Bishop Gray

Bishop Gray

When he arrived in Cape Town 1848. He rented a house of the Governor, Sir Lowry Cole. Three years later he bought the estate of 101 morgen for £3 000, securing it for his use as Bishop of Cape Town and for his successors. It became known as Bishopscourt. His successor lives there today.

At home the work was literally at his doorstep. In the low, unoccupied buildings to the right of the house, he established the Diocesan College for Boys, better known as Bishops. He next purchased fifty acres of land in Rondebosch for the College. The Diocesan College moved to their new premises on Christmas 1849. After the Diocesan College had moved out of Bishopscourt, the outbuildings they had used were occupied by another of the Bishop’s educational projects, a school for Black boys and girls. They were originally the children of tenants, most of which were former slaves from Mozambique. In the spring of 1859 this school was already overfull; it needed larger premises. The Zonnebloem estate nearer Cape Town was acquired. The character of the “Native College” had also changed and African chiefs now sent their children to be educated there. Much later it became a training college for Non-White teachers and a large school was attached to it. It has since been demolished and the site occupied by the Holiday Inn, Eastern Boulevard.

St. George’s Grammar School, the oldest church school in the country, was another of the bishop’s foundations. Its history has not been so clearly recorded as that of Bishops, but it too owes its inception to Bishop Gray, as does St. Cyprian’s.

The next year the body of Robert Gray was laid to rest in the shadow of St. Saviour’s, Claremont.

Bishop Gray Monument at the top of St George’s Mall.

Inscribed :

“Erected by Public subscription in memory of

Robert Gray D. D. First Bishop of Cape Town

and Metropolitan

Consecrated St Peter’s Day 1847 Deceased September 1st 1872″


The monument stands over 7 metres high, and is apparently all in imported stone. It consists of a polished pink granite Ionic column surmounted by a ball and metal cross all set on a Portland stone pedestal with corner urns, granite and sandstone pillars (plinth probably Cape granite).

The architect was William Butterfield. The statue was first erected in Wale Street in 1876. A plaque on the pavement in Wale Street, indicates the spot, where it stood in front of the old cathedral until street improvement necessitated its re-positioning in the Cathedral grounds, and later to its present position.

The present metal cross appears to be a replacement for the much larger original cross.

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