Kalutara De Fonseka Places

Telford Lodge, Kalutara

‘Telford Lodge’ was the home of John Henry de Fonseka. His children Henry Frederick, E.C, Frank, Luke, Emmy and Louise de Fonseka spent the early part of their lives in this house. Later on Frank de Fonseka settled down in this property. His daughter Mary Grace married the son of James Fretz de Fonseka who lived in the adjoining property ‘James Place’.

‘Telford Lodge’ was one of the five ‘Wallawwa’s of Kalutara North. They were ‘James Place’, ‘Telford Lodge’, ‘Felix Villa’ (or ‘Luke Wallawwa’), ‘Nutmeg Grove’ and ‘Gandara Walawwa’. All but two have been demolished. Only ‘Gandara Wallawwa’ retains its old splendor today. ‘Nutmeg Grove’ which appears in the book ‘20th Century Impressions’, exists with heavy modifications. Felix Villa was taken over by the government to build police bungalows.

In the above photograph taken around 2004, the Employees Trust Fund office and a photographic studio by the name of ‘Hightone’ and a Saw Mill, occupy this land.

A photo taken from the Google Street View around 2018, shows a largely unaltered view from that of 2004.

Church of St. John the Baptist, Kalutara North

The Church of St John the Baptist, Kalutara North was the place of worship for many of the de Fonseka families. They also helped in many ways to build this church. Mary Grace de Fonseka gifted the statue at the main entrance of the church.

In the early years people of the area congregated at a small school hut, for the Sunday mass. Most of the land belonged to Eu Premiyano Mariyano (E.P.M) Fernando, a wealthy businessman of the area. His daughter Victoria Fernando married Frank de Fonseka of Telford Lodge, but tragedy struck when Victoria died giving birth to Dora Victorine de Fonseka. She was later buried in this property. EPM who was a devoted catholic contributed heavily to the effort to build a permanent church for the Catholics of Kalutara North. It is said that EPM who was the main benefactor, got the church designed so that the Tabernacle of the church was on top of the grave of his beloved daughter.

Picture shows the Church of St John the Baptist (Inset the statue gifted by Mary Grace De Fonseka in later years) and on right the tabernacle of the church.

Kalutara North Cemetery:

The cemetery at Kalutara North is the final resting place for many de Fonseka’s. On a recent visit it was noticed that a few graves belonging to the de Fonseka families in the Christian section, have been destroyed.

Carolis de Fonseka, (son of Harmanis de Fonseka) and Jagath Wijenayaka his nephew. Jagath Wijenayaka was the president of the Kshastriya Maha Sabha. 

James Place, Kalutara

James Place’ was the property of James Fretz de Fonseka and was named after him. A part of this property was subsequently gifted to his eldest son Francis Simon. Francis Simon in turn gifted this to his four sons, who settled in the suburbs of Colombo, and gave the property on rent. After a legal battle to evict the tenant, the property was finally sold in the 1970’s. Today, the daughter of the former family jeweler owns part of this property. Her son has now built a house and a machine workshop on the premises. Of the old house, only the well remains. The Road Development Authority demolished part of the boundary wall in 1999.

The well from the old house is the only thing left of ‘James Place’

Although James Place is no more, part of the timber work still lives on in the house of Dr Gerinus Jayasekere. This bit of information was provided by Dr Srilal Fernando. ‘Last week we had a visitor from Sri lanka Dr Gerinus Jayasekera, Professor of Surgery at the Medical faculty in Colombo. Some years ago while traveling down south he saw a house with nice doors at Kalutara. He stopped his car and asked the surprised occupants whether they would sell him the doors and windows and he would pay a good price for them . The occupant was a tenant but forwarded Geri’s details to the owners in Colombo. Some months later Geri received a call from the owners (Ian de Fonseka) to say that the house was being demolished. Geri went with his architect Ismeth Raheem and bought all the material from the house. His house in Colombo now has the doorways and windows and 90 % of the timber is from the De Fonseka house in Kalutara.

Part of the original James place property also lies across the Galle Road. When the bridge at Kalutara was built by the British, the road to the ferry was discontinued,  and land belonging to James Place was acquired to build the new access road, effectively dividing the property into two. James Fretz gifted the land to the west of the new Road to Lily Louisa (daughter), while the land to the east including James Place was gifted to Francis Simon (eldest son). As they had no children, both the families of Vincent Fernando and Francis Simon De Fonseka lay claim to the land. The picture on the left shows this property. 


 Kalutara Town Club

The Kalutara Town Club (KTC), situated on prime property just behind the Temple and the Library, was a social venue for most de Fonseka’s. Francis Simon de Fonseka, a lawyer by profession was a stalwart of the club and represented the club in the premier cricket tournaments. Francis Simon also played cricket for Royal College and captained the teams in 1903/4 (see photo below). His photo was ceremoniously unveiled by the club in the 60’s and hangs in the lobby to date. Two of his sons C.A.B de Fonseka (Achille) and E.D.I de Fonseka (Ian) also played for the club. Both of them appear in a photograph found in the club premises that was taken in 1959 as a farewell to Billy Porritt.


The Kalutara North Football Team (1939)

Standing L to R:
           3rd from left – Baachinta Jamon (son of the excise commissioner), 5th from left Paul Perera, 7th from left Samson Perera and 8th from left Chandrapala.
Seated L to R:
            Two School Masters, The Principal , Francis Simon De Fonseka, Mr Jamon (Excise Inspector), Pastor from the Methodist Church (Kalutara North), Unidentified, F.J.B De Fonseka (Bellarmine), Unidentified.
Seated on the ground:
            C. A. B De Fonseka (Achille) and Shadin Jamon (son of the excise commissioner, now domiciled in Canada)

This picture which was found in a box of stuff to be thrown away, was rescued and It  was in a remarkably good condition at the time of discovery. It is included here in this site, due to the great period feel, it contains and conveys to us. The persons pictured belonged to a football team, that represented the Kalutara North area in a minor football league in 1939. Three De Fonseka’s are found in it. Some of the team members have been from the Distillery Warehouse No 2 which was opposite the ‘Felix Villa’ property. Seated in the middle in a white suite is one Mr Jamon, Excise Inspector of Warehouse No 2 at that time who was the driving force behind the team.

Some of the people in this photograph could not be identified, and most probably worked in the distillery warehouse. Those who could be identified are listed. 

Madampitiya Cemetery:

The Madampitiya cemetery adjoining the Mahawatte property, at Grandpass is also the final resting place for many de Fonseka and D’andrado family members. This cemetery is maintained in good condition, with well maintained roadways and gardens.

The tombstones of some of the De Fonseka and D’andrado family members are found here.