Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reinet House and the oldest grape vine in South Africa

I really enjoy visiting small town museums.  There is always something interesting to discover in them and no better way to learn more about the history of a place.  Graaff-Reinet has a number of very good small museums but if I had to choose only one to go to I would choose Reinet House. The Graaff-Reinet Museum or “Reinet House” is a former Dutch Reformed Church parsonage and was built in 1812.  It was the home of three ministers prior to 1822, the year in which the Rev. Andrew Murray, from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, became the resident minister.  After his death in 1866 the parsonage was occupied by his son Charles until 1904 after which it was used as a boarding establishment for girls wishing to train as teachers.  It was during this time that the late Miss Helen Murray, a sister of Rev. Charles Murray, named the house “Reinet House”.  In 1956 the Graaff-Reinet Museum was officially opened.
 
 Not all the interesting objects can be found inside the museum though.  In the backyard is a Black Acorn grapevine planted by Charles Murray in 1870 which is said to be the oldest living grape vine in South Africa.  The "trunk" of the vine used to be a lot bigger than now but some years ago a big part of it had to be cut away when it picked up a disease.  It may have lost some of its girth but at least it didn't die and will hopefully be around for many years to come.

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