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Norah Roberts book on Galle

Anne Winter Williams

Dear Editor,

I recently managed to obtain a copy of Norah Robert's book about Galle and the work of my ancestors and the families we knew and loved in the area.However, since this book is historical , I must correct quite a serious error on her part when she refers to William Wilberforce as a Methodist. I was confirmed a Methodist like my mother but my gt. gt grandfather, George Winter, the sugar pioneer of Baddegama, was very much an Anglican, who was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham by the Rev. Venn and took the first Church of England missionaries to Lanka in the ship he part owned, called the Vittoria.

These men reached Galle on June 17th 1818 annd one of them was the Rev. Mayor, who with others was responsible for the building of the first 'proper' Anglican church in the island built on a most lovely spot across the river from 'Sunnyside' at Baddegama where George Winter had his sugar factory.It is where many of my ancestors together with my own parents and grandfather, Alfred Winter are also buried and where the wonderful Rev. Lakdasa de Mel also served.

The Methodists came earlier and one of their own churches was planned and built by another of my ancestors, who also drew the early maps for the British of the roads of the islands. He was a German soldier named Schneider who had orginally served the Dutch.I was taken for walks on a Sunday to the ramparts and the butterfly bridge park by the nuns of the Sacred Heart Convent. We loved the freedom this provided from the 'prison' of the boarding.I am truly sorry that the name of our lovely N.O.H was changed to Aman Galla as Galle is not supposed to derive from a Galla (rock) but Gaarle a animal compound. It is not a 'peace rock' but a solid Fort built for protection by my Dutch ancestors and is now a World Heritage site and rightly so.

As a Lankan, I thank the Dutch for helping preserve it as did the British for preserving the ancient cities of my Sinhala ancestors. All of them left us with such a wonderful inheritance to be proud of.I t is therefore, sad to see that some can only see the negative aspects of all this especially in Galle may I remind my Sinhalese kinfolk that they too were an invading force just as the English were in Britain and the Celts and Romans before them.History is full of such invasions just think of India and its lovely Taj Mahal and the Greek conquest of the North.

Throughout the ages, kingdoms have risen and fallen and not all the conquerors did can be regarded as bad. I just wonder what Vijaya and his cohorts did to the aboriginal tribes that dwelt in Lanka.Where are they now?

I will check on the military medal (VC)that my grand aunt is supposed to have worn but it is the first I have heard of this and should have after all these years of research. I am sorry I never got to contact Miss Roberts but maybe her publishers and relatives may see this and make the necessary corrections as it is part of the history of the Anglican church.

The Rev. Venn is said to be the founder of the Church Missionary Society and was of the 'Clapham Sect' of Holy Trinity church as was William Wilberforce and others who managed to end the trading in slaves.

Yours sincerely,
Anne Winter Williams

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