Once upon a time in the land known to many as “paradise,” there lived a wealthy landowner and philanthropist by the name of (brace yourself) Padikara Mudali Nanayakkara Rajawasala Appuhamilage Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena.
Don Arthur de Silva, as he is more commonly known, dreamed of owning his own castle built according to the great architecture and art of the buildings he admired during his education in England as well as the palace of the Maharaja of Ramnad in India. His dream came true in 1910 when the majestic Richmond Castle opened its doors—99 of them, to be exact.
Sprawled across a 42-acre estate, the castle features intricate carvings, 34 windows embellished with stained glass of exquisite designs, an immense dance hall and staircase of teak especially imported from Burma. The architectural gem is a fusion of different styles from the East and West—tiles from India, window panes from Italy and Scotland, Roman-Dutch style details.
The palatial castle was fit for a fairytale, but Don Arthur de Silva needed a princess. When he wed his bride Clarice the couple was welcomed by not just a throng of locals but the Maharaja of Ramnad and the Prince and Princess of Wales. Unfortunately, the marriage did not survive long, for the couple was devastated by their inability to conceive children and separated.
Don Arthur de Silva left the Richmond Castle and all his grand possessions to destitute children who needed a shelter, and lived the remainder of his life in a room at the Queen’s Hotel in Kandy. Today the castle, somewhat deteriorated, is owned by the Public Trustee and open to the public to tour its unique architecture and 100-year history.