The archaeological and historical heritage of British Garrison Cemetery

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British Garrison Cemetery

In the very heart of Kandy , behind the Kandy museum and practically adjacent to the law courts and the sacred tooth Relice. Lies a3/4 acre plot of land wherein rest many men, women and children, mainly colonial British cut off from life many in the flower of their youth, others blossoming into manhood, and with only a bare handful reaching the proverbial three score years and ten. This is the British Garrison Cemetery, which was opened in 1822 and closed by Governor’s Proclamation in the mid – 1870’s, except for those with a relation already buried therein.

After recent restoration, anyone interested is now more than welcome to visit this slightly bizarre reminder of the past, where chatting monkeys and the acrid smell of elephants mingle with the peace and quite of this tranquil spot.

Here you will find examples of table tombs, raised tombs with inscribed side tables, obelisks, a fluted column , and many of the more mundane head and rarer foot stone ; a good number of these have their own stories to tell.


John Spottiswood Robertson, b1823 d. 1856.Atable tomb.

The seventh and last recorded Death of a European in Ceylon in killed by wild elephants.


Leiut — General John Fraser, aged 72 years. A table tomb.

Best known for his satinwood bridge, which spanned the mahaweli ganga at peradeniya. This grcedful single arch with aspan of 205ft.was in use from 1833 to was build with not a single nail or bolt. He was also renowned as a road builder and cartographer, apart from being a strict disciplinarian.


Eliza Ann Philpotts, raised tomb with side inscribed tablet.

This tomb was badly damaged by a tree growing through it, and had to be dismantled before restoration work.


Sir john D’Oyly, b. 1774 d . 1824. Fluted column with marble tablet.
He represented the British government at the 1815 Convention whereat the Kingdom of Kandy Was annexed to him by GAJAMAN
Nona, the Matara poetess.

No. 101

William Robert Lyte, b. 1865. Grandson of the Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, author of the hymn “Abide with me”

No. 88

David Findlay, b. 1823 d. 1861. A fine granite headstone with carved Grecian urn.
Findlay, was killed when the mullegodde (sic) House, owned at the time by Advocate J.A. Dunuwille, collapsed on him.

No. 114      

Henry Mackenzie, b. 1841 d. 1869. This headstone has been badly broken and now lies flat. Nine randomly drilled holes for embellishments can be seen, the significance of which is not known. Any assistance would be most welcome.


Lady Elizabeth Gregory, b. 1873. Carved granite raised tomb with iron railing surround including a small visiting gate
She was the wife of the Rt. Hon. William Henry Governor
, Governor of Ceylon 1872-1877.


Captain James McGlashan, b. 1791 d. 1817. This tombstone was brought to the cemetery in the late 1890’s from Lady Longden’s Drive. Distinguished himself at the battles of Busaco, Albuera and Waterloo. With reckless disregard of precautions he
Walked from Trincomalee, drenched with rain, wading, sitting and even sleeping in saurated clothing; not surprisingly he was
Seized with violent fever and accepted his end with manly fortitude.

No 117

William Charles Mac Ready, b1832 d. 1871.

Son of the celebrated actor William known to Charles Dickens, as W. C.M. held many positions. In 1865 he published  a translation of the Sinhalese poem : “sela lihini sandesa; the sela’s message , with notes and Glossary, for use of Students “ by Sri Rahula of Thotagamuwa

No 110

Willam Watson Mackwood b i847d 1867

Alighting from his  horse he was transfixed by a stake placed to mark out the

No 68

Oteline Rudd,b1820d 1875 table tomb

Her husband; Billy was one of the first planters to be sold up in the 1847-48   coffee crisis , losing hundreds of thousands of acres originality worth many thousands of pounds, it was disposed for a few hundred paltry Rupees. He was reduced from living in princely state to not even owning the chair on which he sat.


G.S.M. Wait 1873 A small memorial stone for their five infant sons

No 136

Henry Thompson P.M. P. Z  b 1831 d 1881 A carved granite raised tomb ; Erected by the Masonic friends in Ceylon


Marcella Stewart b 1806 All the above ground bricks was found buried face down during restoration work.  This whole grave has been remade with old bricks by one of our masons using a degree of licence        of the absence of records

  • Kandy , Sri Lanka

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