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History of Stellenbosch


History of Stellenbosch Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa since Cape Town is a city. The town was established as far back as 1679, when Simon van der Stel, then governor of the Cape Colony, felt that further supplies of wine and fruit would prove useful to the Dutch East India Company. After moving inland from Cape Town to find fertile soil, van der Stel felt that the mountain valley now known as Stellenbosch, with the Eersterivier flowing through it, would be perfect. Soon afterwards, in 1685, the Dutch Reformed Church founded its second parish to serve the growing community of Stellenbosch. Soon after the first settlers arrived, especially the French Huguenots, grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and so became the centre of the South African wine industry. The first school had been opened in 1683 but education in the town began in earnest in 1859 with the opening of a seminary for the Dutch Reformed Church and a gymnasium which known as het Stellenbossche Gymnasium was established in 1866. In 1874 some higher classes became Victoria College and then in 1918 University of Stellenbosch. In the early days of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Stellenbosch was one of the British military bases, and was used as a 'remount' camp; and in consequence of officers who had not distinguished themselves at the front being sent back to it, the expression 'to be Stellenbosched' came into use; so much so, that in similar cases officers were spoken of as 'Stellenbosched' even if they were sent to some other place." In 1710, only 30 years after its establishment, a devastating fire destroyed much of Stellenbosch. Further disaster struck in 1803 and in 1875, both fires destroying many of the historical homes of the village once again. In 1866, what was to become the reputable University of Stellenbosch first opened its doors to students and began a rich history of higher level education for South Africans and International Students alike.