'Constantia House' and 'La Martiniere' institutions, Lucknow - unknown historical facts

Constantia House.LUCKNOW Society

Lucknow is one of the most populous cities of north India and is home to a lot of monuments of historical importance. Once, it was the capital of the kingdom of Awadh and was under  the Delhi Sultanate before it  came under the Mughal rule. Later, the political scenario changed and Awadh was later ruled by the the Nawabs.  After the Sepoy mutiny, the city along with  the rest of Awadh  in 1857 was taken over by the British Raj as part of their land-grabbing spree. Among the interesting monuments of Lucknow, the Constantia House that runs  the famous educational institutions under  La Martiniere is a worth seeing tourist place. 

The following are the important unknown facts of Constantia and the La Martiniere institutions:

01. Constantia House  is not only a mausoleum but also an education institution; it runs schools  on a vast plot comprising 200 acres of prime land in the city of Lucknow.

Constantia. Main-Buildingwww.lamartinierelucknow.org

02. Constantia is built on a landscaped terrace overlooking what was once a lake. In 1960, the Gomti River overflowed and flooded the school grounds. The students and staff were evacuated to higher place. In 1973-74, the government built s long protective bund, separating the school lake and the main vista. Consequently the setting has become less picturesque than before. 

03. At the the center of the land  rises a solid fluted column with a Moorish cupola frequently referred to as  'the Laat'. The monument is about forty meters (~125 feet) high and is said to be either a lighthouse or a marker for the grave of Claude Martin's horse!!

04. Considered as the largest European funerary monument in India, it was  built by a Frenchman whose  body is interred safely in a specially made vault right below in the basement of the building where s school functions..

05. Established in 1845, in accordance with the "Will" executed by its founder Major General Claude Martin, after his death in 1800. La Martiniere, has two schools on different campuses for boys and girls.

La Martiniere in 1858, en.wikipedia.org.

06. The founding of educational institutions as per the wish of Martin, got delayed due to litigation over  his "Will" before the Calcutta High Court. The "Will", executed by Marin, was proved finally in 1840.

07. The first school began on 1 October 1845 with only 70 boys. By 1862, there were 277 students enrolled at the school. 

Constantia House. Lucknow. TripAdvisor

08. As for the school in Lucknow, it functioned outside the British territory, so, the school had good interaction with the local community.

09. During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, in early  June, the Chief Commissioner of Awadh (also Oudh), Sir Henry Lawrence ordered the Martinière be evacuated and for several days and  the boys traveled from the Residency to the College collecting provisions. Both teachers and students had to leave the school premises and fought against the Indian rebels to defend the residency of Lucknow. 

Constantia House. Lucknow. TripAdvisor

10. The La Martiniere Boys’ college is the only school in the world to have been awarded ‘Royal Battle Honours’ for its role in the defence of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.

11. The Martinière contribution was officially recognized in Queen Victoria's (1858) proclamation. 

12. After the end of 1857 rebellion, Lucknow became part of British territory and La Martinière  became  an outpost of the British Empire and, further,  it acquired the traditions of English public schools.

13. In the late nineteenth century and  early twentieth century, the school had begun to cater to the children of privileged people - aristocrats and Zamindars of  Awadh. 

14. Claude Martin had willed part of his fortune for the education of Indian children without mentioning  particular race and creed. Because of Victorian imperialistic attitude that dominated the British rulers, it was only in 1935 that native Indians were permitted to join the school in Calcutta.

15. Annually, the ‘Founder’s Day’ falls on 13th September, being the day of Martin's  death and it is commemorated with elaborate functions by the school. 1st October is celebrated as Constantia Day as the school came up on 1 October 1845. As for the girls' college, it was established in 1869, 24 years later after the boys’ college came into being.
The school serves both day-scholars and boarding scholars.

16. The school is  still functioning in Constantia, once  the residence of its founder late Claude Martin. The building is well fortified and protected by canons, etc.

17. Major Gen. Claudia Martin had served not only the French army, but also the British army owned by the English company. 

18. However, he earned much of his wealth while he served as advisor to the Nawab of Awadth - Asaf-ud-Daula. He was the richest Frechman in India at that point of time.

19. His massive fortune was worth about Rs 40,000,00.00, a whooping sum in those days.  His palace Constantia and his fine house of Farud Baksh,  were well  fitted  with luxuries such as a library of some 4,000 volumes written in many languages and a picture gallery containing a fine collection of works of art. At his death, amazingly his vast collection included over 650 paintings of birds which were painted by Mogull-trained painters.

20. Martin's  " Will" made provisions for building additional schools - two more - one  in Kolkata and the other being at Lyon, his place of birth, France.

21. In the early stages of its growth, the school admitted only Europeans, later non Europeans as well. 


22. President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, in 1995 released a postage stamp to honor  the contribution made by the school as part of its 150th anniversary; La Martiniere is among a few schools to have postal stamps issued in its honor.

La Martiniere institution,Lucknow. mbstamps.blogspot.com

23. In 2007  the girl’s school celebrated its 138th anniversary, to honor this great event, a first day cover was issued by the Department of Posts with a picture of Khursheed Manzil (name of the school building meaning  the House of the Sun,) that houses the girl’s school. 

24. Perhaps, La Martiniere  may be the first school to have a  bagpipe band since 1967.

25. During the world war II, the risk of Japanese invasion into Bengal was very much there, the Calcutta branch of this school was temporarily shifted to the Lucknow campus and functioned  until the risk was over.