The Simon’s Town Museum is well worth a visit if your family has at anytime had connections with the Southern Peninsula.
It is located in the old Residency, which has served many purposes in its day since first inhabited by Dutch East India officials.
Simon’s Town is the 3rd oldest European settlement in the Cape, established after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Because of its location it was rather cut off from other settlements and had to become very self-sufficient.
The Royal Navy transferred its headquarters there in 1814 and the population became very diverse as people were drawn in to the Navy from many parts of the Empire. The Kroomen who worked on the British ships came from West Africa, mostly Liberia and Sierra Leone and some of them established families locally. The guide who showed us around is a descendant of one of those from Liberia. Her husband, also from an old Simon’s Town family, has Tristan da Cunha roots.
The museum has devoted a lot of space to photos and memorabilia of some of these old families which were forcibly removed after the passing of the Group Areas Act and the proclamation of Simons town as a White area. Many of these were tradesmen supplying tailoring, shoemaking and other services to the Navy. Some of these families were the Clarkes, the Anthonies, the Kleins and the Lawrences.
There is also a gallery of photos of past mayors and, of course, lots about the boats and the docks.
The Old Cemetery, Seaforth (Simon’s Town)
This is on the corner of Queen’s Road and Runciman Drive and was established in 1813 on ground which was part of a land grant to Captain Thomas Harrington of the English East India Company. He named it Seaforth in honour of his wife’s uncle, the Earl of Seaforth.
There are a number of sections; the Dutch section, the Roman Catholic section, the Anglican and the Moslem sections. The original Naval section was transformed into the Garden of Remembrance. Unfortunately there has been a lot of vandalism.