Parker's History


Parker Cottage Bed and Breakfast in the Cape Town City Bowl is, in fact, two magnificent Victorian houses. The houses are now joined to form one grand guesthouse.

Parker Cottage is named after a rather enigmatic and multi-faceted figure, Scottish architect John Parker. This original Victorian cottage was not only designed and built by him but he also lived in it for a while. He was also very briefly the first mayor of greater Cape Town (1913 – 1915). Numbers 1 and 3 Carstens street were completed in 1895.

John Parker was active in civic and church affairs. He became mayor of Cape Town in 1913 and was a founder member of the South African Society of Architects and the Cape Institute of Architects. He designed many of Cape Town’s landmark buildings, particularly schools. His firm (Parker and Forsyth) designed and built the Observatory Girls School, Rhenish School Stellenbosch, Sea Point Girls School, Sea Point Boys School, the South African College School (SACS), Hugenot School Wellington, and the Wynberg Girls School. When the British Hotel was completely destroyed by a fire in 1841, the design was done by John Parker, with construction completed in 1897.

One of his most famous buildings is the Great Synagogue in the Company's Gardens.

Parker was one of the first architects to use locally dressed Table Mountain sandstone as a building material. This is evident in the Observatory School. Parker made his name by managing to fit a lot of space into urban buildings, while retaining impressive frontages. The long corridors, halls and high ceilings he used are similar other Victorian buildings of the time.