head picture

return to home page


A small town in the Eastern Free State, coordinates: 27.4265ºS 29.1641ºE 1678m above sea level


Vrede main streetVrede translated means peace. So, why would a town be called peace? There was a serious dispute over where the township should be laid out. Settlement was reached and peace declared.
The town was established in 1863 and the first plots sold in 1877. Why such a long gap? The first application to establish the settlement was rejected by the Volksraad. I am not sure how many more applications went in until it was granted in 1879.
It served as a temporary capital of the Free State in 1900 when the government had to give way to the British from Bloemfontein.

NG Church

Vrede churchVrede original churchThe history of the church and the congregation is on display in the entrance to the church, and this is where most of my information comes from.
The congregation was formed in 1882. Building of the sand stone church commenced 1885 and completion was 1887. That was not the end of the building activity, a tower was added 1912, that is the tower as it stands today. Referring to the old picture, taken 1887, the tower was added to the side in the shadow, that is the south side. Also the entrance has undergone some changes, with a few towers being added.
Vrede church clockworks.jpgVrede clock wind.jpgDuring the Anglo Boer War the church was used as a hospital by the British. All the benches were removed and used as fire wood. In the foyer is a picture showing the inside of the church all bare.
The new tower got a clock, the works are dated 1913 and manufactured by E.Burmester of Capetown. E.Burmester was a well known shop in Capetown for jewelry, watches and clocks.
The works are driven by a weight , which has to be winched up at frequent intervals (remember Epot=mhg). The picture shows Eleni, my wife, cranking up the weights.Vrede Schmiedeberg clock And sorry about the digression, it is not the first time she has been doing this. The previous time was in the church tower of my home town in Germany (Bad Schmiedeberg). There, a new clock had to be installed in 1904 after a fire had destroyed the top of the tower. This one also works with weights that have to be winched up once a week. Sorry again about this digression, but I had to do it.

In the grounds of the church is a monument which was placed there in 1938 to commemorate the 100 years of the Great trek. And on the other side is the monument for the burgers who lost their lives in the 1899-1902 Boer War. The monument was inaugurated in 1910 with Christiaan de Wet and MT Steyn present. Vrede monumentAnd it was at this monument where Christiaan de Wet made a speech at the beginning of the 1914 rebellion, protesting to the burgers about South Africa's involvement in the 1st World War on the side of Britain.

Boer War

Vrede sheep killingOne of the significant events of the Boer war was the killing of the sheep. That was in order to remove any source of food from the fighting Boers. The picture shows this event. The carcasses were collected and piled up in one of the buildings in the town and allowed to rot.
I saw this on eBay and feel it is such a telling image that it just needs to be shown. The image has been purchased by Toby Brayley, he maintains an interesting facebook page o the subject of the British Army.
Apart from showing the result of the slaughter the picture also shows the church, the way it looked in 1901.

Railway station

Vrede railway stationThe rail connection to Standerton was completed in 1912. It's the end of the line, in two ways. It is the end of the line coming from Standerton, the train can go no further. And it is also the end of the line because it has fallen into disuse. The station building is a burned out shell, but the rails are still there.


Vrede british war gravesOf interest here is a section reserved for British war graves, I counted 104 names. Also of note was a fairly large section of Jewish graves.

The Vrede Hotel

Vrede hotelI mention this specifically because we had a good lunch there. It was originally opened in 1887 as the Hotel Union. It could cater for 40 guests and 50 horses. It was renamed to Hotel Grand in the early 1900rds and later to the Balmoral.
Vrede hotel insideIn 1968 the building was destroyed by a fire. It was rebuilt on a smaller scale, was completely refurbished and reopened in 2011. The decor is as it was in the early 1900rds, very pleasing, see the picture.
I had a look at the room rates and must say they are very reasonable, also the food in the restaurant was fairly priced and tasty.

Ref 1.: Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa, Nasou Limited, 1974
Ref 2.: "Ons Kerk Album van Hollandsche Kerken en Leeraren", publisher: unknown, printed 1917
Ref 3.: menu in the restaurant of the Vrede Hotel
Ref 4.: NG gemeente Vrede
Ref 5.: "Geskiedenis van Vrede 1879-1979", compiled by P.R.Botha, printed by Vrede Express Drukkert

return to home page