Port Elizabeth – Market Square

Port Elizabeth’s architectural heritage can be traced by taking a walk around the central city Market Square, which features several historic buildings.

The centrepiece of the square is the aesthetically pleasing City Hall, dating from 1858, topped with an attractive clock tower. Also in the square is a replica of the Diaz Cross that commemorates the first European to set foot in Algoa Bay in 1488, when Dutch explorer Bartholomew Diaz stopped over on his way east.

Alongside the city hall is the Prester John Memorial, dedicated to the Portuguese explorers who landed in South Africa.

On the northwest flank of the square is the city’s public library, built in 1835 and originally used as a courthouse. The beautiful building is regarded as an excellent example of Victorian Gothic architecture and is interesting in that its façade was manufactured in England and shipped to Port Elizabeth to be recreated piece by piece.

In front of the library stands a marble statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled in 1903.

Slightly downhill from the square, at the entrance to the harbour, stands the Campanile, containing the biggest carillon of bells in the country. Visitors can climb 204 steps to enjoy the view from the top of this monument, which commemorates the landing of the 1820 settlers

Port Elizabeth History

Port Elizabeth’s rich cultural heritage guarantees history lovers a unique insight into the Eastern Cape’s and the Metro’s diverse and remarkable past.
The nomadic San were the earliest group of indigenous people known to live in the Eastern Cape. The Khoi displaced the San into the mountains and semi-desert, early in the second millennium AD. The forefathers of the Xhosa speaking people arrived on the banks of the Kei River in about 800AD.
While on his epic voyage of discovery searching for a sea route to the East, the Portuguese, Bartolomeu Dias, rounded the “Cabo da Roca” in February 1488 and entered “Baia da Roca” – Cape and Bay of the Rock (now Cape Recife and Algoa Bay). Dias also gave the name “Ilheus Chaos” (Flat Islands) to the Bird Islands. In 1497, Vasco da Gama, successor to Dias, entered Algoa Bay and noted the Bird Islands on his voyage to India. His charts gave Cape Recife it’s name – “Cabo do Arricife” – Cape of the Reef. The “Bay” was later named “Baia de Lagoa”, by navigator and cartographer Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo in 1576, which referred to the lagoon situated at the mouth of the Baakens River.

By the middle of the 18th century, the number of ships passing the “Bay” had increased and occasionally survivors of the shipwrecks were given hospitality by Dutch Trekboers (farmers) who had trekked from the Cape in search of good farmland.

 At the end of 1799 the English, fearing that the French would render military assistance to the Graaff Reinet rebels, decided to construct Fort Frederick, overlooking the mouth of the Baakens River as a permanent military post.
4 000 British Settlers arrived by sea in 1820, to become the first permanent British residents in the Albany District. On 6 June 1820, Sir Rufane Donkin, Acting Governor of the Cape Colony at the time, named the new sea port in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth.
Before the up-country gold and diamond booms, PE developed as one of the major commercial cities in SA, trading in wool, mohair and ostrich feathers. As a result, the harbour became a bustling port. People traveled to the city in search of trade and labour opportunities.

Early Port Elizabeth was characterized by the settlement of European, Cape Malay and immigrant communities. The diverse community lived together according to economic and social status, rather than on an ethnic basis. Some folk were already residing in New Brighton since 1903. However, when the Group Areas Act was legislated in 1960, this resulted in forced relocation under the “apartheid law” among the non-white population and the so-called townships came into being.
Port Elizabeth was the first city in SA to establish a fully integrated, democratic local authority and has long been a leader in the political transformation of the country.

 Presently, Port Elizabeth is fondly referred to as “Ibhayi” by Xhosa speakers, “Die Baai” by Afrikaners and “The Bay” by English speakers.

Bedford Garden Festival 2009

We at Homeleigh Halt Guest House can strongly recommend an outing to the annual Bedford Garden and Flower Festival, and can recommend a good 5 day tour at a reasonable price.

Join Deon Spies from Aloe-Drift Safaris on a magnificent well organised and well informed tour, guaranteed to scintillate the senses.

This magnificent tour is being offered at a very special price…..per person sharing. Please contact us for more details.

Combine this with a Homeleigh Halt special and you have yourself a dream holiday at an affordable price.

Spend a few days in Port Elizabeth with us at Homeleigh Halt, taking in the sights, and sounds of surf and turf. Go on an ocean safari or a Wednesday evening sail with the ABYC. We know someone who can arrange a social Wednesday sail for you! Weather permitting.

Take a day trip to the Addo Elephant  National Park .

BEDFORD – Eastern Cape Province

The charming, picturesque Settler village of Bedford, cradled at the foot of the Kagaberg and regarded as the “jewel” of the Eastern Cape will again be opening its beautiful gardens to the public during its annual Garden Festival.
The Country Fair with the various stall of Deli items, biltong, gardenalia, bath & body and culinary products, hand-crafted gifts, jewellery, fresh produce, potted lavenders and other herbs as well as loads of interesting and delicious goodies are just some of the items that will be on sale.
Mix with the locals over a traditional braai and a cold beer or glass of wine. Teas & Coffees with a range of cakes will also be available.

View fine art of wild-life artist Frans Mulder in the stables at De Kleine Maastrom and local artist David Khoury at the Art & Craft Gallery in town.

Bedford is renowned for its beautiful heritage roses. For the avid gardener, there will a wide variety of Heritage Rose cultivars available for purchas such as Mutabalis – with its multi-coloured pink to apricot flowers and the dark pink Zepherine Drouhin.

For historical buffs, there’s a wealth of history to explore in the area. The churches and many of the buildings and houses are wonderful examples of early architecture.

Spring comes early to this area of the Eastern Cape and October is the prime month for viewing the unique landscaping and the wonderfully-picturesque settings of the extensive farm and town gardens. Visitors can stroll through masses of roses, daylilies, hydrangeas and hellebores and other plant varieties or wander across emerald green lawns to discover some hidden garden treasure – a water feature or a fascinating plant. There are more than 24 splendid town and farm gardens to choose from.