Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Hill Presbyterian Church

Initially the Presbyterians in Port Elizabeth could not afford their own church so they supported the “New Church,” an Independent Church, from 1853. This church was located at the corner of Main and Donkin Streets. Finally, in 1861 they were able to support their own church. 

Accordingly, they built a magnificent Gothic style church in a prominent position on the hill which is visible from Algoa Bay. 

Main picture: View of the Hill Presbyterian Church from Donkin Reserve

Initially after leaving the New Church, the Presbyterians held their services in the Grey Institute. Above all, what they desired was to have their own minister. This ideal was achieved in 1860 when the Presbyterians in the town felt that they could support a minister of their own. The Rev. George Renny was brought out from Scotland, arriving at the Cape in December.


The Hill Presbyterian Church circa 1910

The first elders were ordained in 1863. The final realisation of that long held dream was fulfilled on 19th February 1896 when the Hill Church, designed by Frederick Molesworth Pfeil, was officially opened.

Hill Presbyterian Church in late 1800s

Like all churches, various enhancements have been effected over the years. A porch was added in 1892, alterations were made to accommodate a new organ and in 1896, a hall, also designed by G.W. Smith, was built. It was named after Sir William Dunn, who as Mr Dunn had been one of the first elders of the church.

One of the crosses on the Hill Presbyterian Church

One of the crosses on the Hill Presbyterian Church

In memory of the war dead of WW1, on 18th June 1922, a war memorial was unveiling at the Hill Presbyterian Church. It was designed by Victor Jones. The memorial consisted of a bronze tablet with verde antico marble surround with a base moulding of Pretoria Granite. It consisted of three panels with delicate mouldings.

Hill Presbyterian Church-Recent#07

Hill Presbyterian Church-Recent#01

Hill Presbyterian Church-Recent#02


Port Elizabeth: A Social Chronicle to the end of 1945 by Margaret Harradine (1996, E H Walton Packaging Pty Ltd, Port Elizabeth)


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