Carnarvon’s early beginnings can be traced back to the granting of grazing rights by the Cape Government to Pieter Hugo in 1758, although it is known that San people had been in the area long before this.
The first community to permanently settle here was a Xhosa group, and in 1839 the Cape Governor granted land to the amaXhosa, including the farms of Schietfontein, Harmsfontein and Rhenosterpoort. Before the end of that year 110 Xhosa families had settled here.
In the year 1847, the Reverend C.W. Alheit started his ministry in Schietfontein area. He originally pitched his tent near the site on which the first parsonage was to be erected in the 1850s (it has recently been restored and serves as the Information Centre).
The Rhenish Mission (1847-1943) provided school education for the amaXhosa settlement, eventually leading to the establishment of the Harmsfontein village in 1860.
Harmsfontein was renamed Carnarvon in 1874 after Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon. He was a British under-secretary for the colonies who, in the 1870s, unsuccessfully endeavoured to confer self-government on South Africa.
Lekker Links
Google Map of Carnarvon
Northern Cape Tourism Authority
Holiday in Kimberley & the Northern Cape
Carnarvon’s website Northern Cape province
Barkly West, Calvinia, Carnarvon, Colesberg, De Aar, Kimberley, Kuruman, Port Nolloth, Prieska, Springbok, Upington.
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Tourism Centre; Nooitgedacht glaciated pavement engravings
Augrabies Falls National Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Namakwa (Namaqua) National Park
Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Tankwa Karoo National Park
Mokala National Park
The centre of Carnarvon town bears witness to the originating years of the Rhenish Mission. The most prominent architectural features are the restored parsonage (1850s) now restored as the Information Centre; the church (1858) and the clocktower (1899); the old school (1871), and the current parsonage (1912).
This area is well known for the corbelled houses built by the Trekboers between 1811 and 1815.
The roofs of these small domed houses were built of flat stones for lack of wood for roof trusses. The cement was a mixture of chaff and soil mixed with water and kneaded to the correct texture. Floors were of smeared earth coloured a rich red by a mixture of fat and oxblood polished with a smooth stone.
The annual ‘Fly-Inn’ each June attracts microlight and other light aircraft from all over the country.

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