Mmegi Blogs :: The LMS Churches at Old Palapye, Serowe, Tiger Kloof and Bobonong
Last Updated
Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
The LMS Churches at Old Palapye, Serowe, Tiger Kloof and Bobonong

There are many questions.
By Sandy Grant Wed 20 Dec 2017, 18:29 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The LMS Churches at Old Palapye, Serowe, Tiger Kloof and Bobonong

For what purposes were the country’s older churches designed?’ Why isn’t there one standard design? What are/were the significant design differences between the Catholic Church and the various Protestant churches? 

Which elements of the design of the old tribal churches are decorative and which structural? Was any attempt made here by the designers of those churches to adapt to local conditions and situations?

I can ask these questions, but this doesn’t mean that I have the answers to such tantalising questions although I dearly wish that I did. Maybe someone would tell me. But let’s make a start with the four LMS Churches at Old Palapye, Serowe, Tiger Kloof and Bobonong, two being of brick and two of stone.

With three, I am more or less familiar. Tiger Kloof I saw when I was less interested in such topics than I am now.

A cursory comparison would suggest, however, that there are significant similarities between all four. All of them had or have an entrance porch, lancet windows and buttresses. Two, maybe three, had side aisles and circular or rose windows.

I would dearly love to know how all three are aligned and about each ones’ roofing structure – although there seem to be clear similarities between Old Palapye and Serowe and also, I suspect with Tiger Kloof. Similarities between the latter two should be expected because Tiger Kloof students worked on the construction of both buildings. 

The towers of Old Palapye (now in ruins), Serowe and Bobonong are striking and distinctive. The Old Palapye tower was surprisingly elaborate, being capped with


an octagon.

In England, I know of only one of the same kind.  Serowe’s tower is capped by a spirelet. But from where was this remarkable feature derived? 

The powerful Bobonong tower boasted one feature that is not found elsewhere. This is, or was a cockerel wind vane. I would be much reassured that it is still crowing, but fear that it has now been lost.

The cockerel, is or was a distinctive feature of both the church and Bobonong itself. If it has gone, it needs to be replaced. But then again, why did the LMS want towers?

They fulfill no liturgical function other than carrying bells, but they’re always a powerful architectural statement of faith and power. We can also ask why it wanted porches which are a significant additional cost for any building?

In Europe porches are still a feature not just of churches but of thousands of homes. Because of the winter there with wind,rain and cold, porches of one kind or another are an almost indispensable part of any building. But here? And then there are the buttresses which can be both decorative and functional.

Problems were experienced in the construction of the Old Palapye, Serowe and Bobonong churches and at all three, buttresses were indeed functional.

Bobonong is an extraordinarily ramshackle building which seems to be held together by cello tape and super glue. It has a dismaying past record of structural weakness and collapse. It follows that the buttresses there are not merely important, they are helping to hold the whole edifice together.



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