Are these really South Africa’s Top 10 Landmarks?

This is the list compiled by the Trip Advisor. It is always highly debatable what the top ten items are in any category; similarly with this list. Do you also have other landmarks in mind which are more significant like Kimberley or the Castle in Cape Town which should be on that list? Being totally unbiased I nominated Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth for the top position. The owner of the oldest extant house in Port Elizabeth and I have something in common. The Reverend Francis McCleland was my great great grandfather and the minister of the first church in Port Elizabeth.

According to the Heritage Collection:

No 7 Castle Hill was the residence of Rev. Francis McCleland and his family. He built his parsonage in 1825. The picturesque cottage is one of the oldest remaining dwelling houses in Port Elizabeth and is furnished as a family home of the mid-Victorian period, depicting the early Settler way of life. The house was declared a National Monument in 1962 and became a museum (No 7 Castle Hill Museum) in 1964.

Main picture: Number 7 Castle Hill in Port Elizabeth


TRAVELING back to the early 1800s is easy when visiting local Nelson Mandela Bay tourism treasure, No 7 Castle Hill and it is hard not to be swept away to a simpler time when stepping into a picturesque little house on the slope of Castle Hill road.

Between the Feather Market Hall and The Athenaeum, lies a time portal to the unaltered encapsulation of settler life. Built in 1830, No 7 Castle Hill is one of the oldest surviving settler cottages in the city and hence the reason it was voted in as one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s Top 10 icons. In 1965 it was renovated into a museum in an effort to preserve its integrity.

Number 7 Castle Hill#6

“A visitor can absorb the wonderful ambience of days gone by and marvel at the very organised and industrious life enjoyed at the time. It is the only house museum in South Africa that manages to capture this period – which makes it unique,” said Grizel Hart, No & Castle Hill museum curator.

The house is the oldest dwelling in Nelson Mandela Bay still in its original state. Reverend Francis McCleland built it for his wife and their 11 children after purchasing the land for £3 and three shillings. The museum is set out as a home representing domestic life between 1840 and 1870.

“As one of two museums in the Top 10 city icons, each with their own charms, No 7 Castle Hill certainly exposes the every day lives of the early settlers’ years in the city. It is important for us remember and treasure the diverse heritages in the city, said Titus Chuene, marketing manager of the NMBT. “The other museum in the Top 10 is Red Location Museum, and it also captures a different but equally important heritage.”

In the heart of the historical and heritage district of Nelson Mandela Bay, No 7 Castle Hill might just look like an old Victorian house from the outside, but stepping inside takes visitors on a wistful ride down memory lane. It repaints the domestic life of the middle class 19th century British settlers complete with yellowwood floors and beams, a vintage dollhouse, lace displays and downstairs kitchen and hearth.

“Our city is home to a great heritage selection, with some of the country’s oldest buildings still standing. No 7 Castle Hill is the only museum where you can go to experience the surroundings of how the settlers lived back then,” said Pierre Voges, Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) chief executive.

Number 7 Castle Hill#7

There are many interesting items on display for your enjoyment, including a toy museum with a wonderful collection of antique dolls and other old toys. The front parlour and dining room recreate the elegance of the times. A few articles in the museum belonged to the original family, including the dining room table and chairs.

The kitchen in the basement has the original Bak-oond. Transporting some, older, visitors back to their childhood. There is an old wood stove, a manual washing machine and a very clever peach-peeler amongst many other interesting items.

The original well is still working in the cobbled courtyard, bearing testament to the engineering expertise of the settlers. “The well in the courtyard is original and acts as an underground ‘tank’. It is made of the same sandstone as the house. Water is siphoned off the roof down gutters, into the well. The pump is dated 1849 and still works. The vine in the courtyard is beautiful and produces wonderful grapes,” said Hart of her caught-in-time museum.

Number 7 Castle Hill#8

“No 7 Castle Hill truly captures the ‘old’ Port Elizabeth in the ambience of the building’s interior and exterior. I could not be happier to call it one of the city’s top 10 icons. When you visit, you are sure to leave just a little more nchanted than when you arrived,” said Chuene.

See more at:

Instead the Trip Advisor selected these as their top 10 landmarks:

#1Battle Of Blood River

#1 The Battle Of Blood River


#2Isandlwana Battlefield

#2 The Isandlwana Battlefield on which the Zulus decisively beat the English forces under Lord Chelmsford


#3Constitution Hill

#3 Constitution Hill which combines the horrors of the past in the Old Fort and the hopes for the future in the Constitutional Court


#4 Satyagraha House - Gandhi's House in Joburg

#4 Satyagraha House – Gandhi’s House in Joburg


#5The Storms River Suspension Bridge

#5 The Storms River Suspension Bridge


#6The Voortrekker Monument

#6 The Voortrekker Monument


#7The Hector Pieterson Memorial

#7 The Hector Pieterson Memorial


#8The Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick

#8 The Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick

#9Robben Island

#9 Robben Island

#10The Union Buildings in Pretoria

#10 The Union Buildings in Pretoria

Number 7 Castle Hill#5

My number one: Number 7 Castle Hill, Port Elizabeth




  1. I found the parts touching on the history of Port Elizabeth particularly interesting seeiing that one of my ancestors Bombardier Jonathan Crooks was one of the original residents of Fort Frederick in 1822 when the Royal Artillery was stationed in the barracks.

    • Hi Merlin, am in the process of writing a whole bunch of blogs on PE, my home town. You can access them on the left panel under “Port Elizabeth of Yore”. I also have more personal memories under “Family Histories – McClelands”


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