1820 Settlers Monument

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The 1820 Settlers Monument (also referred to as the 1820 Settlers National Monument) in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) is a memorial built to commemorate the contributions made by English-speaking settlers to South Africa.

Initiated and supported by the 1820 Settlers Foundation and originally built with matched funding from the government, it is unlike any other monument because, since its opening on 13 July 1974, this superbly equipped building has been a centre of creative thought and activity.

This concept of a living monument led to the establishment of highly successful educational and cultural projects, including the world-renowned Grahamstown Festival (later formally referred to as the National Arts Festival or NAF). The Monument is now used by well over 200 000 people a year from all South African groups.


In 1920, Sir George Cory first put forward the idea of a Monument honouring the 4000 Settlers who arrived in the Eastern Cape in 1820. Progress toward establishing a Monument gained momentum through the efforts of Thomas Bowker, an opposition MP, some decades later. An amount of 50 000 pounds was pledged to the project by South Africa’s Parliament and, in April 1962, a fund raising campaign was launched for the project – by then Prime Minister Dr Hendrik Verwoerd. The first sod was turned by Dr Nico Malan in 1970. The building took four years to complete at a cost of R4 004 200 and was officially opened on 13 July 1974.

The architect was Frederick Lamond (Jock) Sturrock.

The Fountain Foyer exhibited 24 large panels of art, painted by Cecil Skotnes, commissioned in 1984 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Monument.

The Monument was seriously damaged by fire in August 1994, and the building required extensive restoration. It was subsequently renovated, and the building was re-dedicated by President Nelson Mandela in May 1996.

A living monument

The Monument has become a meeting place for all South Africans. It was built to commemorate a worthy heritage and to encourage us to look forward with hope.

Amid reminders of the past, the building provides facilities for use by all South Africans, in particular activities which encourage the ideals of freedom of speech, social interaction and the use of English as a contact language.

This concept of a living Monument led to the establishment of highly successful educational and cultural projects. The Monument is now used by well over 200 000 people a year from all South African groups.

The 1820 Settlers Monument building

The Monument building houses several venues, making it an ideal multi-purpose destination for conferences, conventions and festivals. These venues include:

  • Guy Butler Theatre (formerly the Monument Theatre; the venue was re-named in 1996, following a serious fire in 1994 and subsequent restoration and renovation)
  • Olive Schreiner Hall
  • Thomas Pringle Hall
  • Fountain Foyer
  • The Bunker
  • Council Chamber
  • Monument Restaurant
  • Ntsikana Gallery, Atherstone Room and Yellowwood Terrace
  • Rehearsal Room
  • B2 Arena
  • Gallery in the Round
  • Monument Gallery

Proposal to re-name the 1820 Settlers Monument

Following resolutions taken by the Foundation Council in October 2015 and November 2016, the Grahamstown Foundation announced in 2019 that it would be accepting 'proposals for a new name for the Monument that captures the philosophy and vision for the future, while still recognising the diverse and complex legacy of our past'.




Boltt J. Fire damage to the 1820 Settlers' National Monument. Grahamstown Foundation Media Office, April, 1996.

Butler G. 1820 Settlers Monument Neville, T. More lasting than bronze: a story of 1820 Settlers.


Mail & Guardian, 16 September 1994

Address by President Nelson Mandela at the rededication of the 1820 Settlers Monument, Grahamstown, 16 May 1996 http://www.mandela.gov.za/mandela_speeches/1996/960516_settlers.htm



For more information

See National Arts Festival, Grahamstown Foundation, Guy Butler Theatre

See http://www.foundation.org.za/monument/index.php

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