“She was No Lady”- South Africa

“I write of South Africa, where my heart sometimes resides, and my mind often drifts back to, across the distance of lands and oceans. An Africa that always beats with a strong heart of different people, languages and cultures, who irrefutably call this land their home.South Africa

From – Knysna beside the ocean, we are going to travel 1099km to Ladysmith, L for Ladysmith.

no lady…. no,  she was all woman!!

Lady Smith.

juana smithJuana María de los Dolores de León Smith, born in 1798 in Spain to a family of nobility, was orphaned in 1812.  Ladysmith in Natal is named after her; she was the wife of General Sir Harry Smith, Governor of the Cape Colony.

There is an amazing story of how they met in Spain.  Harry, British, was fighting beside the Portuguese army during the Peninsular war, when two sisters sought protection after their town had been beseiged, her face was streaming with blood.  Juana and Harry fell in love and were married two days later with the Duke of Wellington as witness.

Instead of letting herself be sent home to her ‘new’ husband’s family in England, she chose to accompany him with the army, sleeping in the open on the field of battle, riding freely among the troops, and sharing all the privations of campaigning. Her beauty, courage, sound judgment and amiable character endeared her to the officers.  She was idolized by the soldiers.

Juana went on to accompany him all over the world to wars and appointments, including Harry’s term as governer of the Cape in South Africa on two occasions between 1828 and 1847.  They were well liked and both Harry and Juana, had towns named after them.  Harrismith in the Free State and Ladysmith in Natal.

Ladysmith centre

Ladysmith is located on the banks of the Klip River (stone river),  and at the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains

These are a collection of  buildings and structures in and around Ladysmith, which is most famous for battles fought during the Boer Wars almost 50 years after Sir Harry’s time there.

Above is the town centre.

Soofi Mosque

This is Soofi mosque built in between 1895 and 1910.


Anglo Boer War memorial to the Boers on Wagon Hill, Ladysmith.

Boers at war

Above is a group of Boer soldiers and below is a monument on Spioenkop to the British that lost their lives.  Over 3000 died, many from disease.

Memorial  Below is a view of the British returning from battle to Ladysmith where they were based, but almost trapped by Boer fighters.  The seige was over when relief troops defeated the boers, and marched into Ladysmith.  On that day, in February 1900,  Winston Churchill, a young war correspondent from London Morning Post was with them.

British Soldiers  failed attack

Buildings and structures so diverse in age and style.

Ladysmith 3

Art. Roadside decorations marking the entrance of the town of Ladysmith.


And still the reminder of War.

Ladysmith Memorial Hall

This is part of (and a little early for) the Alphabe Thursday Challenge. Letter ‘L’


About liz2you

Life just happens when you plan something else. 50 years spent in Africa and relevant stories.
This entry was posted in Alphabet Thursday, History, South Africa, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “She was No Lady”- South Africa

  1. Your photographs and knowledge of South African colonial history are impressive. Keep up the good work!

  2. Wow! I learned a lot! Thank you for this wonderful post.

  3. Gattina says:

    Very interesting post !

  4. Pondside says:

    How interesting! We have a town near here called Ladysmith, and this is what Wikipedia has to say about its name “The town was named in honour of the British victory in a battle during the Second Boer War in Ladysmith, South Africa, which in turn was named after Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith also known as Lady Smith, the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the British Governor of the Cape Colony at the time.”

  5. Tracy says:

    Lovely photographs

  6. Oh wow!

    This was an incredibly fascinating post!

    I learned so much from this letter “L”!


    This was one of my favorite “L” links!


  7. liz2you says:

    Thanks Jenny,

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