Once beautiful and popular palace garden; now off-limits
For a century -until 1980 - this was Colombo’s most popular public park. It was British governor Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon who in 1887 decided to open his private garden to the public. 1887 was the year of Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee celebrations and he spared no expenses to turn the four acres of land into a wonderful pleasure garden. It boasted grass fields, lotus ponds, an amazing variety of trees including some huge banyan trees, and a marble statue of Queen Victoria.
Gordon Gardens was always a popular place for picnics and sports: “Gordon Gardens was a favourite destination, church choirs would sit in the grass and sing and if you were lucky you’d see a sailor or two.” says Ranee Ratnayeke, who worked in Fort in the post-war years. Then the civil war changed everything and the park became strictly off-limits. Even the statue of Queen Victoria was removed from the gardens. In 2016 the park and palace opened for the public once again, just for one day…
Nice to know
In 1881 when the garden was still a popular park, it was the location for the annual Royal-Thomian cricket match. In this legendary match Colombo’s elite Royal College fight it out on the pitch against the equally prestigious St. Thomas' College from Mount Lavinia. Affectionally called The Battle of the Blues, it still is a big thing on Colombo’s sport and social calendar.