I sometimes ask myself, “Self, how many people every wonder about the history of an old building when they drive past it?” I snapped a picture of St Philips Church in Richmond Hill yesterday and decided to go and see if I can find any information about the church’s history and background. Guess what? I’m going to share what I found with you.
St Philip started as a mission church way back in about 1872 with families, mostly Dutch speaking, who had moved to Port Elizabeth from what is now the Western Cape. The church started in a wool store in Strand Street before moving to the Mechanic’s Institute in Donkin Street before a lack of space took them to the then St Paul’s Boys’ Schoolroom. Here they became the responsibility of the Rector of St Paul’s with the ministry starting to prosper under a Mr PR Mollett, a teacher, who later became St Philip’s first Rector. An application for land from the Municipal Council was made which was granted under a special Deed of Transfer dated 1883. This deed vested the property under three Trustees, one of whom was the Mayor of Port Elizabeth and the other two elected by the congregants. The foundation stone of the present church was laid in May 1883 with the church being dedicated in 1884. The church has seen many ups and downs, losing numerous parishioners to other parishes when the Group Areas forced removal of families from Central and South End. The Diocesan authorities expressed the view that the church’s closing was inevitable and the last Rector was appointed in 1960. But guess what? The church still stands today and still continues doing it’s work.