The Anglo-Boer War Museum
Did you know?
The Anglo-Boer War featured the first use of concentration camps during wartime.
The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein commemorates the Anglo-Boer War (now called the South African War) of 1899 to 1902, an inevitable conflict given the clash between the imperialism of Britain and the nationalism of the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State republics.
While the British had believed that the threat posed by these little states was negligible, the reality was that they were more powerful than most realised.
This led to calamitous disasters for the British Army at the outset, but by the middle of the war they had annexed the two republics. That, however, was not the end of the matter as the war entered a bitter two-year insurgency.
To contain the conflict the British commander, Lord Kitchener, introduced the notorious scorched earth policy in March 1901. The idea was to sweep the country bare of anything that could sustain the Boers, including their women, children and black farmhands.
These folk were placed in the world's first concentration, where thousands succumbed to illness in poor living conditions.
For those wanting insight into the conflict there is no better place than the Anglo-Boer War Museum. Using art collections, dioramas and exhibits, the museum details the causes of the war and how it unfolded.
There is art on show too, including an exhibit of painted tiles depicting Boer life during the war, which were found in a store in Holland in 1969, and other works of art in the Kestell and Hobhouse galleries.
In close proximity, and attached to this Bloemfontein war museum, is the National Women's Memorial. Built in 1913, it is dedicated ‘to the glorious memory of the mothers, women and children, who, during the war, passed away, or had otherwise suffered bitterly, either in the concentration camps or outside'.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Anglo-Boer War Museum
Tel: +27 (0)51 447 3447/0079
How to get here
The Anglo-Boer War Museum is found in Monument Road in central Bloemfontein. It is easily accessible by car, bus or taxi.
Best time to visit
The Anglo-Boer War Museum is open weekdays from 8am to 4.30pm, Saturday from 10am to 5pm, Sundays from 11pm to 5pm, and public holidays from 9am to 5pm.
Around the area
Other historical attractions in Bloemfontein include the Choet Visser Rugby Museum and the Freshford House Museum.
Length of stay
Give yourself at least half a day to explore the Anglo-Boer War Museum and the National Women's Memorial.
Where to stay
Bloemfontein has a number of quality establishments from budget B&Bs to luxury hotels.
What to eat
Try some traditional Afrikaaner or Setswana fare while you're in this part of the country. Bloemfontein has many restaurants serving the specialities of the region.