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The Wolvendaal Church: 375 Years In Colombo.

The Wolvendaal Church, also known as the Christian Reformed Church, celebrated its 375th birthday in October this year.

With walls that are nearly 5 feet thick, the church is constructed in the form of a Greek Cross. Its original dome had a crowned lion mounted atop, holding a sword and seven arrows in each of its front paws. Each arrow was meant to represent the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic. However, this monument was destroyed by a lightning bolt in 1856 and the dome was replaced with an iron covering.

The request for a church was first brought forward by the then Governor Gustaaf Willem Baron Van Imhoff, as the old church in Colombo Fort was falling to decay. His proposal was not considered seriously until Governor Stein Van Gollenesse arrived in Ceylon in 1743. The site in Wolvendaal was selected for two main reasons; the first was its proximity to Fort and the entrance to the city, and second was the fact that there was already a smaller church in the vicinity, which was used as a school-room during weekdays. The foundation for the new church was laid in 1749 and took eight years to complete.

With flaking walls and an unkempt exterior, the Wolvendaal Church is an old, and often overlooked, icon in Colombo.

Similar to the Dutch Reformed Church in Galle, you will find tombstones adjoining the walls outside.

Hardbound copies of The Herald (monthly newsletter) from the early 1900s line some of the shelves here.

The chandelier in the central hall looks delicate and papery.

We were told that this pipe organ is over 150 years old. The dull copper, green, and mahogany hues blend in beautifully with the old church.

There is no elaborate artwork on the stained glass windows here.The glass windows are a deep, murky green.

The church is deserted during most of the day, but is filled with worshippers during Sunday Service.

People do, however, occasionally drop in to sightsee the place. This family came with a lively young child.

The caretaker’s premises are just outside the church. He lives there with his family. This is his boy.

Like many other places of worship, the church is a serene, calm, and quiet space in the middle of one of the busiest areas in Colombo. Look out its doors just beyond the lawn: the chaos of the city is just a step away.

Text by Aisha Nazim

Cover image: everipedia.com

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