Thomas Robson

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The Very Revd Thomas Claude Robson was the first Anglican Dean of Kimberley, and Rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley, South Africa.

St Cyprians Cathedral, Kimberley Church in Kimberley, South Africa

The Cathedral Church of St Cyprian the Martyr, Kimberley, is the seat of the Bishop of the Kimberley and Kuruman, Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The building was dedicated in 1908, becoming a Cathedral when the Synod of Bishops mandated formation of the new Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in October 1911. The first Bishop, the Rt Revd Wilfrid Gore Browne, was enthroned there on 30 June 1912.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

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Background and prospects at St Cyprian’s in 1905

Canon Robson came to St Cyprian’s Church in 1905, a Parish still worshiping in a wood and iron church in Jones Street, Kimberley, a structure imported as a prefabricated kit from England in 1879. Grand plans for a new church had been proposed in a public meeting in 1901, but little progress had been made towards their realisation. Archdeacon William Arthur Holbech, who had been Rector at the time, had gone on to become Dean of Bloemfontein. Robson’s predecessor, Archdeacon H.A. Douglas-Hamilton, was appointed in 1903, encountering an impatient faction within the congregation who additionally were at odds with the Archdeacon’s churchmanship – specifically with respect to liturgical practices. This faction removed itself from the parish, building its own brick church of St John the Evangelist in Woodley Street – a parish of decidedly low church persuasion. Prospects for the new rector could hardly have seemed less auspicious.

Robson’s achievement

And yet Thomas Claude Robson, presiding over the parish for very nearly three decades, would oversee perhaps the greatest transformation in the history of St Cyprian’s: the design of a cathedral; the completion of the first two major phases of this long-term project; and the building up of a mother church for a new and vast diocese. St Cyprian’s would no longer simply be a parish church. A newspaper feature in 1923, on ‘Men in the Public Eye’, pronounced: “He is the Dean of Kimberley and Kimberley loves its Dean.”

Milestones of Robson’s Kimberley career

Pietermaritzburg Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838 and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its Zulu name umGungundlovu is the name used for the district municipality. Pietermaritzburg is popularly called Maritzburg in English and Zulu alike, and often informally abbreviated to PMB. It is a regionally important industrial hub, producing aluminium, timber and dairy products, as well as the main economic hub of Umgungundlovu District Municipality. The public sector is a major employer in the city due to the local, district and provincial governments being located here. It is home to many schools and tertiary education institutions, including a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It had a population of 228,549 in 1991; the current population is estimated at over 600,000 residents and has one of the largest populations of Indian South Africans in South Africa.

Wilfrid Gore Browne was an Anglican bishop, the first Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman from 1912 to 1928. He was described as a saintly bishop with "a keen sense of humour" and "a winning courtesy."

The building up of the Cathedral as a unifying symbol of the diocese was part of Robson’s vision: he believed, as he put it in the Cathedral News in 1916, that “if the Cathedral suffers the whole Diocese suffers, but if the Cathedral prospers the whole Diocese prospers.”

Foundation Stone rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

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Sanctuary sacred place

A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a safe place for humans, such as a political sanctuary; and non-human sanctuary, such as an animal or plant sanctuary.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

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References

    Anglican Church of Southern Africa titles
    Preceded by
    Inaugural
    Dean of Kimberley
    1912 1934
    Succeeded by
    Hugh Scott Chignell