Philippolis 1822

The first settlement in the Free State


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Buildings and Artifacts:


Adam Kok's House (1843)

Tel: 051 773 0050
Claimed to be the oldest surviving building in Philippolis, this house, which is thought to have been the residence of Adam Kok III, has 650-mm-thick walls.


Overlooking the town, from a vantage point on top of a small hill, are two of the three naval cannon originally presented  by the Cape colonial government to a Griqua chief in the 1840s. Still in working condition, the cannon are fired during the town’s annual Witblits festival in April. The cannon may have been used during the wars between the Boers, the Griquas and the Basotho. They are listed in an 1861 inventory of Adam Kok III, who, with some 5000 of his Griqua people, soon afterwards began their three-year trek to what was then East Griqualand, with towns such as Kokstad.


The main cemetary in the town is claimed as one of the most interesting in the Free State. Its graves include those of Griquas, English soldiers, members of the Jewish community, and a Free State President.

Emily Hobhouse Memorial

The Emily Hobhouse Memorial (1860-1926) commemorates this English woman, who strove to improve the conditions in the Anglo-Boer War concentration camps. After the war she became involved in the social upliftment of young Afrikaner women. She established a spinning and weaving school in Philippolis in 1905. Emily Hobhouse is buried at the Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein, but Philippolis honours her memory.

Old Jail (1872)

 Justisie Street 082 550 4421


This has been converted to a privately owned guesthouse, using cell blocks and other buildings for guest accommodation.

Kruithuis (Powder House)


Built in 1870, the powder house has 48 cm walls. The need from it arose as Philippolis was on an explosives delivery route. However, foundation cracks prevented it from being used for its intended purpose for more than a few years.



The Museum Transgariep at Philippolis, which opened on the 2nd of March 1982. It includes three interesting themes eg. Dr. J. Philip and the London's Missionary association , the Griqua age of Adam Kok II and Adam Kok III, Emily Hobhouse and her spin- and weaveschool and a picture cabinet with early leader figures of the town. Behind the Museum on the hill the visitor can still see two cannons which was used by Adam Kok, as well as a ``Griquakraal" next to the library; this ``kraal" makes out part of the Griqua Culture.

The Museum Transgariep is housed in the house of old administrator E.R Grobler, situated in Voortrekker Street. Adam Kok and his Griquas, who lived in Philippolis since 1826 till 1863, was spiritually guided by the London Missionary association. Philippolis was named after dr. John Philip, superintendent of the Association with whose permission the Griquas lived in Philippolis. In 1862 they moved to Griqualand-East, after the Republic of Free State bought their land..

The London Missionary Association
In the Museum Transgariep we relive the hard work done by the London Missionary Association, in the years 1823 to 1862, in the region north of the Orange river. In this room we find various photos and books of the different British missionaries who worked in Philippolis.

Dr. John Philip, after whom Philippolis is named, takes the central place in this room. Here his well known book - Researchers in South Africa (1828) can be seen. Dr. Philip acted as the Superintendent of the Missionary Association in South Africa since 1819 till 1849. The history of Philippolis is told by sketches of the Missionary Association till 1862 when Philippolis was handed over to the Republic of Free State.

Adam Kok
Situated in the Museum Transgariep is the bedroom, livingroom and kitchen, furnished in the way it was in the time of Adam Kok. In the livingroom the visitor can see the furniture of Adam Kok's time: a big table made of Olienwood, some chairs, a wall unit and a Stinkwood bench, as well as a display cabinet with some antiques.

In the bedroom is an iron bed which looks like the one on which Adam Kok III could have slept on also another bed and a closet. In the kitchen is a big old traditional kitchen table in the middle of the room. Also a cupboard and shelf with valuable kitchen utensils like copper kettles, porcelain bowls, dishes and spoons.

In the backyard of the Museum,
visitors can visit the horsemill and -stable. Horsemills are very scares. What makes this mill so valuable is that it is still in good working condition. The theme museum of Transgariep is the only one in the Free State with one of these mills. The grain is milled between the millstone. A horse pulls the mill and that is why the stable is so close to the mills.

The griquas as Adam Kok, loved horses. In the stable original Yellowwood beams and a feeding krib can still be seen.

Picture Cabinet
From the bedroom one walks into the Picture Cabinet. Here the visitors can see the beautiful photos of the leaders who played a important role in the history of Philippolis. There are photos, drawings and even paintings of the important figures like Adam Kok II and Adam Kok III, missionaries of the London Missionary Association like dr. Philip and John Campbell. Important Afrikaner leaders like dr. Tobie Muller and C.W.H van der Post and even ds. Colin Frasier, who where the preacher in Philippolis for so many years, are represented in this room.

Emily Hobhouse
The two rooms which is furnished for Emily Hobhouse and her spin- and weaveschool in the backyard, is also one of its kind in them museums in the Province. In the first room the visitor is introduced to her. There are a variety of photos which displays her life to us. With the start of the Second Freedom War in 1899 she too the misery of the Boerwives and children on herself. She wrote different article and books about the war.

The most important of which is The Brunt of to War and Where it fell (1902) The second room shows us how her first spin- and weaveschool, which she started in 1905 at Philippolis, to show the Boergirls how to spin and weave so they could bring a contribute to the economical restore of their families and the Afrikaner nation after the War.

In the backyard of the Museum Transgariep ``Stookketel" (distilling kettle) Alcoholism play an important role in the social life of the Griqua tribe. with this well kept ``Stookketel" which comes from the farm Oranjesig in the district of Philippolis, the Museum makes its own spirits (witblits) of grapes, peaches and other fruits. Because of constitutional regulations the witblits is not sold but offered to visitors to taste.

Griqua Huts
The Griquahuts north of the Museum Transgariep makes out an important part of the Griqua culture. This small ``Griquakraal" at the start of the hill on which the cannons of Adam Kok III stands, shows us the lifestyle of the Griquas who lived here from 1826 - 1862.

The Municipality of Philippolis restored the huts on traditional way by asking some Griqua women to weave the huts. The huts are made of woven ``biesiematte" (woven mats) which is put on a frame of tree branches and sown together. Also in this open-air museum stands the ``cars" of the Griquas - a feather wagon (verewa) and goat wagon (bokwa). With these wagons the Griquas moved to Griqua- land-East in 1862

Old Church

Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk  051 773 0014
Opened in 1871, the church was build on the site of the former Griqua church, in which the first minister, Colin Fraser, performed services from 1863. Fraser, who came from Scotland, was the father-in-law of Free State President M T Steyn. He retired only in 1907. The church is famous for its pulpit, which is carved from wild olive and erected with no nails, screws or bolts, and its its fine organ. (051 773 0065)

Oom Japie se Huis

Tel: 051 773 0050
This Victorian house, was restored by its then owner, Japie Janse van Rensburg (Oom Japie), to such good effect that it won a South African Institute of Architets 1997 award for the best-restored vernacular house in South Africa.

Starry Nights Karoo Cottages


Sunette: 082 89 24680;

Tomkins Koppie

This hill was named after the commanding officer of the British troops that occupied Philippolis during part of the Anglo-Boer War. Tomkins and his men defended the koppie without food dor water for several days while they were attacked by Boer forces.

Laurens van der Post Memorial Centre

051 773 0050
Labyrinth at Memorial
This centre is the first tourist attraction for tourists entering the town from the north. It commemorates this famous son of Philippolis, born in the Van der Post house, which is one of the town’s many national monuments, in Colin Fraser Street.The memorial gardens have been designed on the theme “A Journey Through Life” and a recent addition has been a stylised labyrinth and amphitheatre. The centre itself includes the writer’s study, which was moved from London to South Africa with its 1600 books, the writer’s desk and other furniture and photographs. The centre was opened in 1998, less than two years after the writer’s death, by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The main building and some of the land was donated by members of the Philippolis community while sponsorship funding was contributed by Lucia van der Post, the writer’s daughter, and the Van der Post Memorial Trust. The centre includes a double-storey Artist’s Retreat, a self-catering guesthouse.

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