Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Gordon Gardens (Colombo)

Gordon Gardens Colombo
Gordon Gardens (Sinhala: ගෝර්ඩන් උද්‍යානය) is a non-public park attached to the President's House in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

History
Tomb of Prince Don Juan Dharmapala
The park was originally an open ground with a cemetery at the time of the Portuguese arrival on the island in 1505 (Manathunga, 2016). St. Lawrence, the first church by the Portuguese was erected on this site (Manathunga, 2016). The body of Prince Don Juan Dharmapala (1550-1597 A.D.) of the Kotte Kingdom who received the support of the Portuguese was buried at the St. Francis Church which was erected on the same site later (Manathunga, 2016). This church was demolished by the Dutch (Dutch Ceylon: 1640-1796) who took the control of Portuguese-held areas of the island in 1640 (Manathunga, 2016). The Dutch built their official VOC Church (Dutch East India Company) on the Portuguese church site but maintained the old cemetery intact for their burials (Manathunga, 2016).

The Banyan tree planted by Lady Ridgeway
The British expelled the Dutch in 1796 and annexed the entire island to the British empire in 1815. The church of the site was removed by the British and they started to use the ground for various purposes. In 1813, the remaining tombstones of the old church were removed to the Wolvendaal Church in Pettah and the ground was used for holding cricket and football matches until 1935 (Manathunga, 2016). It is said that the tomb of Prince Don Juan Dharmapala, which had a Portuguese inscription, was also among the tombstones removed to the Wolvendaal Church in 1813 (Lewis, 1913).

The British Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon converted part of the ground into a park comprising flowers and fountains in honour of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) during her golden jubilee celebrations held in 1887 (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). On 22 June 1897, a Banyan tree was planted in this garden by Lady Ridgeway in commemoration of the diamond jubilee of the reign of Victoria. The Marble Statue of Victoria which was also erected to mark the diamond jubilee was placed in Gordon Gardens until it was removed from the premises amid fears of bad luck. This statue is presently placed on the site near the back entrance to the Colombo National Museum.

The park was maintained as a public park until 1980 when it was made part of the President's House (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

Gordon Gardens Colombo.
References
1) 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.v,102.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.12-13. 
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.18.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 27 September 2022

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