Sophia (Sophy) Gray designed no fewer than 40 of the 50 Anglican churches built during her husband Robert Gray’s bishopric. She was the first woman to practise architecture in South Africa, and one of the earliest to do so in the world. No mean feat for a woman who was a wife during the Victorian era, and a mother to five children.
Perhaps Sophy managed to escape the full impact of the crinoline, and its relegation of women to the home, when she moved with her husband from England after he was assigned the colonial bishopric of the Cape of Good Hope. Part of his remit was to build churches.
Robert and Sophy Gray arrived in 1848 to settle on the farm Boschheuvel, originally known as Wijnberg, and later called Bishopscourt. With her Sophy brought drawings and plans of church architecture that she felt would best adapt to South African conditions. She added her own sketches of styles and details that shaped the form of Anglican churches all over South Africa, conferring often with the British ecclesiastical architect W. Butterfield. Continued