Save oldest mansion in Moratuwa from the Police

The oldest surviving stately home (Walauwwa) of Moratuwa is now in a sad state of neglect and dilapidation and is in great danger of being condemned and demolished very soon. It is situated on the stretch of the old Galle Road between the start of the marine drive and the old bridge and has been occupied by the Moratuwa police for decades.

The Police department has allowed this building to go to wrack and ruin during the decades during which this historic building was under their care. Probably the Police Department has plans to demolish this heritage home and award a multi million rupee contract to someone to build a large nondescript complex on its extensive garden.

This is the childhood home of Lady Catherine, wife of the legendary philanthropist of Sri Lanka, Sir Charles Henry de Soysa (A. D. 1836 – 1890) and this is where their wedding reception was held, way back in the year 1863. It was built by Lady Catherine’s father, Chevalier Juse de Silva of the ancient and now widespread "Thakura Arthadeva Adithya Guardiyawasam Lindamulage" family.

The "Thakura Arthadeva Adithya Guardiyawasam Lindamulage" family is an ancient Sri Lankan clan which traces it’s descent through the Kotte and Yapahuwa kingdoms to the Kshatriya clans of India. An ancient sword owned by this family is on display at the Colombo museum and the inscription on the sword carries the family name. This family has had marriage alliances with the Keerawelle family of the Hatara Korale and royalty of the Kotte era. The ancient Pancharanga (flag of five stripes) banner of the family was provided to the flag committee by Mrs. G. J. R. de Soysa in 1882 and was the prototype for the modern Buddhist flag.

An English translation of an old ola document outlining some facets of family history is reproduced on page 668 of Arnold Wright’s Twentieth Century impressions of Ceylon. This account narrated by an ancestor of the family on his death bed is understandably rather garbled. However it is possible to glean valuable historical data about the family as well as the turbulent Kotte period by objectively analyzing this account.

This stately home now on the verge of collapse was a trail blazer to the dozens of large stately homes that were built on the western coasts and interior of Sri Lanka during the century which followed. This is one of the earliest, or possibly the oldest surviving example of Sri Lanka’s advent into grand family mansions. As such this is a stately home that should be preserved for posterity and used to illustrate that turning point, that glorious golden age of Sri Lanka’s past and Sri Lanka’s advent into the Industrial era.

This is an appeal to the Commissioner of Police and to all Sri Lankans who are interested in Sri Lanka’s architectural, historical, economic and social heritage of our country to restore and preserve this stately home which is an integral part of our cultural heritage.

Yours faithfully
Ravi Perera

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