Religion 1846 – now

The Garrison Church, 1933.
Robben Island served as a General Infirmary between 1846 and 1931.It served as a means of isolating people that were chronically ill, with mental health conditions or leprosy. The churches on the Island offered spiritual comfort to the ailing. There were 7 churches representing different denominations at the peak of the Christian involvement, which was integrated into life on the Island. These churches represented the Anglican, Dutch Reformed and Roman Catholic denominations. Pastors from other denominations such as the Moravian churches visited the Island often. The churches were constructed at different times in the history of the Island for specific groups of people, for example for women with leprosy.
The Dutch Reform Church, which was demolished at the same time as the buildings that housed people with leprosy.
Only the Garrison and Good Shepherd Churches of that historic time remain standing today. The Cape gothic style Garrison Church is situated within the Village precinct and was constructed in 1841 with prison labour. The Church of the Good Shepherd was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and was constructed from stone. This church was initially used by men with leprosy, and then abandoned in 1931 when the Leprosarium was closed. It is however the only remaining building of that time. During WW2, in 1942, it was re-furbished and re-consecrated as the Naval Church. Prisoners incarcerated on the Island during the Apartheid imprisonment period, used the Church for a brief time. The Church is owned by the Anglican Church of the Province of South Africa. It was restored in 2001 and is currently used for special services and commemorative events.
The Garrison Church as it is today.
The Church of the Good Shepherd.
In 1894, the Dutch Reformed Church Parsonage, situated within the Village precinct, was built for the resident chaplain ministering to people with leprosy. During WW2 it was converted into an Officers Mess. In the 1960’s, during the political imprisonment period, it was used as a guest house. It was refurbished, altered and connected to the Commissioner’s residency in 1989. It now forms part of the current guesthouse.
Interior of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Tour Details


Cape Town
Light Rain
05:4019:19 SAST
Feels like: 15°C
Wind: 18km/h NW
Humidity: 90%
Pressure: 1017.27mbar
UV index: 0


South Africans
R400 per adult
R210 per child (U/18)

Non South Africans
R600 per adult
R310 per child (U/18)

Tour Times
09:00  |  11:00  |  13:00  15:00