The history of the little church at 24 Rivers - by Juliet Calcott (n. Baber)
The farm 24 Rivers was bought with the savings of spinster Edith Fawssett who had come out from England in 1892. Her sister, Katherine was married to Arthur Peacock, a burger of Paul Kruger's Republic. Her niece, Molly Fawssett had joined the family in Waterberg in 1899, on the eve of war. For three years the Peacock/Fawssett family were cut off from the outside world, unable to send or receive post.
After the war, in 1904, the family moved to 24 Rivers, Molly married Edward Davidson in 1905 and they, too, settled on the farm, 24 Rivers.
Edith Fawssett had set aside land for a church and plans were drawn up by Sir Herbert Baker, the architect of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The little chapel which seats about 40 was built in 1913 by the local community and dedicated in 1914 by Bishop Furse of Pretoria. Altar cloths were made by the Fawssett sisters and the carpentry was executed by a neighbour Mr John Mortimer and Mr Wale. E.A Davidson provided the transport of stone from a quarry on the farm and from the Dwars River.
On July 15th, 1914, St John the Baptist was dedicated by Michael Furse, Bishop of Pretoria. Miss Fawssett had chosen the name St John the Baptist as she said it was a church "in the desert"as the veld was so wild with "no road to speak of".
This little church has provided the focus for community life for over a hundred years. Ordained ministers visited occasionally at first and then once a month. The Rev Horace Gaylard cycled form Nylstroom each month in the years before a car was provided! He was quite motivated as he had fallen in love with the youngest Davidson daughter, Jane, whom he was to marry.
Church Sunday weekends provided the excuse for tennis, amateur dramatics, and happy visiting and led to the formation of a tight knit and loving community. The descendants of these families are part of this church community to this day.
Today the church has grown and meetings are vibrant and homely. Bishop Philip Le Feuvre, recognising the mix of Christians in the Waterberg, suggested that the chapel be run, not as an Anglican Church, but as a non-denominational church community embracing all English-speaking Christians in the Waterberg. On most Sundays you will find a cosmopolitan mix of English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Malawian, Zimbabwean and American Christians worshipping Christ and enjoying the informal focus on the heart of the Gospel in services run by ordinary Christians engaged in many different walks of life.