Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Colonial British Cemetery, Lawrence School Campus, Lovedale, Tamil Nadu

British Cmetery, Lovedale, Ooty, TN ycaanewsletter.wordpress.com
Coonoor -Ooty map, TN. tripoto.com/trip

The British Cemetery at Lovedale near  Ootacamund in the  state of Tamil Nadu  is a popular place for many  British tourists whose forefathers were buried here  and other cemeteries on the Nilgiri hills  during the early colonial rule and later under the Raj. Opened in 1832, the site of  the cemetery is part of the sprawling campus of The Lawrence School that was established in   1858 on the high hills covering 750-acre of land.
The Lawrence School is one the reputed schools in India and has a few branches in North India in the lower Himalayan hills.  It was founded in memory of Major General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, KCB, who died in the First  major War of Indian Independence against British Rule in 1857 - commonly known in Britain as the ‘Indian Mutiny which is a misnomer’. The big rebellion almost shook the foundation of the British Empire which later  was suppressed with great difficulty.  

It  was  founded by Maj. Gen. Lawrence with a view to  providing education to the children of the deceased and serving soldiers and officers of the British army in India  and  is  run  by the Protestant sect with strict adherence to their religious code.  Later the school admitted children from native Indians.  With the departure of the British in August 1947, the Raj came to an end, however, this public  school has close link with the Indian military  and the students  of  Indian Defense Personnel  get 20% discount on fees etc.
The Lawrence School Lovedale. Oooty, TN. change.org
Because of mountain terrain (located at a height of 7200 feet above sea level), where the vagarious weather and climate change year round, maintaining the cemetery is posing  problems to the authorities.  The cemetery  here in Lovedale is prone to exposure to  heavy monsoons rains that cause soil erosion, abundant foliage growth, wild grass, bushes, etc., near  the tombstones resulting in their severe structural damages if cracks  and root-wedging are not taken care of  periodically.  This true of many European cemeteries across India.
Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty. istampgallery.com
This cemetery has 124 tombs of which approximately 110 are of the British soldiers andcivilians  who had  lived  here for  a long time before their death. In the colonial time lots of British families moved over to Ooty, Wellington, Coonoor, Lovedale and other cool places  as the weather was pleasant and congenial.  They preferred cooler climate with lots of greenery to the hot one on the plains, particularly, the summer was unbearable for them.  Besides, many families ran tea and coffee plantations here on the Nilgiri hills that form part of the Western Ghat.

There was  proposal  to  repair and  conserve the  graves and statues
using old traditional methods. It also includes landscaping, tombstone restoration works, structural repairs, using traditional  brick lime mortar, stucco and lime plaster works. There is a shortage of lime in many areas and as the British widely used brick, lime mortar and  lime plaster cover, application of old methods poses a problem and makes the matter much worse than one can ever think of.  Inordinate delay means  graves become more damaged over a period of time. The monsoon rains  cause additional threats to old structures made of bricks and lime mortar.   
With funds provided by the alumni association of the Lawrence school,  the conservation project was initiated  in tandem  with the BACSA . The  alumni association petitioned the school in 2016 for the restoration and maintenance of the school cemetery thus evincing  a keen desire to  ever continue the close link of the school with the cemetery where old school students lie buried. The school’s heritage’  site should not go into oblivion due to lack of funds and neglect. The old boys association moved in the right direction  to restore the past connectivity of the British legacy with the present, thus paying obeisance to  the blessed souls in the grave.
https://ycaanewsletter.wordpress.com/2018/06/10/conserving-contested-heritage-in-south-india/