During the 1840’s a Christian revival movement in Lower Saxony, Germany, resulted in great interest in mission work. Pastor Louis Harms was the main driving force behind the Hermannsburg Mission.

He trained suitable young men as missionaries, sending them out – together with craftsmen – to establish mission stations in Africa. About 240 missionaries were sent out over the next 100 years, and they always came to Hermannsburg first – to learn the isiZulu language – before moving on throughout what was then Zululand, Natal and Transvaal to start mission stations. Most German families in these areas are descendants of those settlers.

The Old Mission House was built by the first group of eight missionaries and eight craftsmen, soon after their arrival in 1854. It has been established that the “Old Kitchen” – the very first building they built –  is one of the three oldest, dated buildings in Kwazulu-Natal, still of original construction. Both buildings were constructed of sun-dried bricks. The building timber, consisting of Umdoni (Waterberry) and Yellowwood, was cut into beams and boards by the men themselves. 

The Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg was also founded in 1856 by the first group of missionaries and was the very first boarding school in Natal. In 1862, Pastor Heinrich Müller became headmaster. He emphasised the importance of educating the children of members of the Lutheran Church in a school that was strongly affiliated to the church, but was open to all who wanted to avail themselves of the excellent educational opportunities offered by the school.

This necessitated the introduction of more English-speaking teachers, in order to be able to cater for a wider spectrum of South Africans. Pastor Müller’s tremendous­ capacity for hard work and his real gift as a teacher soon won the recognition and trust of parents and school authorities.

English-speaking parents readily sent their children to Hermannsburg because of the high level of education offered at the school – especially while the controversy around Bishop Colenso lasted, and before Hilton College and Michaelhouse were founded.

Hermannsburg has the oldest hostel building in South Africa. The School was initially owned by the Lutheran Church, but is now owned and run by a Trust.

Opening Hours

08:00 to 15:00 on weekdays. After hours by appointment.

Contact Details:

Museum: 074 125 0054
Email: museum@hmbschool.co.za
Public Relations: pro@hmbschool.co.za

Open Tuesday – Friday   |  09:00 – 15:00
At the Museum