Serenity coupled with the smell of candle wax in the Little Church
It was on a particularly cold and blustery winter day during the school holidays that I found myself travelling along the N3 towards Pietermaritzburg. Rather than stopping at one of the more commercial petro ports, I managed to persuade my family to visit the smallest church in the southern hemisphere, commonly known as The Little Church, in Van Reenen.
After some initial grumblings from the children who find it hard to resist the lure of fast food, we took the turnoff at the top of the Van Reenen’s Pass. They were soon entranced! There a wedding (or perhaps renewal of vows?) in progress, with guests braving the cold weather outside. All their discomfit appeared to be soon forgotten when the happy couple emerged, glowing!
Whilst the wedding as wrapping up, we went to the The Little Church Tea Garden and Gift Shoppe. This cannot be missed and it is very difficult to leave without buying anything or sampling what many claim to be the finest chocolate cake….ever!
By this stage the wedding was over and we were able to escape the cold and entered the Little Church. Peace, quiet and the smell of candle wax were entrancing. Weak winter sunlight flickered through the stained glass. Even the children were captivated.
For those of you who are interested in the facts, this petite building is a national monument and can only accommodate eight parishioners. The church is called the Llandaff Oratory and was built by Maynard Mathews as a memorial to his son, Llandaff Mathews, who died rescuing eight miners in a mining accident on 19 March 1925. The eight seats in the church represent the miners who were rescued. The church is based on a design of the Cardiff Cathedral in Wales, although greatly diminished in size.
The oratory is in active use by a small portion of the Van Reenen community. And, many passers-by have stumbled across the church as they drive from Reef to Sea for refreshment at the Little Church Tea Garden and Gift Shoppe. (Article and Photographs by Rosemary Hall @RoseHallZA)