Slow death of Wellesley House, Ft. St. George, Chennai

House of Wellesley, Ft St. George, Chennai.

Above image:  Wellesley House in ruins, photo taken in 2016. This is the remaining portion of Wellesley House  on Charles street, Ft. St. George. Chennai. Reason for this kind of  collapse: When the building had been lying in a state of disrepair and structurally weak no responsible government agency came forward to save this structure and the adjacent Chaplain house despite protests from heritage lovers and frequent media reports.  Several years ago recovery of this building was possible. But total apathy on the government side pushed this heritage to this present state of almost total decay. ..............   

Wellesley House, Chennai, total wreck

Above image: Appeared in Madras Musing's article in April 2016. Like many other old structures soon it will disappear, never to be returned.  When the building collapsed several years ago and had remained uncared for since then, it was more of a symptom of its death knell............

Chennai has lost  many outstanding colonial structures in the past several decades and the heritage  enthusiasts are quite dismayed over their loss.  They  are  now  keeping their figures crossed  over  the fate of   Gokhale Hall, Victoria Town hall, the Bharat insurance building and   many others. They may decay and fall on their own in a few years  from now or likely they may be saved. The same story goes on in cities like Kolkata and Delhi. Coming back to Chennai quite disgusting is the slow death of  Wellesley House in the fort area. The Lost Post was already played for this early colonial structure. 

Gov. Gen. of India Richard

Above image: Portrait: Wellesley in officer's uniform with star and sash of the Order of St Patrick. Portrait by Robert Home, famous oil portrait painter. This work was done in India in 1791.  Richard Colley Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley of Norragh, (20 June 1760 – 26 September 1842;  got the Irish peerage in 1799) was an Anglo-Irish politician (Tory), colonial administrator and elder brother of Arthur Wellesley whose successful  raid against won the final Angelo-Mysore war. against Tipu Sultan. During his tenure as the Gov. of  Madras Presidency he stayed in the Wellesley House in the fort. He ran the administration well, choosing his brothers Arthur and Henry as his PAs. He was the founder of Ft. William College in Calcutta ( July 10, 1800; Kolkata) to train British in some aspects of administration plus learning of Indian language like Urdu, Sanskrit. Persian, Bengali, etc. He promoted Indian languages to run the administration.  After his death in 1842, he  was buried in Eton College Chapel, at his old school, London........................................ 

Damaged Wellesley House, Ft. St. George, Chennai.

Wellesley House, Chennai  named after  Richard  Wellesley, Governor-General of British India (1798 - 1805) is on the quiet Church/Charles Street at Fort St. George just before the San. Thome Gate. Sheer negligence on the part of the official is writ in that place where a large number of historical buildings have disappeared  over a period of time    What was once a nice building has  become a dilapidated site  with broken walls, etc . Most of the site is further damaged by the growth of a big banyan tree  whose roots seem to  support the remaining structure.  Structural damages were severe on account of climatic  vagaries  and root -wedging promoted by  the growth of plants, particularly the big banyan tree.  Remained uncared for a long time,  way  back on 18 November   1980  a  large part of  the house  caved in creating a huge mound of fragmented materials.  That  decades back  no attempt was made to remove the banyan tree that had grown  on the huge walls  is a sad story.  The remaining   structures  in the adjacent areas  in the fort still  stand  neglected. This' ll  give some  idea about the way our  government officials cared  about the historical places, buildings, etc., decades ago..

This once a bungalow  with  large rooms, windows, a wide stairway  is in total ruins.   Built in 1796 as per the  faded plaque embedded on the damaged wall, the house  was used by  Wellesley brothers - Arthur and Richard. 

In the final Angelo-Mysore war  (in 1798-1799) 1799 at Srirangapatna (now in Mandya District, Karnataka)  against Tipu  Sultan of Mysore  who terrorized  the English company,  one of the three English armies involved was  commanded by Colonel Arthur Wellesley, the future 1st Duke of Wellington). It is said  Richard came to Madras en route to Mysore and stayed in the house. In February 1799, both  Wellesleys marched to Mysore. On 4 March Tipu was shot and killed by the troop led by Arthur. After the war Richard returned to Calcutta.  An interesting fact is at that point of time of waging the war  against  Tipu,  the  government treasury was low on money, a glaring deficit worried the  right-mined officials. But the British army was keen to get Tipu out of the way so that they could annex Mysore.

Arthur Wellesley returned to England with name and a large fortune. Having gained the  needed experience in various aspects of war, Arthur led the  British army  to confront the mighty Napoleon.  In 1815,  with better war strategies and military maneuvers, he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Soon Arthur Wellesley   was made Duke of Wellington, and became Prime Minister of England twice.,_1st_Marquess_Wellesley