Haarlem, an isolated country hamlet just off the R62, is a unique cultural heritage experience dating back to the 18 th century.
One cannot avoid feeling the strong presence of past history in this small isolated settlement, with very little contemporary influence.
Situated just off the R62 between Avontuur and Misgund and nestled between the Witteberg and the Kouga mountain range in the Langkloof valley, Haarlem is a scenic paradise with its mountains, historic dwellings, the beautiful Lutheran church and its large agricultural erven and farms.
Small scale farmers can still be seen tilling their lands with animal drawn implements. Cows, horses and donkeys roam the gravel roads freely when not in use. One cannot but help feeling a sense of freedom, peace and tranquillity that one only can only experience away from the noise, traffic and stress associated with big city life.
A few hours spent wandering or cycling around Haarlem and its scenic surroundings, is a cultural experience and therapy that is sure to de tox and refresh the mind. Stay overnight and enjoy the colourful sunsets and clear starry skies on a clear night, undimmed by bright city lights.
The following information was extracted from a brochure compiled by Mr. Bryce Henderson it is available as a download at the bottom of the page.
Before 1969 only Khoi and San tribes lived in the area, this is evident due to the rock painting found in the mountains around Haarlem's borders.
Simon van der Stel of 'The Dutch East India Company' sent a contingent of 21 men, who were the first whites, led by Isaac Schrijver from the Cape to the Langkloof to search for the Khoi Tribe – The Inkwas. Records indicate that white settlers arrived and were given title to land from 1762. (One unique family is the Zondaghs, whom weren't the first white settlers but have owned their farm 'Avontuur' continuously since 1765.)
The origins of Haarlem, according to records, indicate that it was established on a farm called “Welgelegen'. This was during the time when the British Colonial government was awarding grants of land 'on perpetual quadrant'. Michael Heyns was one of the first recorded owners in 1821. The Welgelegen farm spanned the Groot Rivier to the North West of Haarlem and was approximately 2985 Morgen, about 1192 ha. (A morgen was a unit of measurement of land in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the Dutch colonies, including South Africa and Taiwan. The size of a morgen varies from 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 acres, which equals approximately 0.2 to 1 ha.)
Welgelegen and its surrounding land was then transferred to G.E Heyns and J.C Taute in 1844. In the year 1856 an, initially, white township was established and laid out by J.C Taute as it can be seen today.
Missionary work was done here by a congregational minister. It is rumoured that the town of Haarlem was named by homesick Dutch settlers after the town in Amsterdam, Holland.
The rural village of Haarlem is another example of a village that had its roots as a mission station. In their search for a central educational home for the Berlin Missionary Society, led by Reverend Friedrich Prietsh, who was stationed at Amalienstein in the Klein Karoo. Haarlem was deemed fit for a new mission station where missionaries' and their staff's children could receive education together with the local existing indigenous community.
In 1860 the Welgelegen settlement was bought by the Berlin Missionary Society with money donated by the Schmidt fund. Freidrich Prietsch from Anhalt, was moved there and supported by the Schmidt fund. He tried to rename the place Anhalt-Schmidt, but the village itself remained known as Haarlem. It never grew very large and its houses, several of them dating from c1860, stand wide apart and are set amidst pleasant greenery.
Over time, people from Germany, Scotland and Ireland arrived in the Langkloof, some at first working as labourers on neighbouring farms and later settled in Haarlem, leasing land for subsistence farming. One of these new arrivals was the first mission manager, Heinrich Christopher Markotter (1870), he worked in Haarlem for 50 years until he was later transferred as a missionary to Stutteheim.
After establishing the mission even people other than missionaries and their families were drawn to the town, these included teachers and freed slaves. Haarlem became an integrated community, with a population of approximately 2376 people today (According to the 2011 census). It has a number of historic buildings including an old church and minister's house. The economic base of this village is still small scale horticulture.
Low input agricultural practices are used, ploughs are horse drawn and other work is still done by hand.
Things to do know about Haarlem
- The current church building is actually the third church
- The church building was declared a national monument on 28 May 1978
- Heindrich Christoph Markotter, the father of the famous South African rugby figure, Oubaas Mark, was sent out to be a farm manager. He worked in Haarlem for 50 years before he was called to Stutterheim as a missionary.
- Theopilus Groenewald was the principal of the first school in Anhalt-Schmidt that was opened in 1862
- Haarlem was declared a coloured area in 1963 (Group Areas Act)
- The new church clock was inaugurated on Sunday, 2 September 1979
- The congregation celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2010
- The Lutheran church cost $1680 at the time and was all paid for by the mission Station.
- The roads between the houses cannot be tarred as the horse drawn ploughs are dragged between Erven on tyres.
Some of the features of Haarlem
Lutheran Mission Church
For the first five years Prietsch held hisvservices in a small and unsuitable building, which in 1865 was replaced with a larger one which was also used as a school and is still standing.
In 1876 bad health obliged Prietsch to return to Germany. He was succeeded by Howe, who started building the present church the following year, which was completed in 1880. It is one of the most picturesque of the mission churches, and represents the perfect marriage of Gothic and Revival forms with the local vernacular.
It is to this day the best preserves and least altered.
The body of the church has the plan of a Latin cross, with a thatch roof and straight-end gables. The tall, slender gothic windows and diagonal buttresses on all sides give the church a magical appearance. At the head of the longer extension of the cross stands a tower going up three storeys.
The church has yellow walls with window surrounds, cills and corners painted white. It stands firm and mighty on a stone terrace levelling out the sloping ground towards the street.
The interior in all its grandeur still contains most of its original furniture, including stinkwood and yellow wood pews; a pulpit attached to the front corner and the organ, dating back to 1882, made by Stettin Grunberg.
The vaulted ceiling and floors are still of their original yellowwood construction.
The church was declared a national monument on 26 May 1978 and celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2010. (Hans Fransen)
Meaning residence of a vicar (representative, deputy or substitute). Otherwise known as the School Masters
Dwelling, as per Hans Fransen's book titled; “old buildings of the cape”. The house is situated diagonally opposite the old school. It features a square pedimented gable with built up sides. It has a long wing to the back and once featured a formal garden to the front.
Two water powered mills used for wheat. They are unique as they were built in series, thus fed by a single stream water source.
The first was built in 1865 and the second in 1885 by Hendrik Beneke.
The mills were functioning until the 1930's. Today the mills stand in ruin, the original wheel still in place, although there are plans for the wheel to be moved to the George museum until a suitable place can be built in Haarlem itself.
Separated from the church by an open area is an old school, in all probability the building that was erected in 1865 and served temporarily as a church. It is rectangular with later additions at right angles – and has pointed windows and door. The floors are of Yellowwood, but the flat ceiling is a later alteration, the original building had open rafters.
Stable next to Afsaal Farm
Now owned by Steve Bayman a retired sea captain converted the house from a stable. Restored by Gary Olivier to a point, Steve wished to complete the restoration himself. Original yellow wood floors and ceilings are still in existence.
The cellar at the end of the new wing was added circa 1896. It is rumoured the cellar was used to hold prisoners, the magistrate used to come to Uniondale once a week. The Police would collect the prisoner on horse and the prisoner would have to run behind the horse to the court, until a motorbike and cart was used.
Prisoners were mainly locked up for stock theft. (As told by an old Haarlemer)
Gary and Ronalee Olivier have meticulously restored three buildings on their farm. Their personal home, a once commercial building, now a cottage and another cottage. The original title deed from their cottage stated in 1834 that it was to no longer be used as a commercial building by the new owner.
Experts can confirm that it was a commercial building due to the unfinished nature of the beams and the doors opening to the road, it also seems that the rafters were used as storage spaces.
One of the first houses built in Haarlem, dating back to 1890 is located at 81 Berg Street. Constructed from stone.
All elongated thatched houses of a type peculiar to the Langkloof region. One stands opposite the church with an iron roof and clipped gables, and another next to the School masters dwelling, as well as others in the streets running down from where the school is.
Pre Berlin Missionary Society houses were naturally made from stone.
Once the missionary society has settled, houses were erected from sun baked clay bricks. A High School was implemented in 1989. There is evidence that some of the earliest villagers' houses may have been 'traditional' wattle-and-daub, but the missionaries were encouraged to erect modest but solid plastered and thatched rectangular houses on the 'Cape Dutch' model, of which long rows (from additions) characterised the Cape missions.