Holy Trinity Church Nuwara Eliya

Three publications are available relating to Holy Trinity Church Nuwara Eliya:

The first is Holy Trinity Church Nuwara Eliya CD, a collection of about 1500 births and 814 marriages transcribed from a typed copy of the original records. Holy Trinity Church was the most important church in the tea country during the British period mid 1800s to mid 1900s. The CD can be purchased here.

The second is a printed publication, Graveyards in Ceylon: Nuwara Eliya Vol II. This comprises a collection of memorials (about 900 names) in the Holy Trinity Church and the old graveyards of Nuwara Eliya from surveys, written records and biographical details is recorded in this publication, the first since 1913. Several tombstones have been found from the early 20th century survey but many others not previously recorded were found in this later survey of 2008-9.

The third is Protestant Marriages Nuwara Eliya Ceylon, a register of marriages (about 1000 names) in Holy Trinity Church, Nuwara Eliya, include people of all races. Tamils mainly from the tea estates or the labouring classes who had converted to Christianity from Hinduism, the Burghers who were mainly descended from the Dutch, the Cingalese some with Portuguese names and the British who were so short of female company that they often married local girls. Others took their pick from the ladies who ostensibly came to Ceylon for a holiday but secretly they were looking for a husband and known as the ‘fishing fleet’ and they certainly had plenty of choice. The girls usually stayed in a hotel or with friends and are recorded in the register as ‘arrived from England.’

Nuwara Eliya with its comfortable climate was an oasis for the planters who came from the surrounding tea estates for some home comforts and social life .Under the influence of Sir Samuel Baker the hill station had become a prosperous commercial town and a carbon copy of an English village with the planters’ Hill Club as its social centre. Many planters opted to stay after retirement why go home when you can eat steam pudding and roast beef here and be served by waiters wearing white gloves. Their pensions went a long way in Ceylon and the thought of the cold and expensive climate at home did not appeal.

There are still some reminders of the British period in Nuwara Eliya, the Grand Hotel once the residence of Sir Edward Barnes, Governor of Ceylon, the Hill Club, the Post Office and the fragmented remains of the planters’ lives in its graveyards.