Cookhouse, Middleton Village and Slagtersnek

Cookhouse, Middleton Village and Slagtersnek

All Saints United Church, Middleton, built 1903.

There is a considerable amount of history and heritage in the Eastern Cape. Part of this rich history lies between Cradock and Port Elizabeth along the N10 provincial road. Between Cookhouse and Paterson are a number of monuments and places of interest.

Cookhouse is a small village about 170 kilometers north of Port Elizabeth and was an early settlement established by the 1820 settlers on the farm Roodewaal owned by Frans Johannes van Aardt. The town is said to have got its name in the 1790’s when his wife Susanna used to provide soldiers and travellers with food from ker cookhouse. Also in the 1870’s the Cape Railway was extensively extended and Cookhouse became a major junction.

Close to Cookhouse is a stone cairn commemorating the arrival of Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), born in Blaiklaw, Scotland. He emigrated to South Africa in 1820 along with other Scottish Settlers in an attempt to populate the region as a buffer against the Xhosa. He settled in the Baviaans River Valley. He however left the area for the Cape and ran several newspapers. He returned to London and then became renowned in anti slavery and joined anti Anti-Slavery Society. He published the book, African Sketches  and wrote books of poems. Pringle died in England, however his remains were returned to South Africa and re-interred to the church in the Baviaans Valley.

Further south is the Slagtersnek Memorial. This commemorates the event that took place in 1815, when a Cape Dutch farmer, Frederik Bezuidenhout, refused a summons to answer for his mistreatment of his Khoi and Xhosa labourers. The soldiers sent to apprehend him (mainly black) ended up shooting him when he refused to surrender. This caused an uprising led by his neighbour, Hendrik Prinsloo. A local Commando was sent to put the uprising down, and most chose to surrender with the exception of of a few rebels led by Frederik’s brother, Hans. Hans died fighting the commando. The rebels were captured and five of the rebels were sentenced to death and hanged in public on 9 March 1816 at Van Aardspos, the site of the memorial, erected in 1916. This action caused great bitterness amongst the Boers.

Further south is the small village of Middleton, on the banks of the Fish River about 20 km from Cookhouse. Middleton was established in 1850 as an Anglican Mission Station (Ref; wikipedia). The train station was built in 1879 and now serves as a pub in this little village. The All Saints Church was built in 1903 to serve the congregation. Middleton as well as the pub has accomodation (Manor), camping facilities and is worth a stopover to explore.