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The first ever social club in ceylon and the life of H.A Marshall-its builder



Whist bungalow 

by Hugh Karunanayake

When the Portuguese and Dutch occupied the maritime provinces of Ceylon from the 16 th Century to the end of the 18th century, it was more or less a military occupation with the ever present danger of the coastal government being overrun by the monarch who ruled the Kandyan Kingdom. That imminent possibility was mitigated to some degree with the annexation of the maritime provinces by the British East India Co; which occurred during the wars of the French revolution. When the Netherlands came under French control the British made its move to oust the Dutch from Ceylon. The Dutch surrendered the island(or more precisely its maritime areas) to the British in 1796 after some half hearted resistance. In 1802 Ceylon was made a crown colony and it was clear that the British were here to stay. In 1815 the Kandyan Kingdom capitulated to the British through a combination of intrigue, and disaffection in the King’s court rather than military engagement. The doors of the country were now open for British settlement and to exploit the nation’s resources to the advantage of the Metropolitan power.

With Ceylon functioning as a British colony, the stage was set for its administration through a Governor appointed by the monarch in Britain. The administration was done through a Civil Service established by the government and by a legal system largely based on Roman Dutch Law supplemented by laws and customs of the local population. Governor Frederick North arrived in the island on 12 October 1798 accompanied by 9 officials who were to administer the island. Among them were three “officers” Sylvester Gordon, Robert Barry, and George Lusignan, each of them just thirteen years of age!! ( Gives some indication of the confidence of the Brits who thought that even teenagers could keep the”natives” in check) There was also in the group,Henry Augustus Marshall who was appointed First Clerk of the Civil Department which was the precursor to the Treasury. Marshall educated at Charterhouse and Oxford was reputed to be the best classics scholar in the island during his stay. He married the daughter of Colonel Robert Brooke Governor of the Island of St Helena. Mrs Marshall was apparently a wealthy woman as suggested by Governor North commenting on Marshall as “married comfortably”.Mr and Mrs Marshall are said to have been very popular socially and JP Lewis the colonial recorder and historian believed that she was the guardian of the tree referred to on the inscription on the stone tablet seen to this day next to the Wellawatte Bridge on Galle Road. Others have suugested that the Sophia referred to in the inscription is none other than Lady Brownrigg.

At the time of British rule of the maritime provinces of Ceylon during late 18 th Century, it was the Galle Harbour that was the main point of entry to the island. The Colombo harbour was a tranquil bay used by fishing craft. The areas overlooking the bay of Colombo in the Mutwal area soon became elite residential areas, replacing the Fort and Pettah areas populated by the Dutch. The early British administrators were quick to acquire choice sites for their homes, the best of them overlooking the bay of Colombo. Many stately homes were constructed in the Mutwal, Modera areas. They included the Whist Bungalow, Modera House, Uplands, Elie House, Rock House, all of them located on vantage points overlooking the bay of Colombo. Three of the stately homes, Rock House, Whist Bungalow, and Modera House were built by Henry Augustus Marshall, the Civil Servant, in his private capacity.

Rev James Cordiner was appointed Chaplain to the 51 st Foot Regiment in Ceylon at the request of Governor Norh. A man of learning and of perceptive observation Rev Cordiner did a tour round the Island in 1800, which led him to publishing in 1807 one of the earliest English descriptions of the island in a two volume publication titled “A description of Ceylon, with narratives of aTour round the Island in 1800, the expedition to Kandy in 1803, and a visit to Ramessaram in 1804”.

Cordiner observed that “The English society at Colombo is uncommonly pleasant; and an assemblage of so many excellent characters is, certainly rarely to be found. The men at the head of the civil and military departments are particularly amiable: and all ranks live together in a mutual exchange of the most friendly and familiar intercourse….” And “Two weekly clubs which have been established at Colombo for several years past, contribute eminently to the promotion of social pleasures in the settlement. The elder is the Cocoa-nut, or Whist Club, at which the principal amusement is cards. The bungaloe where it is held, is beautifully situated, about four miles north east of the mouth of the Calany-ganga, which there receives the name of Mootwal. The club consists of twelve members, chosen from among the most respectable inhabitants of the place. They give dinners in rotation, and generally invite twelve strangers. Some of the members whose characters are celebrated for extensive hospitality, assemble a still greater number of guests. The entertainment is always liberal, and the assembly never fails to be animated with the highest share of convivial delight.The company repair to the villa about one o’clock in the afternoon, and play cards, read or otherwise enjoy the country, until four when dinner is announced. At half past five, or six o’clock, they rise from the table, make a circuit in their carriages or on horseback, and reach their respective homes before dark.”

What a glorious life the British pioneers would have lived. Little wonder that the aspiring”natives” modelled themselves on the social features of the life of the Brits. The creation of the Whist Club underscored the need for expatriate personnel to engage in social interaction. There were many other venerable institutions to follow in later years like the Colombo Club, Kandy Club, Hill Club all of which offered residential facilities. They were however not open to the local population, who not to be outdone formed their own Orient Club (a natives only residential club). Ethno specific sports clubs followed, and are there to this day eschewing some of the rigid ethno specific admission rules insisted upon at the beginning. Clubs were the order of the day during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the more exclusive the membership the higher the social status that exclusivity conferred! The rise of the new breed of hostelry “the Five Star Hotel” seems to have put paid to all those status symbols and hallmarks of privilege.!

While it is on record that Marshall constructed Whist Bungalow, Modera House, and Rock House there is no evidence to suggest that he ever lived in any of them. The history of occupancy of Whist Bungalow is on the public record. On the closure of the Coca- nut Club, Whist Bungalow was acquired by Sir Richard Morgan, Supreme Court Judge. It was inherited by his son who died suddenly and it was then under the ownership of Mr Louis Peiris and his wife Selina who lived there for many years. The house was featured in the encylopaedic “Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon” published in 1907, when it was occupied by the Pieris family. The Famed German Naturalist Ernet Haeckel who visited Ceylon in the 1880s resided in Whist Bungalow and wrote wistfully about his life there in his book “A visit to Ceylon”. The ownership of the house appeared to have changed several times, once even used as a tea store!. The house is presently managed by the National Housing Development authority as a community hall.

The first ever socia…

Members of CSA would be interested to know that the forbears of two senior membesr of the Society once owned Whist Bungalow. Maureen Henricus nee Morgan is a direct descendant of Sir Richard Morgan, while Chandra Senaratne’s maternal grandmother was Mrs Selina Peiris!

Modera House the other creation of Marshall was occupied by the Armitage family, the leading coffee exporters from Ceylon in the nineteenth century. The coffee crash seriously affected the fortunes of the Armitages who sold Modera House to the De La Salle Brothers in the 1880s and moved to Alexandra House, Alexandra Place. The house was later the premises of Alexandra College. Modera House was the location of the film “Elephant Walk” a classic movie of the 1950s. It is now a school run by the De La Salle brothers. “Rock House” built by Marshall was acquired by the government and is Army property for the past over fifty years.

Mr and Mrs Marshall were a popular couple socially. Lieut -Col Campbell in his two volume book “Excursions, adventures, and Field sports in Ceylon” published in 1843 had this to say of the Marshalls ” A gentleman and his lady upon whose hospitality and friendship I had little or no claim, most kindly received me into their charming abode, situated on the sea shore about three miles from Colombo, and it is to the care and attention of Mr and Mrs Marshall that I attribute my temporary recovery.” Famed colonial recorder and writer J Penry Lewis believed that the Marshalls lived near the old toll gate which was in existence at Wellawatte near the bridge over the canal. There was a large banian tree under which a stone tablet was installed praising the virtues of a lady named Sophia. While Mrs Marshall carried her first name as Sophia, it has been suggested that there was another Sophia- viz Lady Sophia Brownrigg the Governor’s wife.

While that riddle remains to be solved, we have to this day the stone tablet with the inscription. It was lying near the entrance to the bicycle shed of the Savoy Cinema, but since has been erected upright near the bridge. Our former President of the Colombo Chapter Somasiri Devendra published a well researched article in his usual scholarly style, which appeared under the title “Wellawatte Inscriptions” in The Ceylankan #9 of Feb 2000. The “younger” club that existed during Marshall’s time, the “Quoit Club” was according to Cordiner situated in an opposite direction to Whist Bungalow, about two miles south of Colombo on the road leading to Point De Galle. Is it possible that Marshall built the Quoit Club as well and also resided there? Could Cordiner have misjudged the distance from Colombo of the Quoit Club ? If such is the case there is more certainty to the speculation that the Wellawatte tablet refers to none other than Sophia Marshall. We are still however lingering in the realm of conjecture !

Henry Augustus Marshall died on 23 January 1841 in his 64 th year and was buried in the old Galle Face Cemetery. A tablet was erected in St Peter’s Church,Fort by his widow and two son “in memory of an elegant classical scholar and a sincere Christian.

Colombo of the eighteenth century was a tranquil place, rich in vegetation, and serene in outlook. It was James Cordiner who observed that: “Nothing about Colombo is more apt to excite admiration than the flourishing state of the vegetable world. So much beauty and variety are in few countries equalled, and nowhere excelled”. Is it a forlorn wish to hope for a revival of Colombo’s lost beauty ? Only time will tell !!


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Life style

How Celebrities Influence Fashions



Celebrities have always shaped and influenced the ongoing fashion trend.

Celebrities both Hollywood and Bollywood influence fashion by wearing whatever is in fashion and also sometimes they create their fashion trend by wearing something enormous, created by the world’s leading fashion designers.

Some of them are known to having better knowledge with fashion than other celebrities, we look to them as fashion icons. They are numerous ways celebrities can influence fashion.

Celebrities set the rule on how to dress to a certain event or how you should dress at a certain age. A lot of times celebrities will promote certain fashion trends. People dress a certain way because their favorite celebrity that they stalk on social media is wearing the same thing.

Fashion can be influenced by social media, the person wearing a certain type of designer or a piece of clothing from that designer.

Research says the some individuals who are referred to as opinion leaders has a major impact on what society thinks of a certain type of fashion. With having celebrities as a fashion opinion leader it leads to higher percentage of market sales. It is agreed that they tend to have more knowledge about fashion than a regular person would, even though if they do not dress accordingly to society at the time. The key aspect of fashion on celebrities is to be seen in the public eye which helps the consumer/designer get more clients or fame.

When it comes to celebrities and trends, clothing is one of the easiest ones to follow. It doesn’t matter what article of clothing celebs have on, if it’s in a magazine or on an Instagram feed, the next day stores are selling the same piece of clothing that said celebrity wore in a photo. It is easier to keep up with the changing trends because of Instagram and TikTok where many celebrities will post videos of their outfits when going out for an event or just spending the day at home. Everyone has their own unique sense of style but how do celebrities influence our style, and are we really dressing in the clothes we choose because we like them, or are we doing it to follow a trend?Celebrities have been known to popularize trends even after they go out of style. One of the reasons why people are so drawn to the styles celebrities wear is because many will choose to dress in a style that brings back nostalgia.

For example, some fashion trend that has been in and out of style for the last couple of years. Various stores and clothing brands have been selling items from tthis fashion collection for a while such as Hot Topic, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters. But the downside to clothing trends is that we realize “I’m never gonna wear this again,” or “I don’t even like this style, why did I buy this?”

Celebrities are good at advertising the clothing items they’re given because it’s part of their job, but sometimes they don’t even like the items they wear. So, why do we continue to follow clothing trends? They have been given lots of beautiful pieces of clothing to wear and when we see them in it and how people respond to them, we want the same reaction they get, so we choose to follow the trend people say

These celibritiescan also influence where clothing is sourced from. Some of the clothes that we wear are made from animals and harmful products that we don’t even realize are made from insects (silk), goats (cashmere), and sheep (shearling). Numerous celebrities have taken a stand against animal products in clothing, and have chosen to wear clothing that is vegan and animal-free.

For example, Ariana Grande’s wedding dress was made from stating vegan which, according to VeganFashionWeek, has “the soft and lustrous texture of satin to create the perfect wedding gown for Arianna Grande. Satin is made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, rayon fibers…)” The choice to buy ethically can influence fans’ styles because they may be inspired to purchase clothing that is made from vegan materials and animal-free products.

Another reason could be because many items that celebrities wear can be used on various occasions. Because celebrities have millions of fans who follow everything that they do, some celebrities have their own clothing lines designed to fit every size and every occasion so that they’re fans can dress comfortably and stylish. Cardi B partnered with Fashion Nova, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have a namesake clothing line, as do many other celebrities. It gives fans the confidence to expand their wardrobe, and it has made people feel comfortable in their own skin.

More positively, celebrities can influence our style by advertising to their fans to dress as themselves and not for anyone else. Angelina Jolie shared her views on fashion in an article last year, saying, “I think we all know boldness when we see it. Nothing makes me smile more than when I see someone being fully themselves, with their own individual style and character, whatever that is.”

Remember: celebrities have their own individual styles that match their own unique personalities and so do you. They can influence our styles because we might like how they look in movies, TV shows, and Tiktoks. It is worth mentioning that celebrities have stylists who dress them for special occasions, and designers who want them to wear their clothes. Style and clothing should be about self expression and instead it has become about trends and influence. Clothes are the reflection of the person you are on the inside so instead of following a clothing trend that’ll be over in a few weeks, dress for yourself.

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Sade Greenwood Miss Sri Lanka world 2022, speaks about Fitness and lifestyle 



by Zanita Careem

The reigning Miss Sri Lanka world Sade Greenwood gives insight into the importance of a balanced and healthy lifestyle for achieving goals and overall wellbeing.

Sade is currently a student at Tokyo International University in Japan where She studies International Relations. She hopes to make a difference in her country using her degree, where she hopes to be involved in youth programmes and education. When Sade is not studying she is usually doing her charity work which involves environmental services and animal welfare. .

Sade with her sparkling personality and penchant for positivity personifies ‘beauty with a purpose’. She has brought immense pride to us all with her ‘walking the talk’ through her numerous charitable endeavors.

Q• Sade tell us about your journey from modelling to competing nationally, and winning the coveted Miss Sri Lanka World 2022 title?


It’s been a surreal journey! Definitely a lot of adjusting as it was a huge shift in my life but all the same I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to represent my country on the  international stage. 

Q• You have always been in model shape. Have You had to change your workout routines when focusing on the beauty industry? 

A• I think I more so needed fitness to help me balance my busy schedules. It was always great to have a release from everything through fitness, it’s definitely something I used more for my mental and physical health in becoming a stronger version of myself.

Q• Being a part of The Fitness Connection Family and working out at the Gym what do you feel has been the biggest change? 

A• I think learning to achieve my goals. One thing about fitness is that consistency plays a huge role but so does diet! Learning to cut out on some of my favourite food is a little tricky!

Q• I know You have a hectic schedule and many commitments. How have your workouts at the gym impacted you positively? 

A• It’s impacted my mental and physical health and overall helped me balance my life and find a release from all the stress and strain.

Q• As you and your pathway have inspired so many, what advise would You give to those looking to balance their goals with their everyday lives? 

A• Make sure you love what you do! That makes it easier to balance anything in life because you’re putting your heart and soul into what you do. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ then, so train your mind!

Q• What motivates you the most, and gets you moving even on the most tiring of days? 

A• My goals and how the future version of myself would be proud that I made the decision to do something then and there.

We are all looking forward to your next chapters in what is definitely going to be an exciting and fulfilling journey. I will surely be speaking with you again soon!

*Sade Greenwood photographed at The Fitness Connection,

Racecourse Colombo 07

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Life style

The Little Black Dress: Never out of style



It is the women’s wardrobe staple that always manages to capture the spirit of the times. Katya Foreman from BBC examines the enduring appeal of the Little Black Dress.

The little black dress, that Christmas party staple, is a bit of an enigma. It is both one of the blandest elements of a woman’s wardrobe – as the default option when stuck for what to wear for an occasion – and a stubbornly  timeless, persistently revisited icon. Essentially a simple black cocktail dress, the garment goes by the affectionate nickname of LBD, which has its own entry in the dictionary.

According to André Leon Talley, a contributing editor at Vogue who recently staged an exhibition dedicated to the LBD, the term ‘little black dress’ first appeared in 1926, in an American Vogue illustration of Coco Chanel’s first black ‘Ford’. Vogue editors had named the dress after the era’s democratic black Model T automobile, predicting that the straight, long-sleeved design in unlined crèpe de chine accented with four diagonal stripes would “become sort of a uniform for all women of taste.” They were spot on.

The garment cut a radically modern figure, as much for its stark design as its sober shade, which since the Victorian era had been associated with mourning. For Chanel, black was the definition of simple elegance and, ever disregarding of conventions, she helped bring the colour into everyday wear. Among the displeased, rival couturier Paul Poiret is said to have sniped at Chanel in the street, “What are you in mourning for, Mademoiselle?” The equally scissor-tongued designer is said to have retorted: “For you, dear Monsieur.”

Frock and awe

To put it in context, three decades earlier, John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Madame Gautreau, better known as Madame X, in a black dress had provoked outrage in Paris. The jet-black look, with its skimpy straps and plunging décolleté, was considered indecent. “Displayed in the huge jury-selected exhibition, the Salon, in 1884, it horrified Parisians so much that the ignominy drove Sargent across the Channel to take refuge in Britain,” wrote the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones..

“In this case it wasn’t anything about the style, or the flash of naked shoulders, that upset a public used to ‘modern nudes’. It wasn’t the morbid paleness of the New Orleans-born high society personage Madame Pierre Gautreau… or even the impressionistic way in which Sargent, a friend of Monet, rejects the crispness of academic naturalism. No, it was the dress that caused distress.”

Fellow independent style maven, Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, who owned several LBDs, once said of the versatile garment: “When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.” And, swiftly embraced as a staple of French elegance in the 20s, the shape-shifting LBD nearly 90 years on is still going strong, with a family of icons still fuelling its myth. Notably, there is something about the slim sleeveless black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that continues to mesmerise generations. Accessorised with black elbow gloves, a pearl choker, dark glasses and a cigarette holder, on Hepburn the gown transcended the sum of its parts.

“I am absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools,” a tearful Dominique Lapierre told BBC News after auctioning off the dress for charity at Christie’s London in 2006, for £467,200 ($765,000) to an anonymous telephone bidder. Lapierre, a French writer and philanthropist, had been given the dress by its maker, French couturier Hubert de Givenchy. According to Christie’s, a second version of the dress remains in the Givenchy archives in Paris, while a third is in the Museum of Costume in Madrid.

Stitches in time

Deceptively simple, the LBD, with its morphing silhouettes and features, can be seen as a marker of shifting social codes. The va-va-voom black Versace safety pin dress worn by Elizabeth Hurley to the 1994 premiere of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, for instance, encapsulated an era, as did Catherine Deneuve’s prim LBD by Yves Saint Laurent in Belle de Jour (1967), with its white silk French cuffs and collar.

 “The little black dress has managed to adapt to all of the socio-political changes,” vintage specialist Didier Ludot has noted. He has been championing the cause since 1999, the year in which he created his line, La Petite Robe Noire, with a dedicated store in Paris’s Palais Royal. And designer Miuccia Prada, quoted in Talley’s aforementioned book said: “To me, designing a little black dress is trying to express in a simple, banal object, a great complexity about women, aesthetics, and current times.”

From the wearer’s stance, nothing is more flattering and versatile than the LBD. Offering new personalities in the tweaking of a neckline or sleeve length, it smoothes contours, serving as an inky frame to exposed areas of flesh. All lines and shadows, the LBD is an ally to curves. To Ludot it is “an iconic, magical garment as it enhances a woman’s features and erases imperfections”.

As the epitome of the blank canvas, the LBD has become a rite of passage for generations of designers, and a fixation for some, such as cult couturier Azzedine Alaia, whose roots lie in architecture.  “The little black dress is interesting to designers because it is a wardrobe classic that we can experiment with and twist. The cut and the volume form the foundations, with the fabric bringing it to life. It’s a real creative exercise,” commented French couturier Alexis Mabille who was among five designers tapped by French lifestyle chain Monoprix to design a little black dress for this Christmas season, along with Giles Deacon, Hussein Chalayan, Anne-Valérie Hash and Yiqing Yin. Suited to all types, the affordable capsule, which premiered at the style emporium Colette in late November, once again reflects the codes of the black Ford Model T.  From Hash’s split-personality design, which melds two styles of dress in one piece, to Deacon’s black satin t-shirt style with an oversized satin bow at the neckline, each offers a new take on a perennial wardrobe classic whose capacity for reinvention seems inexhaustible.– BBC

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