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East Dockyard Centenary 2010

Simon's Town Historical Society
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East Dockyard Centenary 2010
The Centenary of the East Dockyard is in 2010. The Simon's Town Historical Society and the Naval Heritage Society have formed a special committee to deal with the writing and publishing of a book to commemorate this event.

Click Here To Read All About It And How YOU Could Become Involved...

"Just Nuisance"

The venerable book on Just Nuisance is available from Simon's Town museum.
"Just Nuisance" by Terence Sisson
Price: R68.00


"Simon’s Town – Its History"

STHS's latest publication "Simon’s Town – its History" is available from the Society at R85 (excludes postage and packaging)

STHS Bulletin

The Society publishes an annual Bulletin which includes articles of historical interest dealing with Simon’s Town and its surroundings. The Simon’s Town Chronicle is also published twice yearly giving news of the Society’s activities and those of the Museum.

Our latest Bulletin is available at R15.00; back issues of the Bulletin are for sale at a rate of R10,00 per copy. (excludes postage and packaging)


The Simon's 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 are:

  • the collection and collation of information concerning the history of the town.
  • the collection and collation, preservation and exhibition of objects of any kind connected with Simon's Town.
  • the collection 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 Town Museum.

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.
  • Researching 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, etc.

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, 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.

Coat Of Arms Of Simon's Town
owned By The Simon's Town Historical Society and may not be used by any other organisation without the approval of the Society
"Quarterly 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"
Historical 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 Adriaan's arms.

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 family.

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 answer.

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 Zealand whatsoever.

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.


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