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Gwen Fagan

Gwen Fagan

Author of
Roses at the Cape of Good Hope,
historical publications and an autobiography

Gwen Fagan was a medical practitioner until 1969 and is working now with
Gabriël Fagan Architects as a historical researcher and landscape planner.

Gwendoline Elizabeth Fagan was born on 25 September 1924 in the little Karoo Town of Victoria West. Her mother's family dates back to the early days of the Cape. Her father, Benjamin Charles Gannon, an Irishman, eloped when Gwen was two. She grew up in the care of an uncle on a farm of the grain-growing district of Morreesburg.
At seven she went to live with her mother, then a singing teacher in Stellenbosch.
Gwen's longing for the farm life inspired her to make a garden in a shop yard and she has been an ardent gardener ever since.
Gwendoline attended Rhenish Girls' High School at Stellenbosch , where she matriculated in December 1942. She studied Medicine at the University of Cape Town (MB.CH.B. 1948) and worked as a medical practitioner until 1969.
Afterwards she joined her husband's firm, Gabriël Fagan Architects, as a historical researcher and landscape planner.
1995: PhD at the University of Cape Town: An Introduction to the man - made landscape at the Cape from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Gwen Fagan is married to Gabriël Fagan since 1949. They have a son and three daughters.

Recent and present academic activities:
(1) Research into early Cape defences with particular reference to the Chavonnes Battery to form part of an exhibit for the Battery ruins and for the ruin reconstruction. The exhibition was opened on 1 December 2001.
(2) A publication on the work of G T Fagan
(3) A publication of the thesis on the Man-made landscape 1652 - 1900

A rose named Gwen FaganA rose named 'Gwen Fagan' by Ludwig's Roses

Awards and Honours:

1973: Gold Medal with G T Fagan from the National Monuments Council for the research and restoration work in Church Street and the Drostdy in Tulbagh.
1987: Cape Tercentenary Award for historical research and historical landscape restoration.
1992: Gold medal from the Simon van der Stel Foundation for her contribution to the conservation of South Africa's historic gardens and architecture.

Honorary Doctorate:
1993: D.Phil (HC) from the University of Stellenbosch 1993.

Honorary Membership:

1991: Institute of South African Architects
1992: APES (Society of Architects Planners Engineers and Surveyors)
1994: Institute of Landscape Architects

Designs for Historical Landscapes:

Tuynhuys: late 18th century parterre garden
Boschendal: early 19th century werf
Drostdy Tulbagh: early 19th century small garden
Drostdy Museum, Swellendam Mayville: Victorian Rose Garden
Rust & Vreugd Museum garden: early 19th century
Worcester Agricultural Museum: landscape plan around replica buildings
Arbeidsgenot: (Langenhoven house) Oudtshoorn: 1930s garden
Klein Constantia: landscape around new wine cellar next to old 18th century werf
Welgelegen: restoration of 19th century garden (not yet executed)
Castle of Good Hope
Leeuwenhof: 18th Century terraced kitchen garden

Lectures:
University of Cape Town Summer School 1996.
University of Cape Town on the 18th Century manmade landscape of the Cape 2000.
Speaker at many International Rose Conferences, Gwen published many articles regarding restoration projects in restoration journals.
Gwen and G T Fagan publish their books themselves and distribute them very successfully from their own publishing house, Breestraat-Publikasies.

Books

Co-author with husband G T Fagan:
"Church Street in the Land of Waveren",
(Kerkstraat in't Land van Waveren), 1975

"Roses at the Cape of Good Hope", 1988 - 2011

"Nauti se Gwendoline", 1999 (Afrikaans biography of her childhood)

Elsenburg - a chapter on the history and architecture of the 18th Century farm complex

You can order Gwen's books via

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Text by Gwen Fagan, December 2001

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