Nestled deep in the misty, rocky mountainside of Haputale in an alienated piece of land, the Adisham Monastery is a place like no other. This 19th-century Tudor-styled Elizabethan Manor was built by the British nobleman Sir Thomas Lister Villiers and now serves as a monastery for Benedictine monks.
Located on 10 acres of sprawling, lush land and boasting of magnificent views of the surrounding hillsides, Adisham is a picture-perfect mansion cropped right out of an English novel from a different century altogether. Formerly known as the Adisham Hall, it was acquired by the Oblates of St. Benedict in 1961. Forty-eight years afterward, Adisham is now primarily a monastery and novitiate and still retains its Old English Charm through pristine preservation and it remains as one of those rare places that remain untouched by the hands of time. With carefully tended gardens and orchards enclosed in by picket fences, tasteful, antique furniture, Burma teak shingles and stone walls, Adisham is charming in every sense.
The dark granite walls of Adisham hold a treasure trove of wonders within them – one wing of the bungalow opens up into the breathtaking view of the picturesque Uva valley while the remaining wings of Adisham remain a treat to the eyes. The lush lawns, flowerbeds, and orchards of the manor are replete with enchanting roses, orchids, apples, strawberries, and Victorian plums that flourish under the warm tropical sun and cool mountain air.
THE HISTORY OF ADISHAM
The original construction of Adisham started in 1929 when Sir Thomas Villiers had it designed in the exact pattern of his childhood country home in Kent. The bungalow was designed in Tudor style on the lines of the Leed’s castle by British architects and with no expenses spared.
The construction was completed by 1931 and the mansion flaunted special masonry by temple masons from South India and boasted of stunning structural designs as well as heavy period furniture, huge fireplaces, carpets and linen imported from Britain. The gardens of Adisham were adorned with colorful flowerbeds and its extensive lawns entertained the elite of Ceylon many a time.
The ownership of the mansion changed hands in 1951 when it was sold to a Sri Lankan company. Later, the bungalow was bought by Benedictine monks. Today, Adisham is a location that is reminiscent of the luxurious life of a British citizen who lived in Sri Lanka as it was under the British Crown and Sir Thomas’s legacy lives on in the long turret windows, immaculately terraced lawns and solid granite walls of Adisham.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF ADISHAM
The Tudor-styled bungalow boasts of solid granite walls of locally quarried stone as well as long, narrow turret windows and chimneys. The roof is flat Burma teak shingles and the doors, windows, floors, and staircases were of the same too. The architecture and design are every bit similar to an Elizabethan country mansion.
Adisham is not a very old structure but it’s so arresting that it remains as one of the best attractions in the Hill country of Sri Lanka and the hordes of visitors to the mansion attest to the fact that Adisham is indeed a magnificent and a must-visit location in SriLanka. Although Sri Lanka boasts of a myriad of colonial tea plantation bungalows, it has only one stately home – Adisham.
The Adisham Monastery seems to belong to some other era entirely and it dominates the scenery of undulating hills and plunging valleys stretching into the distance. The mansion stands alone at peace with the woodlands as a background and echoing with harmonious birdsong.
The Adisham Monastery is a haven in the hills and it remains an iconic relic of Sri Lanka’s rich colonial past which continues to enchant hundreds of visitors with its magical charm.