CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE - CAPE TOWN (WESTERN CAPE)
SOUTH AFRICAN CANNON ASSOCIATION
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ABOUT THE CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE

Building of the Castle of Good Hope began in 1666 and took 13 years to complete. It started with the laying of three foundation stones for Bastion Leerdam, of which one was laid by Jan Van Riebeeck's successor, Zacharias Wagenaer. Van Riebeeck had already left the Cape in 1662. Yet many people are under the impression that the Castle of Good Hope is the original fort that Jan Van Riebeeck had built upon arriving at the Cape of Good Hope on 6 April 1652.

According to the listings in the Durr Record, there should be:

- four cannon at the William Fehr Museum (three 1-pdr cannon and one miniature cannon);
- twenty cannon in total on the Castle ramparts;
- seventy-one used as moat bollards;
- twenty used as other bollards;
- six used as bollards at the Castle Entrance;
- one set into the wall at the inner gate;
- two at the Castle Bridge;
- four on pivots on the bastions, and
- four at the Castle Military Museum.

That makes 132 cannon.

Counting the bollards would be difficult. However, the 20 cannon on the ramparts are definitely all there. There are:

- 5 on Bastion Leerdam;
- 6 on Bastion Buuren;
- 3 on Bastion Katzenellenbogen;
- 3 on Bastion Nasau, and
- 3 on Bastion Oranje.

On four of the five bastions there are also 4 cannon buried with the muzzle facing upward, with an iron bar fixed in the barrel, which would have served as pivots for cannon mounted on platforms. They are on bastions Leerdam, Buuren, Nassau and Oranje. Unfortunately the cannon and their platforms are no longer there.

ALSO INSIDE THE CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE

Two museums

The Castle has two museums that are well worth visiting.

The William Fehr Museum is housed in the building that leans against the wall that divides the Castle's court yard into two sections on the Van der Stel Gate (main gate) side of the wall. This building once housed the Political Council (parliament) of the Cape. Access to this museum is gained via the Kat balcony, from which death penalties and other important announcements were made in the early days of the Cape of Good Hope.

The other museum is the Castle Military Museum, which is housed in the curtain wall between Bastion Buuren and Bastion Katzenellenbogen. The original entrance to the Castle was in this curtain wall and a representation of what it looked like can be seen when entering the museum from the front baily.

The "bakhuis"

Another attraction inside the Castle is the "bakhuis" (bakery) in the rear baily, which was built by the second governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, the son of Simon van der Stel, after whom the Van der Stel gate was named.

The "dolphin" pool

Next to the "bakhuis" is the so-called "dolphin" pool (so named after the water fountain in the centre - which doesn't resemble a dolphin at all). According to legend, Lady Anne Barnard, the wife of the first British Colonial Secretary of the Cape, used to swim in this pool at night, reportedly in the nude. She served as the First Lady of the Cape at the time, as the wife of the British governor, Lord Macartney couldn't join him at the Cape due to her poor health.

The mistaken dark hole and the real torture chamber

A visit to the Castle is also not complete unless one has been inside the mistaken "dark hole", the gunpowder magazine underneath Bastion Katzenellenbogen, which for many decades was mistakenly believed to have been the Castle's torture chamber. The real torture chamber is situated in the curtain wall between Bastion Katzenellenbogen and Bastion Nassau, where the curtain wall meets Bastion Nassau. This is where a farmer by the name of Adam Tas was locked up for about a year, for organizing a petition to the governors of the Dutch East-India Company (VOC), the Lords Seventeen, against governor Adriaan van der Stel, for benefiting himself and his friends from the trading with ships visiting the Cape.

De Goewerneur Restaurant

While visiting the Castle you could also have a light meal and a beer or cold drink at the De Goewerneur Restaurant, which is situated to your right as you are about to leave through the Van der Stel gate.

The changing of the guard

If your timing is right you will also be able to witness the Castle guard changing ceremony.

Cannon firing demonstrations

On weekends the Cannon Association Of South Africa (CAOSA) demonstrates the loading and firing of muzzle loading cannon in the front baily, between the Kat balcony and the Van der Stel gate. For a small donation, you may also have the honour of firing the cannon under supervision. For the firing schedule, please see the events calendar at:
www.sa-cannon.com/events.html.


IN THE AREA NEAR THE CASTLE

As you leave the Castle through the Van der Stel gate, you will be facing the Grand Parade (parking area). On the opposite end of the Grand Parade, on your left hand side, you will see the high rise building of the Post Office, which stands approximately where Jan Van Riebeeck's square fort, Fort De Goede Hoop used to be.  On your right hand side opposite the Grand Parade, you will see the high rise building of the Golden Acre. Inside the Golden Acre you will be able to see what is left of the water canal and reservoir that Zacharias Wagenaer (Jan Van Riebeeck's successor) had built to provide the ships at the anchorage with fresh water.

VIEW THE CASTLE'S WEBSITE

Visit the Castle of Good Hope at: http://www.castleofgoodhope.co.za.

SUBMIT THE EVIDENCE OF YOUR DETECTIVE WORK

If you have one or more photos of this cannon site that you would like to share with us, please email them to signalgun@gmail.com. (Please note our disclaimer.)



Please report any incorrect information on this page, or information that you think should be added to this page to: signalgun@gmail.com.
Photos by Fanus van der Merwe (2013).
Pivoting cannon on Bastion Katzenellenbogen (Pivot and cannon missing) (512 x 384)
Pivoting cannon on Bastion Buuren (Cannon missing) 512 x 384)
Close up of the cannon pivot on Bastion Buuren (512 x 384)
Pivoting cannon on Bastion Leerdam (Cannon missing) (512 x 384)
Close up of the cannon pivot on Bastion Leerdam (512 x 384)
Pivoting cannon on Bastion Oranje (Cannon missing) (512 x 384)
Close up of the cannon pivot on Bastion Oranje (512 x 384)
Pivoting cannon on Bastion Nassau (Cannon missing) (512 x 384)
Close up of the cannon pivot on Bastion Nassau (512 x 384)
Entrance to the mistaken dark hole - the gun powder magazine underneath Bastion Katzenellenbogen. (512 x 384)
The torture chamber and the door to the dark hole. (512 x 384)
Entrance to the dark hole (512 x 384)
The torture chamber (512 x 384)
The only source of natural light inside the dark hole (512 x 384)
Photos by Fanus van der Merwe (2013).
Left view of a carronade (512 x 384)
Rear view of a carronade (512 x 384)
Right view of a carronade (512 x 384)
Front view of a carronade (512 x 384)
Photos by Fanus van der Merwe (2013).