This extended Video Clip recorded in the late 1980s takes many of us back to disappearing slices of life and its interactions within the Galle Fort, an arena that has been altered in ,but nevertheless retains its old world charm even today — while boasting astronomical land prices.
SOME SPONTANEOUS RESPONSES TO THIS VIDEO TALE:
From JOE SIMPSON in Canada: “Hello Michael: Listening to this on my iMac while taking a break from working remotely at home on my legal advice clinic. Haunting to hear Nesta and Gracie speaking back in about 1987 as if they are in the room here with me! This must have been recorded about a year before I last saw Nesta at the NOH in early 1988, when on my way (via Japan) to Canada to start a new life here. A that time (Jan 1988) she had a private guest staying with her, an elderly retired English medical doctor who’d served with the RAF in Ceylon during WW2 who’d been stationed at Koggala and knew the hotel from back then. He’d heard her being interviewed on the BBC radio and decided to revisit the Island for the first time in nearly half a century. He’d been a mdic with the RAF too, I recall. Frightful bore, alas! Over tea on the hotel verandah all he could do was complain about the tropical heat and itemize the diseases he’d treated in the service. Nesta was an accomplished & practiced performer when it came to pretending to be fascinated by the conversation boring dinner guests. Back in the early seventies a frequent visitor to the NOH was the late Hal Brohier’s sister, Cherie I think her first name was, a very down-to-earth, likeable lady, Nesta’s sister-in-law. Gracie I also remember, as I recall she had a great love of Jim Reeves songs and played them on her LP player. All great characters long gone but preserved in memory …. Thanks for sharing this treasure!
From Nelun Mackie nee De Alwis in London:
“Gosh Michael- the reincarnation of the Dutch Burghers
From Manoranjan in Canberra: …. Dear Michael, I liked this very much. Thanks for sharing.
Regards and best wishes, Mano.
SOME EVOCATIVE SNAPSHOTS
Snapper unknownhotel corridor….. Nesta and her ‘crew’ …. and hotel bathroom –all ‘captured’ by Joe Simpson THEN in the late 1980s
The Burgher Tennis Club within the Fort — framed picture in the possession of Moira and David Colin-Thome …..
ALSO NOTE this reference from IVAN AMARASINGHE in UK: …..
8 responses to “Adieu! Galle Fort’s Burghers …. A Swansong in the Late 1980’s”
Extremely poignant to hear the genteel voices of the original burgher ladies… brings back lovely memories of my stay there as a teenager in the late seventies with my parents and sister. Also met the grand old lady there. I visited the GOH in Feb this year (escaped COVID19 quarantine by the skin of my teeth). The verandah and the dining room with it’s chandeliers and fans look the same, though of course the road at the front of the Hotel is so busy with traffic. Those two trees are still there. Flamboyant (Flame of the Forest). Unfortunately, was just passing through and didn’t stay. Ms Brohier’s grandson/grand-nephew is the current Archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese in Colombo, Ven. Perry Brohier. I will post some photos of what it looks like later.
I am a descendant of Coenraad Christiaan Ephraums. I have no doubt at all that he was Jewish. The Cohens – spelling has numerous variations – claim descent from the Aaron, the brother of the prophet Moses.
Miss. Grace Bartholameuz was our music teacher at Richmond College. Later when I was the physician in Galle she attended my clinic with various ailments. We vislted her in her lodge in the Fort. I remember she had so many cats running all over us.
NOSTALGIC MEMORIES OF GALLE FORT AND RESIDENTS IN THE FIFTIES.
SPENT MY UNFORGETABLE CHILDHOOD ON A PLANTATION IN GALLE DISRICT BUT VISITED THE FORT VERY OFTEN WITH MY MOTHER ;MRS BROHIER, RAMPARTS ,LIGHTHOUSE,MISS NORAH ROBERTS LIBRARIAN WHO WAS MY MOTHER’S DEAR FRIEND; THE ABEYWARDENE BROTHER RICK AND QUINTUS AND THEIR DEAR FAMILIES, EPHRAUMS, CASSIMS, DR STEPHEN DE SILVA
DR LESLIE FERNANDO .CAKE MAESTRO MRS JACOLINE, DRESS MAKER SELINA GRAY AND HER MOTHER MRS MORGAN………I LOVED CEYLON IT WAS ANOTHER COUNTRY…..
I have read this post before, but was very pleasantly surprised to see Joe Simpson’s comments. Joe was a such a great pioneer contributor to The Ceylankan since eary days and suddenly became “non est”! No amount of attempts to contact him would succeed. Ver, very glad to see his writings again, and I hope that this is the beginning of more to come. He wrote a wonderful account on the life of the late Rev WJT Small running into about 100 pages which remains unpublished.
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Many thanks. What an interesting telephone call!
In the long past we would stay at the Oriental Hotel in Galle. It had some very beautiful antique furniture. I am copying this to my good friend Monty Holsinger. His wife (we call her Bundles) is now running the Wendy Whatmore Academy for Speech and Drama. She is the daughter of Wendy Whatmore.
The story of Dutch Burghers in Ceylon is very fascinating. Dutch familes settlrd down as a part of the local population for many years,The Vanderhovens and Wambecks in Batticaoa, the Vandendrisens and Ferdinand in Jaffna, the Ephraims in Galle, the Solomons in Matara, etc. As a student in Batticaloa in the 1940s I recall the Vanderhoven brothers wiining several prizes in Central College, Batticaloa and Miss Ferdinands was the organist at St. John’s College Chapel in Jaffna. The more sociable Burghers lent so much joy into the social life compared to the more conservative Sinhalese and Tamils.They also produced outstanding professionals e.g. Dt Anthonisz and Dr, Bartholomews in the Medical field , Mr. R.L. Pereira in Law..