The house of ‘Tintagel’ | Sunday Observer

The house of ‘Tintagel’

18 July, 2021

This article is also about such a house in Rosmead Place, Colombo 7, which belongs to a famous political family in Sri Lanka

When someone hears of Colombo 7, or Cinnamon Garden, they will no doubt recollect that it is an area inhabited by affluent people.

In fact, most of the houses in the area belong to aristocratic families. Some of those houses have now been demolished and replaced with modern houses, while others have been leased or sold to businesses such tourist hotels.

This article is also about such a house in Rosmead Place, Colombo 7, which belongs to a famous political family in Sri Lanka.

Along the road leading to Ward Place near the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) is Wijerama Mawatha which runs to the right and this unique house is located a short distance down Wijerama Mawatha, next to the nameplate “Rosmead Place”. In addition, it can also be reached via the road to Rosmead Place near Dawatagaha Church at Town Hall.

This unique house is known as the house where the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the slain Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and his family lived. In addition to the Horagolla Bandaranaike Walawwa in their Nittambuwa area, they also lived in this house. This house has long been known as “Tintagel” or “Rosmead House”.

According to sources, the construction of this house was completed in 1930. Built as the home of Lucien de Silva, a well-known physician at the time, he used it for as little as 10 years.

Ceylon was then a colony of Great Britain and once in 1940 this house had to be given to accommodate some hundred British soldiers.

Accordingly, this house was used as a shelter for British soldiers for nearly a year. However, by the time the house was handed back to its owner, the formerly beautifully built house had fallen into disrepair.

By the time, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the son of late Maha Mudaliyar Solomon Dias Bandaranaike and lady Daisy Acelyn Obeysekera, who lived in the Horagolla Walawwa in Nittambuwa had returned to Ceylon in 1940 after completing his higher education at the University of Oxford in the UK.

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was then married to Sirima Ratwatte, the daughter of Barnes Ratwatte and Rosmand Hilda Constantine Kumarihami. After the marriage, Bandaranaike-Sirima couple lived in a rented house in the Colombo area because it was easier for him to pursue the political career.

However, Solomon Dias Bandaranaike was not happy that his son was living in a rented house and decided to buy a suitable house for the newlyweds to live in Colombo. He then came to know about the Tintagel in Rosmead Place, and in the early 1940s he bought the house from Dr. Silva, for a sum of Rs. 68,000. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who came to live in the Tintagel, often used this house for his political activities. Therefore, this house has always been a place for politicians of all walks of life. This house was used for many special occasions including meetings of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which he founded. Also, Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, who later became the world’s first female Prime Minister, also used this house frequently for her political activities.

Both happy and sad events have taken place in this house which has become a prominent place in the political arena. Among them is the shooting of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike on September 25, 1959. On the morning of that day, a Buddhist bikkhu named Thalduwe Somarama, the assassin of Bandaranaike, visited the house and Premier Bandaranaike was meeting the public. Bandaranaike, who was shot at around 9.45 was later admitted to the Colombo National Hospital for treatment but died the next day.

Another special event that took place at this house was the holding of the wedding ceremony of Chandrika Bandaranaike, the youngest daughter of Prime Minister Bandaranaike, with Vijaya Kumaratunga, a prominent actor, singer and politician in Sri Lanka. The couple married in February 1978, with only about 20 guests representing both parties.

Sirima Bandaranaike, who lived in this house, became the world’s first female Prime Minister.

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was twice elected the President of Sri Lanka, and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s son Anura Bandaranaike became a Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and Speaker.

A recent highlight of the house was the stay of Crown Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and his spouse, Camilla Parker (Duchess of Cornwall), who attended the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka. Former Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike lived in this house and in the Horagolla Walawwa until her death on October 10, 2000.

In 2005, it was leased to a well-known businessman and is today operated as a tourist hotel providing accommodation and food for local and foreign tourists.