"An insight into Paul Kruger's world" Top 5 Page for this destination Pretoria Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt
Pretoria Things to Do: 164 reviews and 239 photos
It took me a quarter of a century to visit the Paul Kruger House in Pretoria, and even then, I visited on a whim because I had an hour to kill over lunchtime between business meetings. So, faced with the choice between feeding my face and feeding my mind (and VT pages), I decided that I would finally address this oversight.
Paul Kruger House was where Kruger lived before he fled from the British (and ultimately went into exile) after the fall of Pretoria in the Anglo Boer War. It is an attractive single storey house built in the Cape Dutch style, and is of surpringly modest proportions considering that it was used for State as well as personal purposes (for an interesting contrast, have a look at the Old Presidency building in Bloemfontein, which housed the leaders of the Boer Republic of the Orange Free State - Kruger's contemporaries - amid much more imposingly elegant surroundings). It is also endearingly homespun in certain aspects: for instance, the ceilings in the main reception rooms are made of plain wood planks, but have had strips of wood somewhat inexpertly applied to the surface to give them a more ornate, moulded appearance.
The interior is furnished in a characteristic gloomy Victorian style, complete with stiffbacked chairs and framed samplers featuring inspirational texts, and it's difficult to imagine anyone ever relaxing there. But then relaxation wasn't part of the strictly Calvinistic ethos that the Kruger family espoused, so that wouldn't have been a consideration. The Krugers were deeply religious - even by the religious standards of the time - and even the guards that were posted at the entrance to the house were required to stand up when the family was at prayer inside. The photos convey a sense is one of a closeknit and unostentatious family who did not court the limelight - indeed, there is a distinct sense that Kruger disliked being an international figure and would much rather that he and his people had been left alone to focus on their farms and traditional way of life.
The house is fairly interesting, but what I found far more absorbing were the exhibits that have been established in a series of outbuildings at the back of the house. These include the railway carriage from which the Transvaal Government operated in Machadodorp after the fall of Pretoria (see my other Pretoria travel tip and my Machadodorp page) and also document Kruger's period in exile. The exile material is particularly poignant, as it conveys a sense of earnest desperation as an ageing Kruger tried to muster support and resources for his cause to unseat the British against a backdrop of general apathy, with his only real champion being the young Queen of the Netherlands.
Paul Kruger House is located on the western edge of the Pretoria CBD, and there is some street parking outside the house. It is directly opposite the Paul Kruger Church, and it is located between Kruger's grave in the Church Street cemetery (a short drive to the west) and Paul Kruger's statue in Church Square (an even shorter stroll to the east), so you could easily combine all of these into a morning or afternoon, after which you would be all Krugered out!
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