James Walton family and Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa (VASSA) members visit to Special Collections

On 03 April 2024 Special Collections received a group of 14 visitors to view the documents from the James Walton Collection (MS 247) housed at Special collections, SU Library. Some of the documents are also available on SUNDigital  https://digital.lib.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.2/312

James Walton was born in Yorkshire in 1911 and died in Cape Town in 1999. He is well-known for his pioneering studies of the vernacular architecture of many countries in Africa, Europe and the Far East. He had authored more than 200 papers in journals, chapters and several books on vernacular architecture, including homesteads and villages, and mills in South Africa.

James Walton was honoured on various occasions for his outstanding work.  In 1992 he donated his valuable collection to the University of Stellenbosch for research purposes. To enable access to the documents the collection was indexed and catalogued in 1993. The complete collection consists of manuscripts, drawings, photographs, newsletters, lectures, portfolios, albums, plans, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and brochures.

The visitors included five family members of James Walton: His granddaughter, Jennifer Trewin, her husband (Pete) and their two daughters (Connie and Georgia) and George Todd (Son-in -law to James Walton) who are visiting South Africa from the UK.

Nine members from the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa (VASSA) accompanied the James Walton Family. They visited the Special Collections in celebration of their 60th anniversary this year and to also commemorate James Walton as the founding member of the organisation.

Some of the members of Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa (VASSA) and some of the James Walton Family members viewing the documents from the James Walton Collection

The purpose of the visit was:

    • for Research and publication opportunities
    • to view the different Vernacular Architecture collections available at Special Collections e.g. James Walton, Andre Pretorius and Johanna Marx collections.

The visit was organised by Antonia Malan and Pat Kramer. Members that attended were (Joy Woodward, Avis Fisher, Alex Dodge, Raph Malan, Anton Roux, Roshan Bhurtha and Elliz Maritz.

Staff of Special Collection welcomed the visitors by showcasing some of the James Walton authored books (housed in Africana), documents, manuscripts, drawings and slides kept in specially made boxes in the Manuscript section, Special Collections.

The Index & Catalogue of the collection was placed on display for them to showcase what is in the actual collection.

See below feedback from the visitors after the visit:

Dear all,

“A huge heartfelt thank you for making us all feel so welcome today. I know Grandad would be utterly delighted that we all gathered – he was happiest when folk about him were happy. To see his collection was quite something! Thank you for all you are doing to maintain it. Aren’t we lucky to have Stellenbosch University Library taking such good care.  Our love and thanks to you all”  George, Jen, Connie, Georgia and Pete

By Special Collections staff