Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Badulla St. Mark's Church

Badulla St. Mark's Church
St. Mark's Church (Sinhala: බදුල්ල ශාන්ත මාර්ක් දේවස්ථානය) is an Anglican church situated in Badulla town, Sri Lanka. It was erected by locals in 1857 in the memory of the colonial British officer Major Thomas William Rogers [(1804–1845) Lewis, 1913].

History
Before 1857
There was not a church building in Badulla before 1857 and the church services were conducted in the local courthouse by the priests who came from Nuwara Eliya. In 1846, a Bishop named James Chapman visited Badulla while on a tour in Nuwara Eliya. He conducted a service in the Badulla courthouse on 24 February, attended by district officials and coffee planters. On the next day, he organized a public meeting for the locals from the neighbourhood and Europeans living in Uva and made preliminary arrangements to build a new church in Badulla.

The church was finally erected at the present site in memory of Thomas William Rogers by 1857 with the contribution of the people of all religions and races in Badulla. It was consecrated on 25 April 1857 (St. Mark's day) by Bishop James Chapman.
 
Thomas William Rogers
Major Thomas William Rogers was a British colonial administrator, soldier and sportsman. He joined the Ceylon Rifle Regiment on 7 January 1824 as a 2nd Lieutenant and was appointed as the Assistant Government Agent at Badulla in 1834 (Lewis, 1913). He, during his tenure of office as Assistant Government Agent, had rendered yeoman service for the development of the area (Abeyawardana, 2004). As found in records, he had killed as many as 1,500 wild elephants and that made him unpopular among people although he had earned a reputation for his services (Abeyawardana, 2004; Lewis, 1913). He died on 7 June 1845, struck by lightning at the Haputale Pass bungalow (Lewis, 1913). His body was buried at the Cemetery at Nuwara Eliya.

In the church, there is a tablet with two inscriptions in English and in Sinhala (Lewis, 1913). Of them, the English inscription can be read as follows;
A.D. 1845. This Church was erected to the honour of God in memory of Thomas William Rogers, Major, Ceylon Rifle Regiment, Assistant Government Agent and District Judge of Badulla, by all classes of his people, friends, and admirers. He was killed by Lightning at Haputale June 7th, 1845, aged 41.
The first vicar at the church was Rev. E. Mooyart. Rev. William J. P. Waltham, the vicar, from 1900 to 1925 established a missionary school at Medagama which later became Uva College. In 1921 he built the bell tower of the church with the money donated by W.E.T. Sharpe, the churchwarden.

A protected site
The Church of St. Mark and the bell tower situated in the Grama Niladhari Division No. 78-D-Badulla Centre, in Badulla Divisional Secretary’s Division are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 6 June 2008.

 
References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.211.
2) Lewis, J. P., 1913. List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon, of historical or local interest with an obituary of persons uncommemorated: Colombo. pp.291,323,357-359.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1553. 6 June 2008. p.530.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 26 April 2022
For a complete tourist map follow this link: Lankapradeepa Tourist Map

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