Serendipity – Grants Valley, a church no more

By Bev Young

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One of the saddest relics to note in the region has to be the old churches and graveyards.

Somehow, these resting places are often incorporated into growing towns or cities, and only the memories linger.

One little church in the region is Grants Valley, and nothing is left now except neglected graves, and the ruins of the building.

The farm, Grant’s Valley was approved in 1825 to John Grant, a colour sergeant of the 72nd Regiment, who had been discharged on pension in 1823. Grant, a bachelor, remained on the farm until his death on October 30 1854, at 84 years old. He is buried on another part of the farm (and has a gravestone) but one is unable to visit the site as it is accessed by a locked gate.

GONE NOW: The ruins of the Grants Valley Church, pictured when more remained of the building

The Church was built in 1869 and services were conducted by visiting ministers from Southwell. Because of transport difficulties, regular services ceased before the end of the 19th century and the very last service was held at Easter in 1920.

The church from then on fell into disrepair and in the late 1960s all but the front walls were demolished. Thirty seven people are recorded in the Burial Register of St James at Southwell as being buried at Grant’s Valley. Three have stones in this churchyard, three have stones in other places on the farm.

In the main graveyard there are 14 graves and the remaining 14 burials must then be in unmarked plots within the grounds of the church or graveyard. It is also possible that certain of the burials could have been on farms close by.

According to Doris Stirk who wrote “The Southwell Settlers”, in the second cemetery on the farm situated in very thick bush there are 14 marker stones and one marble stone to the memory of George Gravett (October 14 1823 – October 20 1922), his wife Hannah (died March 25 1880, aged 39 years) and their son Edwin George (died August 30 1924 aged 53 years and buried at Port Alfred).

Of the 14 marked graves there are 11 members of the McDougall family, two Futters (brother and sister) and one Estment.

 

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