women’s education-KERALA-1840 -'Augusta’s dreams and zenana mission

Holding on to an illustrious past


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  • Academic treasure(Clockwise from top) A view of the Fort High School; Prof. C. V. Chandrasekharan (in a suit), Director of Public Instruction and later Pro Vice-Chancellor of Travancore University, at the foundation stone laying of the rear extension of the school in 1937; Valiyakoyikkal Palace; V. Vaidyanatha Iyer, founder and first headmaster of the school.Photos: Achuthsankar S. Nair

    Academic treasure(Clockwise from top) A view of the Fort High School; Prof. C. V. Chandrasekharan (in a suit), Director of Public Instruction and later Pro Vice-Chancellor of Travancore University, at the foundation stone laying of the rear extension of the school in 1937; Valiyakoyikkal Palace; V. Vaidyanatha Iyer, founder and first headmaster of the school.Photos: Achuthsankar S. Nair

A peek into the illustrious history of the century-old Fort High School

One of the century-old schools in the city that co-exists seamlessly with a heritage building is the Fort High School. A former student and former teacher of the school, poet Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer, describes the Valiyakoyikkal Kottaram on the school compound in his Essays on Travancore .
According to him, the palace came into existence around 1770, during the time of Umayamma Rani. Puthencotta Palace on the banks of Killi river (in the Attakulangara area) was dismantled and the material was used to build Valiyakoyikkal.
Kerala Varma of Kottayam, adopted by Umayamma Rani, stayed in Valiyakoyikkal, which can now be found right behind the school building. The palace also houses the Vettakkorumakan temple (Vettakkaruman is the correct word, according to Ulloor).
Around 1786, Kerala Varma was murdered in front of the palace and the palace has been considered haunted ever since. The thenga erichil vazhipadu at the Vettakkorumakan temple is related to this belief. In 1858, the palace and temple seem to have been engulfed by fire. Today, we find that the remains of the palace still sport the name board ‘Koyikkal Kottaram’.
In 1875, V. Vaidyanatha Iyer started a primary school in a thatched shed where the Sreekanteswaram Park stands now. The school soon grew into an aided high school at the present site. When the permission was given, the Government placed a condition that the school would serve as a lodge for the Nampoothiri priests who used to arrive for the grand Murajapam festival at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. Thus the school used to have holidays during the festival.
These arrangements naturally vanished soon after Independence. It also seems that the Travancore army that came to the Fort to accompany the Arattu procession also used to occupy the school for two days. Presently, the school is a test centre of the Public Services Commission and other agencies on almost all holidays.
The front part of the school building is unusually designed. Class rooms on the ground floor have one door opening into the ground and two doors opening into the verandah. The classrooms are very airy.
The upper floor has imposing structural work in wood. The building seems to have had a rear extension that was constructed around 1937. The foundation stone laid by C. V. Chandrasekharan, Director of Public Instruction (later Pro Vice-Chancellor of Travancore University), is still intact in a corner of the building. So is a photograph from those days.
The school compound was noted for the absence of any compound wall. Of late, a chain demarcates the compound, which is shared by the school and the temple. In the area behind the school, closer to the Fort wall, is the Government Fort LP School.
The founder of Fort High School, Vaidyanatha Iyer was the first headmaster too. He was succeeded by his son V. Varadaraja Iyer. Most headmasters had long tenures, examples being V. N. Narayanan Nair (27 years) and V. A. Krishna Iyer (10 years).
After short spells by N. Ananthanarayana Iyer and P. Viswanatha Iyer, the management of the school was in dispute forcing the government to take over the school. The District Collector became the manager in 1963 and continued for 12 years till the dispute was amicably settled.
In 1966, S. Mahadeva Sharma became headmaster and served for 18 long years. He still lives in the vicinity of the school and can reel out fact after fact about the school. Janardanan Nair, M. R. Malathi Amma, V. Ramachandran Nair and P. Raveendran Nair were other headmasters. Presently, the headmistress is Sasikala Devi and the school is run by Lakshmi Ammal Trust, which has as its members the descendents of the founder’s family.
In 1975, the school celebrated its centenary, with the then Governor N.N. Wanchoo and Chief Minister C. Achutha Menon partaking in the five-day celebrations. In addition to poet Ulloor, the school has on its alumni list Pattom A. Thanupillai, Panchapakesa Iyer ICS, Justice Subramanyan Potti, Justice K.S. Paripoornan, Narayana Moorthy of Indian Space Research Organisation, Dr. M. Sambasivan, neurosurgeon, Dr. M. K. Ramachandran Nair, former Vice-Chancellor and Krishna Murari, former Mayor of the city.
Papanasam Sivan, famous Carnatic composer and Tamil film music director and lyricist of yesteryear, mentions in his autobiography that he studied in the Fort School in Trivandrum during 1900s. It is yet to be verified if it is this very school or any other school inside the Fort (the Sanskrit school inside the Fort, founded in 1889, for instance).
The school, which had over 1,000 students in its heyday, now has only 300. It still has students from Beemappally and Poonthura. Its library, which has very old books, is relatively well preserved. As with many of the city’s century-old schools, the Fort School rests on its proud history, the heritage of the compound itself and a non-commensurate present.

Updated: October 18, 2013 17:28 IST

For women’s education

Achuthsankar S. Nair

  • Photo of Vadakkekottaram School taken in 1900 which collapsed in the monsoon of 1913. The present Fort Mission School stands at the same spot.
    Special Arrangement Photo of Vadakkekottaram School taken in 1900 which collapsed in the monsoon of 1913. The present Fort Mission School stands at the same spot.
  • Miss Augusta Blandford
    Special Arrangement Miss Augusta Blandford
  • A snap of three school students taken from the book authored by Augusta Blandford in 1903
    Special Arrangement A snap of three school students taken from the book authored by Augusta Blandford in 1903

SOS: Save Our Schools The Zenana Fort Mission School is readying to celebrate its 150th anniversary from November 3, 2013 onwards. One of the first schools that attracted girls of the city and triggered a transformation among young women, Zenana was led by missionaries from Augusta Blandford to Dorothy Taylor who have left behind precious chronicles of the micro-history of the city.

Augusta Blandford, who founded the Fort Mission School in 1864 (known also as Zenana Mission School), was a missionary, teacher, writer and social reformer. She not only championed the cause of women of the city, but also gifted the city with a precious chronicle of its micro-history with her extensive writing.
There is perhaps no school in the city that can boast of documentation of the intimate thoughts of its founder-headmistress. She writes in her memoirs, Land of Conch Shell (1903): “I fancy the lives of its merry little children … as we pass their homes, they run out, double up their soft little bodies and make a smiling salaam, and I know of no sight prettier than the groups of boys and girls carrying books and slates or perhaps simply bundles of olas [leaves of the fan palm used in writing], that we see in the early morning on their way to school. Most of them are neatly and sufficiently clothed, the girls having even found time to weave garlands of white Jessamine in their black knots of hair, and all go leisurely along, laughing and chatting gaily by the way”.
It was in 1834 that the first modern school for boys came up in erstwhile Travancore, in the form of Maharajas Free School, which grew up to become a part of the University College and then broke away to become the SMV High School. It took another 30 years for the first girls’ school to come up in the city. Interestingly, both schools were headed by missionaries.
When John Roberts was invited to erstwhile Travancore to start the school, the only condition he put forward was the freedom to teach the Bible in this school, which was readily conceded by Swati Tirunal. In 1864, when Augusta Blandford was invited by the Travancore king as well as his diwan, T. Madhava Rao, not only was teaching of the Bible central to the curriculum, but the school was housed right inside the fort, a stone’s throw away from the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
Augusta had come to Kerala in December 1862 along with Henry Baker 
Henry Baker Jr

and belonged to the Church of England Zenana Mission, a missionary agency which aimed at spreading the gospel among women. The school was started in Vadakkekottaram, an allegedly haunted palace in the palace complex that was used by the diwan (the Padmavilasom Palace behind the present school was the residence of the diwans. At present, it is the office of the Director of Technical Education). ‘Vadakkekottaram Pallikkoodam’ started with just three girls and one boy, two being the niece and the daughter of Madhava Rao. The school received “suitable furniture, salaries for native teachers, peons etc and £30 for school books” as grant from the Government.
Augusta writes in a magazine India’s Women in 1881 that the Government also published a notice saying, “The dewan is directed to inform the native gentleman of Trevandrum that his highness hopes that they will cheerfully send their female relations to this school and avail themselves of the advantages thus offered”. She mentions Madhava Rao’s family members “Amba Bai and her daughter Suckoo Bai” as “my dear old pupils”. Amba Bai was one of the first students of the Fort Zenana Mission School.
Raising her protest
Augusta Blandford was not only a teacher and a missionary; she was greatly interested in the well being of the girls and young women of the city. We are today in the thick of a controversy over the legal age of marriage of women. In the 19th century, early marriage was practised by all communities and Augusta was one of the first in Travancore to raise her voice against it. A family fable from the city bears testimony to it. Parukutty Amma of the Kaiyalam family in Vanchiyoor went to the Vadakkekottaram Pallikkoodam in late 1890s. When she became a teenager, her family decided to marry her off and her schooling was the first victim. Augusta came to know of this and visited the house in Punnapuram and pleaded with the parents in the brittle Malayalam that she knew “Parukutty Nalla Kutty – Aval Padikatte – Kalayanam Ippol Venda”. The parents relented for a few months, but then did marry off Parukutty. Augusta then continued to visit the house in the evenings and give private tuition to her pupil. Parukutty Amma continued to be motivated by her mentor to such an extent that her descendants remember her as a voracious reader who read almost all the books in the Sree Chithra Thirunal Granthashala in Vanchiyoor. This, perhaps, was not a one-off incident.
(A four-part series on the legacy of Fort Mission School, the first girls’ school in the city. To be continued)

Updated: November 1, 2013 18:33 IST

Harbinger of change

Achuthsankar S. Nair

  • The Zenana Fort Mission School in Thiruvananthapuram in the 1960s. The student strength is impressive in the current times also when many schools are preparing for the vanishing act.
    Special Arrangement The Zenana Fort Mission School in Thiruvananthapuram in the 1960s. The student strength is impressive in the current times also when many schools are preparing for the vanishing act.
  • Tablet in memory of Augusta Blandford.
    Special Arrangement Tablet in memory of Augusta Blandford.
  • Fern Hill Bunglow (Now Bethany Hostel) where Augusta Blandford lived for 36 years. The school also operated from here for some time.
    Special Arrangement Fern Hill Bunglow (Now Bethany Hostel) where Augusta Blandford lived for 36 years. The school also operated from here for some time.
  • The grave stone of Augusta Mary Blandford mention her Travancore connection.
    Special Arrangement The grave stone of Augusta Mary Blandford mention her Travancore connection.
  • Sitting from left to right are the ruler of erstwhile Cochin, British Resident Gordon Mackenzie, Sree Mulam Thirunal and Augusta Mary Blandford.
    Special Arrangement Sitting from left to right are the ruler of erstwhile Cochin, British Resident Gordon Mackenzie, Sree Mulam Thirunal and Augusta Mary Blandford.

  • Scripture class at Fern Hill Bungalow where Augusta Blandford lived for many years.
    Special Arrangement Scripture class at Fern Hill Bungalow where Augusta Blandford lived for many years.

SOS: Save Our Schools: Augusta Mary Blandford worked tirelessly to educate the women in the city. She also opened a hospital for women and children

The Fort Mission School continued to receive patronage from administrators even after Madhava Rao left Travancore in 1872 as Dewan. However, the period under Rama Iyengar was not good for the school. The school was vacated in a week’s notice, but Augusta Blandford ran the school from a rented building outside the fort, which attracted less students, but nevertheless survived. The original school building was soon returned to the school. But there were more crises.
Augusta writes in the magazine India’s Women: “About ten days after we returned to it a fire broke out in the compound and entirely destroyed a shed close to the palace; the woodwork of the upper story was blackened.”
For some time, she managed three schools, two outside the fort and one inside. In her own words: For the next nineteen years a Tamil-English School was carried on there, and educated a large number of girls. A third school was opened by us in Trevandrum in 1885, in which English and Mahratta were taught for the benefit of a number of Maharatta Sudras, who had been settled in the town for about a hundred years.
In 1880, the Fort Mission school came under Church of England Zenana Mission Society (CEZMS)
In the book Southern India, Murray Mitchel refers to a visit in 1885 to Augusta's School. Murray observes: Her class is composed of quite grown-up girls, pleasing and intelligent, giving very thoughtful answers to the questing put. One question was. ‘What is better than gold?’ ‘Knowledge’, at once answered a pleasant-looking girl. ‘And is there anything better than knowledge?’ ‘Yes/ answered another, ‘What is it?’ ‘A pure heart!’ she said. They all seem fond of Miss Blandford, and also of the Miss Gahans.
Murray had this to say about the looks of the kids: Most of the children are disfigured by the elongated ear filled with massive rings and weights, and also by the unbecoming way they dress their hair.
Some have it gathered into an untidy bunch at the left side, and others have the bunch on the forehead; great pities, for the faces are bright and happy and pleasant, and show remarkable intelligence.
Examinations were big events. Augusta writes in 1881 in India’s Women – My annual school examination was held last Monday, and the new Maharajah sent me Rs.30 for prizes. We have had a very good and uninterrupted year for study, and far more regular attendance than ever before. The first class, consisting of nine girls, were examined in arithmetic by the Walia Coil Tambouran, husband of the senior Rani, and in history of India and geography of Travancore by the Malayalim Munshi of the High School and College. Both examiners were fully satisfied with the papers, and the Munshi offered a prize for the best essay to be written, on the ‘Duties of a school-girl’.
This was won by a Christian named Elizabeth. Junior Rani sent a beautifully engraved gold ring as a prize for punctuality. This was given to Salome. Two plain gold rings were given to Elizabeth and Ailey for regular attendance, both having been at school without missing a day for nine months. The school was closed for six weeks’ holiday after the prize distribution, and I hope to re-open on May 23.
Augusta records in great detail about teachers of the school in the book Female Evangelist (1880). Mrs Westcott, the east Indian Mistress is faultlessly punctual and has a salary of Rs. 25, the Brahmin Munshi, who gave her some trouble occasionally, but also paid Rs. 25, Kartiani and Letchmy, former students of the school itself, and Mariam, the infant school mistress. She even records in detail about many of her students, one of whom gifted an enormous bunch of plantain, which two men carried on a stick to the school and reminded her of the spies bringing the grapes of Eschol from the Promised Land.
Augusta lived in Fern Hills Bungalow (behind the Government Women’s College, where she lived for 36 years, now Bethany Hostel), where time seems to stand still and hold her memories. She ran a women and children’s hospital, which is now a hostel in Fern Hill. She herself got trained in Royal Free Hospital in London in 1883 and had the help of “Ms. Chettle and Ms. Lenna Beaumont”.
Augusta Blandford spent 43 years in the city and left in 1906 and died soon after on September 25, 1906, in England. Her gravestone in Ladywell Cemetery proclaims her Travancore connection. The Christ Church in the city has a grand marble tablet in the chancel, in her memory. Her portrait as a young woman hangs on the wall of the school. However, it is almost completely damaged.
In 1906 she wrote: The Fort School is still held in the old palace, and last year one out of three scholars sent up for matriculation passed. May it still continue to flourish!
In her personal letters, she reveals her sadness because she felt that she had failed in her missionary work and attempts at social reform. ‘My farewell to Travancore is a sad one. I came here as a bright young girl… after 43 and half years of labour, the darkness and ignorance seems much the same’.
Looking back, Augusta’s labour was not in vain. She remains a key figure in social transformation among women of the city in the late 19th and early 20th century. Even as early as in the 1940s, many of Augusta’s dreams were already fulfilled.
Miss Adamson who worked in the school from 1912 for some years returned to Kerala in the late 1940s after an absence of 10 years and was “astonished to note the changes taking place in the sphere of women. Caste restrictions were beginning to dissolve… children were sitting next to a child who thought this meant defilement.”
And of course, as we look back from the beginning of the 21st century, we can find that the transformation has come full circle.
Anniversary celebrations
The Fort Girls Mission School begins its 150th year in education on November 3. The year-long celebrations commence on November 4, Monday. Helen Violet, Headmistress of the school, invites all former students, teachers and well-wishers to attend a ‘Guruvandanam’ on November 4. The programme will be inaugurated by K.M. Abraham, Additional Chief Secretary. The school plans to publish a book on the history of the school, unveil a photograph of Augusta Mary Blandford, and also start a number of other activities involving students, management and teachers and the residents of the city.
(The third part of a four-part series on the Fort Mission High School)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For the alternative Urdu-language term of the same name used to describe feminine males, see Kothi (gender).
 Zenana (Persian: زنانه‎, Urdu: زنانہ‎, Hindi: ज़नाना). The literal meaning of the word zenana is "of the women" or "pertaining to women".[1] It contextually refers to the part of a house belonging to a Hindu or Muslim family in South Asia which is reserved for the women of the household.[2][3] The Zenana are the inner apartments of a house in which the women of the family live. The outer apartments for guests and men are called the Mardana.

Prince or noble visiting the zenana or women's quarters

Zenana missions

The Zenana missions were by women missionaries, who went to Indian women in their own homes with the aim of converting them to Christianity. The Baptist Missionary Society inaugurated Zenana missions to India in the early 19th century. The concept was later taken up by other churches such as the Church of England (the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, London) and extended to other countries such as China.
By the 1880s, the "Zenana missions" added medical work to their ministry to encourage conversions and became Zenana Bible and Medical Mission. This involved recruiting female doctors, both by persuading female doctors in Europe to come to India and by encouraging Indian women to study medicine in their pursuit of conversion. They also provided schooling for girls, including the principles of the Christian faith. As a result, the Zenana missions helped break down the male bias against colonial medicine in India to a small extent.[6]
A 11/17/2011 "Men of the Bible" entry from BibleGateway about the apostle Peter mentions Peter's Syrian mission with Antioch as a center, 44-61 AD, during which he was accompanied by his wife, who became the pioneer zenana missionary.

Church of England

The Church of England Zenana Mission was a British Anglican missionary society that was involved in sending workers to countries such as India (19th and 20th centuries) and China (late Qing Dynasty, beginning in 1884).

John Caldecott, born 16 Sept 1801- Royal Astronomer to the Raja of Travancore.

John Caldecott FRS
John Caldecott, born 16 Sept 1801; christened 1 Nov 1801 St Luke’s Church, Old St, Finsbury, Middlesex, London, d 16 Dec 1849, Trivandrum, Travancore. Royal Astronomer to the Raja of Travancore.
This is the home page for one of England's lesser-known but influential scientists: an astronomer, meteorologist and magnetician John Caldecott FRS (1801-1849). I am currently preparing a biography of Caldecott with particular reference to his role in the establishment of an observatory in Trivandrum (Kerala, India) and subsequent observations by successors Alan Broun and Alexander Crichton Mitchell. It was Mitchell's Directorship of the Observatory that led indirectly into his (Mitchell's) invention of the anti-submarine harbour defence system known as indicator loops. If you are a descendant of John Caldecott I would be pleased to hear from you.

If you have any feedback please email me:

Dr Richard Walding
Research Fellow - School of Science
Griffith University
Brisbane, Australia
Email: waldingr49@yahoo.com.au

Dr Walding
John Caldecott was born on 16th September 1801 in the parish of Finsbury, London, just a few miles to the north east of the city centre. He was christened 1 Nov 1801 at the family church - St Luke’s Church in Old Street - but now demolished. His mother Susannah was 20 and his father John (Snr) was 31. By November 1818 the father (John Snr) had not succeeded in getting jobs for his elder sons John (Jnr) and William. John was one month too young to take an opening at Bank of England. Caldecott trained as an architect on the advice of George Dance, one of London's foremeost architects, and a member of the same church. It was George's father, George Dance (Snr) - also an architect and mason - that helped build the church. Little is known of John's activities in England at this time. He (John Caldecott) travelled to India in 1820 aboard the Mulgrave Castle, 460 tons, departing Gravesend 14 January 1821 and then via Madeira, Isle of France, The Cape, Ceylon and arrived in Bombay on 25th May 1821. He then began his employment as assistant to Daniel West at Apollo Cotton at Rs 200 per month plus £100 expenses. The West family was friends with the Caldecotts in London and had established a business in Bombay in 1909. One of the owners, William West - in 1815 - “began investigations in telescopes and microscopes as an evening amusement, a subject in which he took great interest ever after”. This was later to interest John Caldecott. For some years John travelled in India but with his home being mostly in Bombay working with Apollo Cotton. When the steeple of the Scottish Church in Bombay [St. Andrew’s Kirk, in Marine Street, which was built in 1818] was struck by lightning in 1826 it was Caldecott who organised and supervised repairs. On 8 November 1825 he married Selina Darby at this church. His marriage began to fall apart and on 21 December 1827 his wife returned to England. By 1828 John's salary from various employments was now £800 pa taking the Rupee as 1s 8d. In October 1828 he took a voyage down the coast to Travancore (now Kerala, Southern India), to visit his friend Humphrey Owen at a coffee plantation at Alwaye near Cochin. When he returned he resigned from Apollo Cotton on 1st March 1829 and by April had entered a partnership with Own under the title of Owen, Caldecott & Co. – formerly HF Owen & Co.
In August 1831 Caldecott was appointed Commercial Agent and Master Attendant at Alleppey as an employee of the Travancore Government in southern India. This was his first contact with the Church Missionary Society in southern India. He had met John Monroe, the former British Resident for Travancore and Cochin, at a CMS meeting while still in London (in about 1819). The erstwhile states of Travancore and Cochin have now been combined to form the modern state of Kerala. The minister at Cottayam (near Alleppey) Rev. Thomas Norton said “Mr Caldecott our new superintendent in place of Capt. Rorison called today. He manifested and expressed a strong desire to be on friendly terms. He appears to be agreeable. May God give him to receive the truth, and render him a blessing to the place”.
Caldecott had a small bungalow at Alwaye (about 13 km NE of Cochin) that he used in the very hot months from April to June. Here he built an observatory for his portable astronomical instruments. Caldecott shared an interest in astronomy, in which he was self-taught, with General Stuart Fraser, British government representative at Trivandrum, and through Fraser was introduced in 1832 to Swathi Tirunal [Rama Vurmah], Raja of Travancore.
1813 - 1846 H.H. Maharaj Raja Ramaraja Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchipala Rama Varma III [Swati Tirunal],

The Raja was a cultured man who had been educated in the English medium by various tutors and was fascinated by European scientific ideas. Caldecott would often instruct the Rajah's brother (Elija Thirunal) in chemistry during the Elija's student years. Swathi Tirunal had visited Alleppey and inspected Caldecott portable astronomical instruments. Caldecott suggested that a small observatory be built at Alleppey but the Raja offered him a position as astronomer at Trevandrum (Trivandrum) in a new observatory. Operations began using Caldecott's own portable but substantial instruments: namely -
1.(portable) altitude and azithmuth with 18” and 15” circles; (just arrived at Madras)£150
2.30” transit (telescope) by Dolland£84
3.fine equatorial (telescope, mounted) by Troughton & Simms£530
4.Troughton & Simms reflecting circle (portable)£84
5.a 46” refracting telescope (mounted)£140
6.three chronometers£60 each
While the observatory was under construction Caldecott and Taylor undertook a magnetic survey of southern India, through which the magnetic equator passed, using second-hand instruments from previous surveys. T. G. Taylor had been collecting magnetic data at Madras since 26 April 1837. He departed Madras on 23 July 1837 to meet Caldecott at Tranquebar on 2 August 1837 to begin the magnetic survey continuing into 1838. Taylor collected data at Tranquebar on 3 Aug alone, then is joined by Caldecott at Tranquebar where they make joint observations (7, 8, 9 Aug 1837), Negapatam (13 Aug), Manargoody (same day, 13 Aug), Sheally, Pondicherry, Negapatam (13 Aug with JC), Poothocottah, (14 Aug), Munanamelegoody (15 Aug), Kalehennary (16 Aug), Ramuad (17 Aug), Carryshandy (20 Aug), Vadinatum (21 Aug), Powani (22 Aug), Pallamcottah (23 Aug), Nagracoil (25 Aug), Trivandrum (28 Aug, 5,13 Sep). Caldecottt (alone) makes observations at Calicut (Nov 4), Penaney (Nov 5), Chetwaye (Nov 6), Bolghatty (Nov 8), Allepee (12, 13 Nov), Quilon (15 Nov), Trivandrum (20 Nov). There were some unsatisfactory outcomes of this survey due, in part, to defective instruments, but probably also to geological effects unrecognized at the time. At much inconvenience, Caldecott (alone) repeated his observations at Allepee and Cochin with a new needle (in a dip apparatus by T. Jones sent out to Madras from England), prior to his departure to Europe at Trivandrum, and made observations at the meteorological bungalow (15 Dec 1838); at Quilon in the Residency grounds in a mango tree 100 yds south of the house (15 Dec); at Allepee, in a thatched shed in Mr Anderson’s compound south of the house (20 Dec); and finally at Balghatty in the Residency compound in a tent (21 Dec).
In late December 1838 Caldecott sailed for England via the Red Sea in a vessel of his own - 30 tons
- to procure apparatus from the leading makers: namely, a 5 foot transit instrument by Dolland - £180; a transit clock from Thomas Jones £400; two mural circles of 5 ft diameter from Troughton and Simms at £750 each; an astronomical clock from Dent for £60; a powerful reflecting telescope (not sure of the cost but between £150 to £2500); a powerful achromatic refracting telescope (between £150 to £2500); various other items. On his way to London from India he passed through the Red Sea and arrived in Jeddah in March 1839,
intending to visit Mecca in disguise but the Mohammadan who has arranged to accompany him failed in courage at the last moment and would not go. He stopped in Cairo and measured the height of the grand pyramid
using Wollaston's Thermometrical Barometer as 458 feet. He travelled by steamboat
from Alexandria via Syra and then was quarantined in Athens for 10 days. He finally made it to London on 2nd August 1839.
While in London he became aware of plans for a worldwide network of magnetic observatories, and obtained the Raja’s consent to buy a set of magnetic instruments from Grubb of Dublin to match those being provided for the other British and East India Company observatories. On the 10th January 1840 he was Elected Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society and was present at the meeting with John Herschel in the chair. Proposers were Herschel, Bailey, Sabine, Beaufort, Lloyd. At the British Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting at Glasgow in September he was present for a toast to Rajah of Travancore at the dinner on the last evening. Caldecott sailed from England in the autumn of 1840, pausing at Cadiz to visit the Spanish naval observatory at San Fernando, and then the Cairo observatory, reaching Trivandrum in April 1841
a few days after the arrival of the magnetic instruments which he had ordered. A magnetic and meteorological observatory was constructed that year and a new building for the 7 ft equatorial telescope went up in 1842. Taylor helped with the erection of the two mural circles.
Author Dr Richard Walding, sitting in the grounds of Bolghatty Palace near Cochin (in the exact spot where Caldecott took several meteorological and magnetical measurements.
Dr Richard Walding seated in Caldecott's chair in the Trivandrum Observatory (2007).
Caldecott also corresponded with the Scottish scientist J. D. Forbes who was actively promoting experiments to measure deep-soil temperatures, following those made in France; he obtained from Adie of Edinburgh a set of thermometers 3, 6, and 12 French feet in length so that readings would be comparable with the French results. They were put into the ground near the observatory and the results, which were not extensive as one of the thermometers was soon broken, were communicated to the British Association. Though not officially part of the international magnetic observatories network, Caldecott assiduously met the same demanding schedule of observations, which he returned to Edward Sabine at the Royal Society. Isolated, overworked, and harassed by the ‘narrow-minded jealous fool of a Resident’—this was General Cullen, who had replaced the amiable former resident, Foster—and receiving no acknowledgement of his flow of observations and correspondence, he wrote bitterly to Sabine: "you have such little idea of all I have to contend with … to keep scientific matters going here, or I am sure you would be inclined to give me a helping hand … rather than a silence now maintained for 12 months since I first commenced operations". His reward was a batch of letters which had been delayed in transit, including one in which Sabine complained about the excess postage which Caldecott's observations had incurred. Caldecott was even more frustrated when the first abstracts published in England ignored the data from Trivandrum (which Sabine may well have considered less reliable than that from the nearby and official Madras observatory). Caldecott's father John Caldecott (Snr) died, aged 74 years in 1844. He spent 50 years at the Bank of England. His wife (Caldecott's mother) Susannah died 7 weeks earlier aged 63 years.
Dr Achuthsankar Nair (Kerala University) and Dr Richard Walding (Griffith University) inspect the Trivandrum meteorological and magnetical bungalow attached to the Trivandrum Observatory. As mentioned, Caldecott made observations here on 15 Dec 1838.The observatory was designed by John Horsely of the Madras Engineers. Shown here is one of Horsely's other projects - the Karamana Bridge on the outskirts of Trivandrum.

The sundial in the grounds of the TrivandrumObservatory
sun dial
Author inspects one of the early transit telescopes from Caldecott's time - the 7' equatorial.

Caldecott's 7 foot equatorial telescope by Dolland of London. Bought by Caldecott on his 1840-1841 European tour.
Amici's double-image micrometer used by Caldecott on his 7 foot equatorial telescope. ore information micrometer. You can read more at Alberto Meschiari's webpage:http://gbamici.sns.it/eng/strumenti/micrometro.htm
He went to England in 1846 to seek the help of some scientific society to publish his observations, but in vain. He returned to Travancore in 1847; the raja undertook to publish the data and Caldecott was preparing this when he was taken ill. In January 1849 he travelled to Bombay and into the hills, seeking relief. In October he suffered a seizure, recovered, but fell ill on 8 December and was found dead on the morning of 17 December 1849. He left instructions in his will that his wife Selina should be maintained for her lifetime; his effects were then sold, his estate, as he had requested, divided equally between his two brothers William and George. Caldecott's enthusiasm was no substitute for professional training. His results were never published. His successor at the observatory, John Allan Broun, found that the astronomical apparatus had not been properly installed, nor its errors determined. The Indian assistants, less than scrupulous about their observations in Broun's day, had probably grown lax during Caldecott's absences. Nevertheless, the observatory stands as a great monument to the inspired determination of Fraser, Caldecott and the Raja Swathi Tirunal - but also to those to follow in the same century - Broun and Mitchell.
The grounds of the Christ Church, Trivandrum, where Caldecott was buried. John is shown here tidying the grounds.
Inside Christ Church Trivandrum
Christ Church interior [Trivandrum]
Inside Christ Church Trivandrum-old photo

Caldecott's tomb at Christ Church.
Buried next to acting Director of the Observatory while Caldecott was in England - Rev. Josiah Sperschneider.

Munro Island

Paradise in God's Own Country

Colonel John Munro
John Munro enlisted in the British Army in 1791. He fought in Sri Rangapattanam under Arthur Wellessley. He was a linguist and was also a Persian Translator. By 1806 he became the Quarter master General of Madras Army with the rank of Lieutanant Colonel. He was made the Resident of Travancore and Cochin. Munro was ruthless to root out corruption and crime, and was just and forgiving. Though he was a British Resident, as a Divan (Minister) of Travancore and Cochin, time and again, he argued against the British on behalf of the states. In due course, he was loved by the Rajas and Ranees as well as by the people.
History has recorded that Colonel John Munro was the greatest British Administrator of Travancore and Cochin in 150 years of British Dominion.
John Munro went back to his birth place in Teaninich, Ross Shire in Scotland and lived there until he died in 1858. His birth place is now a Tourist Resort.


Visakham Thirunal MAHARAJA

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Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma
Maharaja of Travancore
Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore (1837 - 1885).jpg
Painting of Visakham Thirunal by the Durbar Artist Kizhakkaemadhom Padmanabhan Thampi
Born May 19, 1837
Died August 4, 1885 (aged 48)
Predecessor Ayilyam Thirunal
Successor Moolam Thirunal
Consort Arumana Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Lakshmi Pillai Kochamma
Royal House Venad Swaroopam
Dynasty Kulasekhara
Royal anthem Vancheesamangalam
Father Punartham Thirunal Rama Varma Koil Thampuran
Mother Rani Gowri Rukmini Bayi
Religious beliefs Hinduism
Kingdom of Travancore
Part of History of Kerala
Flag of Travancore
Travancore Kings
Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
Dharma Raja 1758–1798
Avittam Thirunal 1798–1810
Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815
Gowri Parvati Bayi 1815–1829
Swathi Thirunal 1829–1846
Uthram Thirunal 1846–1860
Ayilyam Thirunal 1860–1880
Visakham Thirunal 1880–1885
Moolam Thirunal 1885–1924
Sethu Lakshmi Bayi 1924–1931
Chithira Thirunal 1931–1947
‡ Regent Queens
Padmanabhapuram 1729–1795
Thiruvananthapuram 1795–1947
Padmanabhapuram Palace
Kilimanoor palace
Kuthira Malika
Kowdiar Palace
Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma GCSI FRGS FRAS(19 May 1837 - 4 August 1885) was the Maharaja of the erstwhile Indian kingdom of Travancore from 1880-1885 AD. He succeeded his elder brother Maharajah Ayilyam Thirunal to the throne of Travancore.

Early life

Vishakham Thirunal Rama varma was born on the 19th of May 1837 to Rani Gowri Rukmini Bayi and her husband Punartham Thirunal Rama Varma Koil Thampuran of the Royal Family of Thiruvalla. His mother died when he was barely two months of age leaving him and his elder siblings to the care of their father. His Highness was grandson to Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi and nephew of Maharajah Swathi Thirunal.
As a prince he received his early education from his father, Rama Varma. This was basic training in vernacular Malayalam language and Sanskrit which were essentials for members of the Royal family. At the age of nine he started his English education under Subba Row, who later became Dewan of Travancore. The prince took a keen interest in English composition and his first work, Horrors of war and benefits of peace, was well acknowledged. Some of his compositions were also published in "Madras Athenaeum". He also wrote in The Statesman and the Calcutta Review.

Visakham Thirunal as First Prince with his brother Ayilyam Thirunal and the Dewan Rajah Sir T. Madhava Rao
In 1861 the prince visited Madras and met with the Governor, Sir William Denison, upon whom he made such a favorable impression that the Governor remarked that "He is by far the most intelligent Native I have seen; and if his brother is like him, the prospects of Travancore are very favorable." The prince was soon appointed a Fellow of the University of Madras, a rare honour conferred on natives in those days. While he was still a prince he was also offered a seat in the Viceroy of India's Legislative Council which he, however, declined owing to ill health. He had a special aptitude for botany and agriculture.
He was an erudite scholar and had in his court learned Brahmins, known as Tharka Sastry and used to take their advice in settling cases that were referred to him. There is a story about his asking a question on the Mahabharata and only two in the group of Tharka Sastrys answered. One was Gopala Iyer and according to his request his son, K G Seah Iyer, was made a Munsiff who later became a famous Judge. The other was Gopala Sastry at whose request the Maharajah took up with the British resident to get the son of Gopala Sastry appointed the Sub-Registrar at Tiruchendur.
Both Gopala Iyer (Kadayam) and Gopala Sastry (Mela Cheval) were Vadadesa Vadama Brshmins from Tirunelveli.

Chief Compositions

  • The Horrors of War and Benefits of Peace
  • A Political Sketch of Travancore, Madras Athenaeum
  • Lectures on "Human Greatness", "The relation between nature and art", "Our Morals" and "Our Industrial Status" etc.
  • A Native Statesman, Calcutta Review
  • Observations on Higher Education


Painting by Raja Ravi Varma depicting Richard Temple-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos being greeted by Visakham Thirunal, with Ayilyam Thirunal of Travancore looking on, during Buckingham's visit to Trivandrum, Travancore in early 1880.
The Maharajah's elder brother, Ayilyam Thirunal, died after ruling Travancore for twenty years from 1860 to 1880. As per the Marumakkathayam law, Prince Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma succeeded to the Travancore throne in 1880. He introduced a number of reforms including changes in the education system, police department, justice and judiciary etc. He furthered the cultivation of Tapioca which became so popular and commonly available that it came to be known as the poor man's meal in Travancore.

Family and demise

The Maharajah fell ill towards the end of July in 1885 at the age of 48 and died on the 4th of August 1885. His Highness was married in 1859 to a noblewomen of the Arumana Ammaveedu of Trivandrum with which family more than one of his ancestors had been related through marriage, Arumana Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Lakshmi Pillai Kochamma (educated privately and in English by the Church of England Zenana Mission in Trivandrum since 1865. Within the royalty and nobility of Trivandrum, she was the first lady to commence English Education), descendant of Maharajah Balarama Varma and Dharma Raja. The Maharajah chose his own consort, causing displeasure to his uncle and the then Maharajah, Uthram Thirunal.From this marriage the Maharajah had issue four children. His eldest and only son, Sri Narayanan Thampi, who started the first bus services in Travancore (Trivandrum-Nagercoil route), was born in 1865.
He married a daughter of Irayimman Thampi who was also of royal descent. In 1873 the Maharajah and his wife had their eldest daughter Bhagavati Pillai Kochamma who married Sri Rajaraja Varma Avargal of the Mavelikara Royal family. Their next daughter was born in 1876, Rukmini Pillai Kochamma who married Sri Kerala Varma Thirumulpad. The Maharajah's youngest daughter, Bhageerathi Pillai Kochamma was born in 1877 and was married to Sri Rama Varma of the Royal Family of Poonjar. The Thali Kettu Kalyanam of the Maharajah's daughters was conducted on the 18th of May 1883 in a grand public ceremony with the above mentioned husbands, as recorded by the French Ambassador in the Travancore Court.


Under the Marumakkathayam law of matriarchy the Maharajah was succeeded not by his own children but by those of his sisters. The Maharajah had only one sister and was succeeded by her younger son, Maharajah Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma GCSI, GCIE. This King reigned from 1885 till his demise in 1924. His nephew, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was the last independent Maharajah of Travancore before ceding his state to India in 1947.

Official full name

Officially he was also known with his full title: His Royal Highness Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma Kulasekhara Kiritapathi Manney Sultan Maharajah Raja Ramaraja Bahadur Shamsher Jang

See also

Visakham Thirunal
Born: 19 May 1837 Died: 4 August 1885
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ayilyam Thirunal
Maharaja of Travancore
Succeeded by
Moolam Thirunal


November 8, 2013 20:31 IST

Upholding the legacy


  • The 100-year-old school building Photo: Achuthdankar S. Nair
    The Hindu The 100-year-old school building Photo: Achuthdankar S. Nair
  • Dorothy Taylor was the last foreigner to lead the Fort Mission schoo. She authored the history of the school from 1864-1964
    Special Arrangement Dorothy Taylor was the last foreigner to lead the Fort Mission schoo. She authored the history of the school from 1864-1964
  • The school bell of the Fort Mission School
    Special Arrangement The school bell of the Fort Mission School

In its sesquicentennial year, Fort Mission School remains an ordinary school with an extraordinary history and heritage, nurtured by a bevy of staff and students who were devoted to carrying forward the vision of founder-headmistress Augusta Blandford

After the times of Augusta Blandford, Fort Mission School (Zenana Mission School) had a number of committed women to lead it. The first one was Louise Moncrieff Cox who was brought to Travancore in 1896 by Blandford. She took charge of the school in 1906.
In 1911-12, Bastow, the Chief Engineer, examined the school building and found it weak. The children were moved out to a rented building and the building repair started. Cox records that she was “filled with profound gratitude that a Hindu state should grant Rs. 8000/- for the use of mission school”. All the repairs were of no use. The school building (Vadakkekottaram) collapsed in a raging monsoon on June 3, 1913. Cox noted in her diary the next day: “Faith looks on and sees rising from that place something grander and better”, inspired by the biblical verse in Haggai, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, and in this place I will give peace”.
Bastow designed a new building in the same site and it was ready in a year. In this fiftieth year of the school, the then Governor of Madras Lord Pentland opened the new building [Pentland was acclaimed for his interest in the indigenous tradition and culture of India. He wrote to the Viceroy of India to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake an extensive and intensive survey of Rameshwaram and its beautiful environs, particularly with reference to the historic and primordial Adam’s Bridge. He is also infamous for his crackdown on Annie Besant and leaders of the Home Rule Movement]. On the occasion, Lady Pentland was presented with “a carved box in which a short history of the school from 1864-1914 was placed”. Cox left the school after leading it for 14 years in 1920 and died in Ireland in 1941.
In the 1910s a lot of changes took place in educational system with the advent of education code and the school was sanctioned only primary and middle school sections. Elder girls moved to “Girl’s High School in Cantonment” (present Malayalam Department of University College). These girls assembled every month for an “Old Girls Meeting” at Fern Hill [perhaps the first effective alumni gathering in the city. The school is also famed for one of the first major initiatives in organising a parent-teacher association in Kerala].
Miss Adamson who reached the city in 1912 was the head of the school during this period. She left India in 1922, though she returned thrice afterwards and the visits gave her a view of the transformation of the city in a way that the locals could not get. It was then the turn of Emma Beaumont. Lenna Beaumont and Emma Beaumont were daughters of an English Army Officer and an Anglo-Indian mother and the former served as a doctor and latter as a teacher in Blandford’s Mission. Emma was for many years in the Christ Church choir and lies buried on the church premises. Her brother-in-law was palace physician, Campbell Perkins.
Miss Dawes, a history graduate from West Field College, London University, and great-grand daughter of British Resident Newall, joined the school in 1946 and watched as the Government assumed more and more authority over private schools. Miss Dawes mentions that 1950-59 were “years of devolution of authority, made necessary by the wish and policy of the society”.
Dorothy Taylor, who joined the school in 1922, retired after 34 years of service and returned to England in 1956. She was a popular English teacher and used to give classes in All India Radio, Thiruvananthapuram. She has left behind an unpublished history of the school, which is getting ready for publication after 50 years. She, much like Blandford, graphically describes the ethos of the school and the societal transformation. She has even put down her favourite poem (by Annie Mattheson) that she used to teach the students:
Where are the snow drops? said the sun;
Dead, said the frost, buried and lost, everyone
A foolish answer, said the sun,
They did not die, asleep they lie, everyone
And I will wake them, I, the sun…
In 1951, the school was given high school status. The first headmaster of the primary school was M. J. Jones and Saramma Philip Oommen became the first headmistress. Soon two new classrooms were built. There was no maharaja to support, but the school received contributions from the public. The management of the school was left to a board comprising members of the Christ Church and under the chairmanship of A. H. Legg, Bishop in South Kerala Diocese.
Currently the school is managed by a board of management headed by former headmistress Susamma Abraham, with members from both Central and South Kerala Diocese. Headmistresses of the recent past include Molly George (who was also school manager for sometime) and Elizabeth Issac. The present headmistress is Helen Violet.
The centenary of the school was celebrated in 1964 in the University Senate Hall and Taylor flew in from England to attend it. An unnamed alumnus, an advocate in the High Court, spoke: “Though this mother is 100 years old, she is always bringing about social, economic and cultural changes in the lives of all her children, and she keeps watch over them in whatever sphere and whatever climes they are working. To me my Alma Mater means my dear sweet, sweet Mother”.
The school is presently facing a space constraint. It desires to expand to a higher secondary school, but is facing not only the issue of having required land, but, more importantly, not having ‘pattayam’ (title deed). The alumni and well-wishers of the school hope that the Government will take up this issue. The sesquicentennial celebrations held on November 4 this year witnessed this demand.
The school now has around 600 students, not much different from the strength of 700 it had in the centenary year (It has a generous mix of Hindu, Muslim and Christian students, Christians being the least). It is heartening that when many public schools are going through tremendous erosion in student strength over last couple of decades, girls’ schools in the city present a contrasting picture. Both Fort Mission School and Cotton Hill Girls High School are shining examples for the same. However, what Dorothy Taylor said in 1946 is very much true: “We are no longer a rather unique school, but just one among the very ordinary schools”. Fort Mission School remains an ordinary school with an extraordinary history and heritage.
Pride of place
The Fort Mission School has a long list of alumnae such as Ambu Bai, Kaveri Bhai and Suckoo Bai of Dewan T. Madhava Rao’s family, Kaiyalam Parukutty Amma, Adoor Bhasi (possibly in the primary school), Kalyanikutti Amma (wife of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai), Kalaranjini, Kalpana, Kavitha/Urvashi (and their mother Ammini), Ponnamma Pattom Thanupillai, B. Arundhathi, (Carnatic and playback singer), S. Bhagyalakshmi (Carnatic singer), R Mini (handball player), J. Gaurikutti Amma (educationist) and bureaucrat J. Lalithambika.
(The concluding part of the series on the Fort Mission School)
Formation of the C.M.S Church

English East India Company established a factory at Anjengo in Travancore in 1685by obtaining land from the Attingal Rani. 

    In the 18th century. the fear of invasion from Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, forced the government of  Travancore to get military protection from the English East India Company. In November 1795, a treaty of perpetual friendship and alliance was signed between the Rajah of Travancore and the East India Company.  The treaty was again modified in 1805, which established British paramountcy over Travancore. The treaty made it possible for a permanent presence of a British Resident in the Court of Travancore. The first Resident was    Col. Colin Macaulay (1800-1810).  He was followed by Col. John Munro (1810-1819).
Col Monroe was a strong Anglican Christian and was interested in the CMS and its activity and also in the Malankara Church.  The first wave of Missionary thrust to India was by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1816.

 "From its beginnings in the crucible of the campaign to abolish slavery, a small group of pioneers became a worldwide network of people in mission/.The Society was founded in Aldersgate Street in the City of London on 12 April 1799. Most of the founders were members of the Clapham Sect, a group of activist evangelical Christians. The founders of CMS were committed to three great enterprises: abolition of the slave trade, social reform at home and world evangelisation.

The overseas mission work of CMS began in Sierra Leone in 1804 but spread rapidly to India, Canada, New Zealand and the area around the Mediterranean. Its main areas of work in Africa have been in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and Sudan; in Asia, CMS's involvement has principally been in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and Japan; and in the Middle East, it has worked in Palestine, Jordan, Iran and Egypt." http://www.cms-uk.org/default.aspx?Tabid=181
In 1808  Marthoma VI (Mar Dionysius I) 

made an attempt to raise funds from among the community and was able to collect , 840 poovarahans (star pagoda gold coins = Rs 2,940 of that time) from the Malankara Syrian Christian community.  To this amount the British resident in Travancore, Col. Macaulay added another 2,160 Poovarahans (Rs 7,560) a contribution from the government of Tranvancore from money collected as fines from Hindus by the Travancore government for their crimes against the Syrian Christians - a total of 3000 Poovarahan equivalent to Rs 10,500/-  a large amount at that time.   Marthoma VII deposited  this money at annual interest of 8% which was to be paid to the Church annually.  This investment was called Vattipanam (interest money). 

Poo Varahan - Star Pagoda Gold Coin of East India Company was the gold coin minted in Madras during 1740 -1807  and was the standard until 1816

Though many of the Jacobite theology was at variance with the Protestant theology there was lot of cooperation between the CMS and the Syrian Churches. Among the prominent missionaries were Thomas Norton, Benjamin Bailey, Joseph Fenn and Henry Baker, who are common names among the Christians even today. They started the CMS Press in Kottayam in 1821, and began to publish Malayalam Bible and Christian literature for the use of common people. 1825, they published the gospel of Matthew, and in 1828, the New Testament, and in 1841, the complete bible.  The availability of the bible in the hands of the people had made much difference in the growth of Christianity in Kerala.  Again Theological Education which was introduced by the CMS missionaries had also its impact in the later growth  and divisions of the churches among the Nasranis.

The Orthodox Church had no educational institution of its own for the training of candidates to priest hood. To remedy this in 1813 Pulikottil Joseph Ramban, a senior priest of the church from Kunnamkulam took the initiative and as the result of his work the Kottayam Seminary was started in 1815. The Bishops of Malankara Syrian Christian Church, Pulikkottu Mar Divannaciose (1817-18), Punnatra Mar Divannaciose (1818-27) and Cheppadu Mar Divannaciose (1827-52) and they all helped in the project.  In fact this institution was the center and the starting point of the reformation within the church.
Col. John Munro impressed by the plan encouraged Joseph Ramban (Professor Joseph)  by all possible means at his disposal. At that time Col. Munroe was both the Resident of the Crown of England and also the Divan (Prime Minister) of the then ruling Rani Laxmi Bhai, the Regent Ruler of Travancore.  Hence he was able to give to the church 16 acres of  land and the timber for construction of the buildings and also the cost of Rs.2000 for the construction of the Seminary. 

Soon the resident came to realize that according to the original stipulation the recipient of the interest - the Vatti Panam -  had to be the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church and that the Seminary needed competent teachers to undertake teaching work in it. It appears that there was some conflict of interest between the Marthoma and Monroe.  The only way to channel the money to the seminary was to make Joseph Ramban  a Bishop.  The only bishop available outside of Marthoma at that time who could lend co-operation to perform the consecration of was the  Metropolitan of Thozhiyur. Thozhiur was glad to extend this courtesy to the Resident when he was so requested.  Joseph Ramban, thus, was ordained as bishop with the name Mar Dionysius II in 1816 and later a Royal proclamation from both the states of Travancore and Cochin were issued to confirm Mar Divanyous  as the Metropolitan of the Orthodox church.  But those who insisted on Antiiochian authoriry within the Church and within the Seminary Staff began to question the validity of Dionysius Episcopal status  because he was ordained from Thozhiyoor Church and not from the Orthodox Church. This party was headed by the Konattu Malpan another Professor at the newly founded seminary. 

At the time of Gee Varghese mar phelexinos (kidangan) of Thozhiyur (1811-1829) Malankara church was in series of troubles in its administration. Thozhiyur bishop consecrated three consecutive bishops for Malankara as Malankara Methran viz. Pulikkottil Mar Divannasios, Punnathra Mar Divannasios and Cheppat Mar Divannasios.  Even Gee varghese mar Phelexinos (kidangan) himself was in charge of Malankara Methran for a short period.  Thus the church leaders of Malankara Syrian Christian Church and C.M.S. worked together from 1816 to 1836. The Metropolitans Pulicottil Mar Dionysius II (Valiya Mar Dionysius 1815-16) and Punnathara Mar Dionysius III (1817-25) were highly pleased with the services rendered by the CMS. This is evident from the letter reproduced below from the Metropolitan.


colleges], zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and ... were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam and ...


The Govt. College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram is a prestigious institution that has to its credit a history of more than 100 years of excellence in the field of women education and is a pioneering institution in the field of higher education. The Govt. College for Women is the sixth oldest college in Kerala and one of the oldest women’s colleges in the country. It was started as the Sircar Girl’s School, in 1864 by the Royal family of Travancore .In 1897 the Sircar Girl’s School was upgraded as a Second grade college and re-designated as The Maharaja’s College for Girls and affiliated to the Madras University. In 1920, it was elevated to the status of a First grade college and was renamed as H.H. The Maharaja’s College for Women. Today the College has 22 teaching departments that conduct 16 U.G. courses and 17 P.G. courses. Nine of the departments are identified as research centres by the University of Kerala.
The college was established with a clear mission to provide women with a modern, liberal education and thus to transform society and the nation. While the Women’s college is still committed to the ideas of liberal education, it recognizes the fact that times have been changed that it must adapt and evolve to keep up with the rapidly changing world. The college addresses the needs of the society through providing quality non-formal education too. A dynamic Continuing Education Sub-Centre conducts many courses, all of them are job oriented.
In academic and co-curricular activities, the College has been a model institution. Its achievements, of turning out thousands of capable and motivated women who have enriched homes and organizations, have helped to transform Kerala into an internationally emulated model. Since its establishment in 1897, the College has succeeded in producing an endless array of illustrious, motivated and meritorious women who have enlightened and enriched this state in so many different ways. This institution can be legitimately proud of a galaxy of alumnae who have distinguished themselves in various fields.

During the reign of Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal (1860–1880),

 a full-fledged Arts College was started here besides the several English, Malayalam and Tamil schools, all over the State. A large hospital with lying-in-facility and a lunatic asylum were also established in Thiruvananthapuram. The Trivandrum University College was started in 1873, with Dr. Read as its principal. A Law class was opened in Thiruvananthapuram in 1874 AD, and the main building of the old Kerala Government Secretariat was designed and constructed by the Maharajah's chief engineer, Mr. Barton. Mr. Barton also improved the sanitation of the city. It was during the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal (1885–1924), that the Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College, Law College and a second grade College for Women were started here. A department for the preservation and publication of oriental manuscripts was also established.
One of the significant aspects associated with Maharaja Sree Moolam Thirunal’s reign was the inauguration of the Legislative Council in 1888. This was the first legislative chamber, instituted in an Indian State. The Sri Moolam Assembly came into being in 1904.
During the regency of Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bai, the college for Women at Trivandrum was raised to the first grade.


GHSS Cottonhill


This school was started in 1859 by the Maharaja Sri Uthram Thirunal.

 Free school for girls in Thiruvananthapuram  which continued to function in the present day Sanskrit college building at Palayam 

 till  the tenure of Sir .C.P.Ramaswami Iyyer, the Divan of Travancore. Later it was split into three by Sir C.P. one was taken to Paruthikunnu(Cottonhill).Cotton Hill School, Thiruvananthapuram Later cottonhill became prominent. There were U.P and primary sections, later it was upgraded as H.S in 1935 and the L.P section got bifurcated


Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society

Collection Details

Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society held at Information Services: Special Collections (Archives and Manuscripts) [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Scope and content:
Records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1880-1968, comprising minutes of the General Committee, 1880-1968, Executive Committee, 1898-1957, Candidates Committee, 1882-1957, Finance Committee, 1881-1957, Home Organisation Committee, 1896-1957 and other Committees and Sub-Committees; rolls and registers of missionaries, 1880-1957; correspondence and administrative papers of the Society's Secretaries; financial records; legal records; publications including annual reports, periodicals and newsletters, printed leaflets and booklets reports of missions, and books written by missionaries; photographs of officers and missionaries. The collection also includes copies of some issues of 'The Indian Female Evangelist', published by the Indian Female Normal School and Instruction Society, 1872-1880.Extent: 247 volumes, 105 files, 39 docs, 27 photographs, 11 collecting boxes and a wooden plaque.Language: EnglishDate: 1872-1968

History and development

Administrative history:
The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was founded in 1880 when it separated from the interdenominational Indian Female Normal School Society (founded 1852). Its main aim was to evangelise the women of India by means of normal schools [teacher training colleges], zenana visiting, medical missions, Hindu and Muslim female schools and the employment of Bible women. The Society was to work in close co-operation with the Church Missionary Society. In 1957 it amalgamated with CMS. A board of trustees continued to administer the transfer of property and trust funds until 1968.The overseas work of the society started in India but spread to China in 1884, Japan in 1886 and Ceylon in 1889. Work in China ended in 1950 when the missionaries had to leave, but from 1952 they worked amongst the Chinese in Malay. Work in Japan had to be given up in 1892 and it was handed over to CMS. When the Female Education Society (founded 1843) closed down in 1900 CEZMS took over their work in Singapore, though the Singapore School sub-committee (secretary 1904-1912 Lady Gage Brown, 1913 Miss E. Gage Brown) was not fully integrated until 1913.CEZMS missionaries began teaching in zenanas and day-schools. The chief stations were Trivandrum, Palamcotta (Sarah Tucker College), Masulipatam and Madras in South India, Meerut (handed over to CMS 1893), Jabalpur, Calcutta (Normal School) and Amritsar (Alexandra School) in North India. Medical work was of great importance. The Society had taken over the work at Amritsar (St. Catherines' hospital) and other hospitals and dispensaries were established in Bhagalpur, Srinagar, Peshawar (Connaught hospital), Batala, Narowal and Tarn Taran. Work was also done by village missions, a central village from which evangelists visited dozens of villages grouped around the centre. The chief places for these in the 1880s were Jandiala, Ajnala, Narowal, Tarn Taran and Nadiya. Industrial work was begun in 1883, with a class at Amritsar. The Indian Widows' Union was set up in England in 1889. English widows raised financial support for Indian widows' industries. It was active from 1889 to 1946/7 and its reports are entered in the Annual Reports [G/E L 1/1]. There was also work amongst the deaf and dumb in India (at Palamcotta from 1900, Mylapore from 1914) and amongst the blind in China at Kucheng, and Nantai, Foochow.Source: Rosemary A. Keen, Catalogue of the papers of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1987.Custodial history:The archives of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society passed into the custody of the Church Missionary Society on the amalgamation of the two societies. The records were then deposited with the Special Collections Department in the 1980s.


The records of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society constitute an important missionary archive. It is a particularly rich resource which facilitates study in a wide range of diciplines offering opportunities for in-depth research into aspects of Asian history, religion and culture.

General arrangement and access regulations

Open to all registered readers.System of arrangement:The archives have been listed in four sections or sub-fonds, corresponding to the departments of the four Secretaries in charge in 1952 when the Society gave up its separate office and moved its headquarters and Home to Cromwell House. These comprised the Clerical Secretary's Department [CEZ/G]; the Foreign and Candidates Secretary's Department [CEZ/C]; the Financial Secretary's Department [CEZ/F]; and the Home Organisations Secretary's Department [CEZ/H]. At that time the Publication Committee and House (Home and Depot) Committee were wound up. By 1953 the Foreign and Home Departments were combined under Miss Winifred Chapman.

click and read:-Tamil Bible Women and the Zenana Missions of Colonial South ...

Sep 12, 2012 - The zenana missions, women's missionary organizations for the edu- cation and .... Micheal Roberts (Columbo: Marga Institute [Sri Lanka Center for ..... fo========================

click and read:-chapter vji - Shodhganga

by S Noorgehan - ‎2010
Blandford of the Zenana Mission opened a Girls' School within Fort. ...... for Women, Trivandrum ( 1 897). the Teachers' Training College, Trivandrum (I91 I),.

The Ways of Faith: Zenana Mission in Trivandrum, 1864-1964 - Jstor

by GS JAYASREE - ‎2006
Apr 29, 2006 - Zenana. Mission in Trivandrum, 1864-1964. This paper is an account of the services of the Church of England Zenalna Mission Society in.

zanana mission hostel - Thiruvananthapuram - Wikimapia

wikimapia.org › IndiaKerala
zanana mission hostel is a hotel, hostel located in Thiruvananthapuram. zanana mission hostel - Thiruvananthapuram on the map.

The Church of England Zenana Missionary Society jubilee souvenir 1880-1930

read on Read online:-


The Life and Times of Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi ...

 click and read on line:-At the Turn of the Tide: The Life and Times of Maharani Setu ...

Lakshmi Raghunandan - 1995 - ‎Queens
... a garden party, or to Major Dawson's or to the Zenana Mission Fancy Sale. ... to Kalpalakkatavu with the Ranis after breakfast and left Trivandrum in separate ...