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An aristocrat's grand old house

(Reproduced from the Daily Mirror January 9, 2002)

By Damitha Hemachandra and Asma Edris 

It was once the house of Dodanwela Nilame, an aristocrat from Kurunegala. Then it changed hands to become the house of "St. Clare's." Nearly 100 years later, today it is a house of entertainment and relaxation known as Situ Medura. Despite its age, its grandeur and elegance have remained the same. Built in an architectural style belonging to the 18th century, Situ Medura is a combination of the past and present blended in a tasteful manner. 

Situ Medura is more than a place to relax. It is a house of antiques and ancient treasures; old oil lamps, bulattattuwas and pettagamas as well as a reception highlighted with woodcarvings and liyarata. The lampshades are designed in wood with elaborate woodcarvings in the shape of Vesak lanterns or atapattam kuudu harmonising with the reception area. Old sesath and muraathu are scattered in almost all the corners adding more elegance to the interior. An old photograph of the house with its original inhabitants hangs in the portico just below a head of a deer as old as the photograph itself. 

The photograph shows locals and foreigners gathered in front of the house in an era when a true count graced the place. Another curious piece of art is the bar with its roof designed in an ancient Sinhala architectural pattern. Decorated with clay roof tiles and sideboards with old woodcarvings, the bar tries to fit in with the theme of the restaurant. A replica of this design opposite the bar marks the stairway leading upstairs and balances the setting. The stairway takes you to one of the nicest places in the restaurant - a dining table on the balcony sheltered by shadows of the surrounding trees. On a starry night this dining venue makes a great place to dine.

Some of the trees surrounding the house are older than the house itself and so are most of the furniture. Many items of furniture were not the original pieces belonging to the house but were added many years later to this unique restaurant by owner Jayantha Hunukumbura. "The idea was to create a place where you can relax while being in touch with your roots. My attempt was to preserve the rich heritage of the house and to keep it that way," he says. 

 

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Last Updated Date: September 25, 2003 .