Town Historical Society was established in 1960 with the aim
of collecting information and artefacts with a view to establishing
a Museum in Simon's Town. This aim was realised and the Simon's
Town Museum opened in 1977.
The first Bulletin of the
Society appeared in January 1961 and in this issue one can
find our full constitution, but briefly some of our functions
and collation of information concerning the history of the
and collation, preservation and exhibition of objects of
any kind connected with Simon's Town.
and preservation of documents, plans, photographs and books
concerning the history of Simon's Town.
One of the Society's main
aims is to assist the Museum. To this end members of the
Society become friends of the museum and therefore a third
of the members' annual subscriptions are paid to the Simon's
The Society plays an important
part in keeping an eye on our main street - on which there
is a preservation order - "The Historic Mile" as
it is known. It stretches from the railway station to the old
East Dockyard Gate. We have also paid for many plaques to be
placed around the town at sites of historical interest.
Other important projects
undertaken in recent years are:
The complete restoration (in
conjunction with the SA Navy) of the Martello Tower built by the British in 1796
- The survey
of the Watermill at the SA Naval Sportsfield at Glencairn.
- The manufacture
of an authentic gun carriage for a 8 pounder VOC cannon now
positioned at the Simon's Town Museum.
- The restoration
of the Burgraaff / De Waal Family Vault (1868) in the Old
Burying Ground in Simon's Town.
the history of Simon's Town is an ongoing activity.
The Society organises monthly public
lectures which are held in the museum hall.
We have approximately 500 members (2006), both in South Africa and overseas.
We arrange tours to places of interest around the Cape Peninsula.
The Annual General Meeting
of the Society is held around the middle of April. All paid-up
members of the Society are invited to participate.
Membership is open to
anyone interested in the objectives of the Society. The most
advantageous way to learn about this historical town and its
interesting history is to join the Simon's Town Historical
Society. Your membership will automatically make you a "Friend
Of The Simon's Town Museum", entitling you to free entry
to the Museum, voting at the Museum or Society meetings, as
well as notices of all Museum and Society functions, tours,
lectures, dinners, musical evenings, braais, wine-tasting,
The present membership fee
is R40 for the first member of a family and R10 each for subsequent
members. The subscription for overseas members is £15
Sterling per person.
Enjoy our history and join
us in preserving and sharing it. We will be delighted to welcome
YOU as a member. To join the Historical Society, please send
email to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and we will forward you a form - or right click and download
the form from here (Save
Target As - Word format). Print and complete the application
form and either post it (along with the applicable membership
fee) to P.O. Box 56, Simon's Town 7995 or hand it in
at the front shop at the Simon's Town Museum.
By The Simon's Town Historical Society and may not be used by any
other organisation without the approval of the Society
Of Arms Of Simon's Town
first and fourth per pale the dexter Argent three Towers
Gules the sinister per fesse Or and Azure in chief on a
Mount Vert a Peacock in his pride proper and in base three
Plates second and third Azure an Estoile and in chief three
Crescents also Argent over all an Oval cartouche with scrolled
edges Or charged with a demi Lion rampant Gules issuant
from three Barrulets wavy Vert And for the Crest Issuant
from a Naval Crown Or a representation of Britannia supporting
with the dexter Hand a Trident and with the sinister Hand
a fouled Anchor proper"
Background Of Simon's Town
Simon's Town's name was
derived from Simon's Bay, which Simon van der Stel named after
himself in 1687. It was therefore thought that the design for
Simon's Town's Coat of Arms was based on Simon van der Stel's
personal coat of arms. The designer however, could not find
a copy of Simon's personal coat of arms and so he assumed that
his son, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, would have an identical
coat of arms to that of his father and therefore he used Willem
In fact Willem Adriaan's
were quite different from Simon's. The Van der Stel family
originally bore three red towers or castles on a gold shield.
As was the Dutch fashion at that time, Simon had augmented
this by first quartering the shield (dividing it in four parts)
and then placing two of the towers in the first quarter and
the remaining one in the fourth quarter. This left him with
two other quarters to fill and in the one he placed a gold
peacock on red and on the other three silver roundels or "plates".
They were no doubt the arms
of ancestral families. Not satisfied with the quartered shield
as such, he placed in the middle of it a smaller shield or "in
escutcheon" blue with six ribs. In Dutch heraldry it denoted
a place of honour and often the arms of the most important "heerlijkheid" (seigniory)
one possessed were placed there.
The blue shield with the
six ribs which Simon van der Stel placed on his arms, belonged
to the old and noble Portuguese family, Da Costa. Why did Van
der Stel want to honour this family? History has it that Van
der Stel's grandmother was a woman from India, named Monica
da Costa, which means "Monica of the Coast". Rightly
or wrongly, Van der Stel gave her a place of honour on his
own coat of arms by adding part of the arms of the old Da Costa
The same coat of arms, placed
on an anchor (Cape Colony) was borne by the Drostdy of Stellenbosch
till its dissolution in 1827. In 1840 the town elected its
first municipal council and they adopted the old Drostdy arms
as the arms of the new municipality. The new arms which were
granted to Stellenbosch in 1952 by the College of Arms were
based on the old Drostdy arms, but the order was changed.
There was therefore, in 1906,
no reason for the Simon's Town municipality to consult any
authority further than the town clerk of Stellenbosch, but
they did. They contacted the authorities of the city of Amsterdam
who sent them Willem Adriaan's coat of arms (not Simon's).
Had the town clerk of Simon's Town consulted the right authority
in Holland, the secretary of the "Hooge Raad van Adel" (High
Council of Nobility), he would no doubt have received the correct
Further investigation into
Simon's Town's coat of arms was carried out in 1973 by Mr C.
Pama. He discovered that the arms were based on those of Willem
Adriaan instead of Simon's. The little shield or escutcheon
in the middle also puzzled him. In the description of the burgermaster
of Amsterdam it was described as the arms of the Dutch province
of Zealand, but it was most unlikely that any private person
in Holland would place the provincial coat of arms on his shield
unless he had exceptionally good reasons for doing so. There
was absolutely no connection between the Van der Stels and
Fortunately the tombstone
of Maria de Hase, Willem Adriaan's wife, can still be seen
in the little church of Lisse in Holland and on it are her
husband's arms. It appears that the little figure in the middle
of the escutcheon is not a demi-lion, but a demi-fox. Now the
whole significance of this escutcheon suddenly becomes clear.
This demi-fox, rising as it were, out of the water, was the
coat of arms of the village of Vossemeer (lake of the fox)
and as Willem Adriaan had been Lord of that village, there
is nothing strange in his placing the arms of the village in
the centre of his own shield.
It is evident therefore,
that too mistakes were made when Simon's Town adopted a coat
of arms. Firstly Willem Adriaan's arms were taken instead of
Simon's, and secondly the Zealand shield was added instead
of that of Vossemeer.