beginnings can be traced back to the granting of
grazing rights by the Cape Government to Pieter Hugo
in 1758, although it is known that San people had
been in the area long before this.
first community to permanently settle here was a
Xhosa group, and in 1839 the Cape Governor granted
land to the
amaXhosa, including the farms of Schietfontein,
Harmsfontein and Rhenosterpoort. Before the end of
that year 110 Xhosa families had settled here.
the year 1847, the Reverend C.W. Alheit started his
ministry in Schietfontein area. He originally
pitched his tent near the site on which the first
parsonage was to be erected in the 1850s (it has
recently been restored and serves as the Information
The Rhenish Mission (1847-1943) provided
school education for the
eventually leading to the establishment of the Harmsfontein
village in 1860.
Harmsfontein was renamed Carnarvon in
1874 after Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of
Carnarvon. He was a British under-secretary
for the colonies who, in the 1870s,
unsuccessfully endeavoured to confer
self-government on South Africa.
The centre of Carnarvon town bears
witness to the originating years of the
Rhenish Mission. The most prominent
architectural features are the restored
parsonage (1850s) now restored as the
Information Centre; the church (1858) and
the clocktower (1899); the old school
(1871), and the current parsonage (1912).
area is well known for the corbelled houses built by the Trekboers between 1811 and 1815.
The roofs of these small domed houses were built of
flat stones for lack of wood for roof trusses. The
cement was a mixture of chaff and soil mixed with
water and kneaded to the correct texture. Floors
were of smeared earth coloured a rich red by a
mixture of fat and oxblood polished with a smooth
annual "Fly-Inn" each June attracts
microlight and other light aircraft
from all over the country.