Robben Island Leper Church

Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd (generally known as the Lepers' Church) was built by the lepers themselves in 1895 to the designs of the distinguished architect Sir Herbert Baker. The money for the church came from the Rev. W.V. Watkins. The stone was quarried on the island.

It was an Anglican church, and only to be used by men and was not provided with pews. It had no pews, because lepers could only stand or lie.

A general infirmary was established on Robben Island in 1846 to receive the chronically sick, insane and lepers and relieve pressure on mainland hospitals. There was over 1 000 lepers on the island at some point. The lepers were all moved to Pretoria in 1930. In 1931 all leper buildings, with the exception of the Church of the Good Shepherd, were burned and demolished.

The graves surrounding the Church of the Good Shepherd are those of lepers who died on the island.

Church of the Good Sheperd

Church of the Good Sheperd. (photo: Danie van der Merwe, Creative Commons license)


  • Decimal degrees: -33.805536 (Latitude) 18.376642 (Longitude)
  • Degrees, Minutes & Seconds: S33 48 19 (Latitude) E18 22 35 (Longitude)
  • GPS: S 33 48.332 (Latitude) E 18 22.559 (Longitude)
  • UTM: 34S 257155 (X) 6256311 (Y)
  • Above sea level: 36 ft / 11 m

... also on Robben Island.

... more Cape Town Churches.