), Alice Duna Mamcete Biko (mother to Steve Biko), Katy Izally (local personality, organiser and fundraiser extraordinary), Victoria Nonyamezelo Mxenge (Human Rights lawyer and well-known 'struggle' personality), Sister Mary Mauritia Tiefenboeck (first Prioress of the local Dominican convent) and Nozipho Mina Barbara Mamkwayi Tsotsobe (also known as Sis B, a pioneer female radio announcer).