The Old Gaol

The gaol was built shortly after the Drostdy and was originally a simple, long building with lean-to cells at the rear. By 1790 the gaol was enlarged and again in 1813.  A courtyard was formed by linking the two rear cell wings with a high wall and securing it by embedding glass fragments along its ridge.

The two cells in the north-western corner are open for visitors.  The whipping post which once stood in the center of the yard no longer exists.  Judicial procedure was very primitive and torture was freely used, especially when interrogating slaves. Corporal punishment was often administered. Flogging, branding and loss of ears were frequently applied to the slaves.

The landdrost’s court mostly dealt with petty civil cases. They had no authority to hear criminal cases and these were referred to the court of justice in Cape Town.

The cottage on the south-western side of the gaol was built in 1828 and provided accommodation for the gaoler. Rooms in the section once occupied by the deputy sheriff house exhibitions and the museum shop. A coffee shop and art gallery is run from the secretaries residence.

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