History of Paarl 1700-1800

Paarl, the 3rd oldest settlement in SA and its has a 300 year old story. Lets see what happened in the first 100 years of its existance, between years 1700 to 1800!

In 1657 Abraham Gabbema, named the 2 largest Boulders on Paarl Mountain “den Diamant ende Peerlbergh” – the Diamond and the Pearl – from which the town later took the name Paarl.

Paarl, first established as a farming community in 1687 when the French Huguenots and  European Dutch settlers were granted 20 farms along the Berg River. Today some of these farms are more than 300 years old!!

The Valley was named after a Dutch commissioner in 1685 – Hendrik Adriaan van Reede tot Drakenstein, Lord of Mijdrecht. The mountains towering over the Drakenstein Valley bear his name –Klein Drakenstein in the East and Groot Drakenstein in the South.

Prior to this period Paarl was first inhabited by the Khoikhoi and San people. The Peninsular Khoikhoi people and the Cochoquapeople lived in this area divided by the Berg River Valley. The Cochaqua were cattle heading people and among the richest of the Khoi tribes. They had between 16,000-18,000 members and originally called Paarl Mountain, Tortoise Mountain.

Between the founding of Paarl and the end of the 1600s, the farming community started developing.

So what happened in Paarl between 1700 and 1800?

In the beginning of the 1700s the French and European Dutch settlers started settling in on their farms, this area basically consisted of 20 farms, very little structures, the Berg River, the mountains and very arable and fertile land.

The establishment of a congregation and the building of the first church in Paarl in 1720 were the first signs of a brand-new town

Timeline – see pics

1720 – First church “Die Strooidak Kerk”

1723 – Pontac manor house

1764 – Bethel Building Ou Meul Street – oldest building in Paarl

1784 – De Oude Woning – Main Road/Auret Str

1787 – Oude Pastorie Building – Paarl Museum behind Virgin Active

1787 – Strooidak Church house rebuilt

1795 – De Goede Verwachtung – Today Backs restaurant opposite Bossa Nova

Paarl can boast with the oldest church still in use in the country: The “Strooidak Church” completed in 1805, on the site of the original 1787 property, as well as the longest main road in the country!

During this period structures were built on the farms, religious congregation developed and Paarl started its journey as a world class wine and wagon making town, preparing for the 1800’s where Paarl boomed into a town that played a massive role in SA history, politically and economically.

At the end of the 1700s, Paarl population included French and Dutch settlers as farmers, and the farm workers were made up of slaves from various countries and some of the Khoi who remained in the area.

Period between 1800-1900 is up next. This period is where Paarl develops into a very important town in SA history!



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