History & Culture

History lessons about Madras High Court

The Madras High Court complex, said to house the largest number of courts in Asia, looms large at the junction of Broadway (Prakasam Salai) and First Line Beach (Rajaji Salai). Its red brick buildings, colonnaded halls and shaded avenues were raised at the turn of the 19th Century when the Presidency towns of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were issued patents by Queen Victoria to establish High Courts. Apart from resounding to landmark judgements, the Madras High Court’s Saracenic buildings have survived a shelling by a German ship during the First World War, still house the city’s old lighthouse and have their own Postal Index Number.

Construction began in 1888 under JW Brassington and the buildings were completed in 1892 when famed architect, Henry Irwin was at the helm. Irwin’s works that include many well-known colonial-era buildings, such as the Government Museum, Chennai, Amba Vilas Palace, Mysore and the former Viceregal Lodge, Shimla, have long fascinated his great grandson, Mark Tatchell, a retired research scientist from the UK. Tatchell will present a talk on Irwin, hosted by the Department of Museums, Government of Tamil Nadu, and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Chennai Chapter.

Later, over the weekend, NL Rajah, senior advocate and author of a book on the history of the High Court, and Sujatha Shankar, convenor INTACH, Chennai, will conduct a heritage walk around the Madras High Court. Tatchell will join the walk as a special guest. “INTACH hosts regular walks that explore the city in a bid to keep alive our heritage,” says Sujatha. The walks are usually held on the second Sunday of every month, but “we timed this one around Tatchell’s visit”.

History lessons about Madras High Court

The talk by Tatchell will be held at 4.30 pm on January 31 at the Centenary Exhibition Hall, Government Museum Chennai, Egmore. Entry is free. For details, call 24991696.

The two-hour walk at the Madras High Court by Rajah and Sujatha will commence at 7 am on February 3 and include a tour of the grounds and the buildings. Photographs are permitted only inside the museum. The walk is open to all, but prior registration is necessary. Those interested may mail their names, as it appears on an identity card to nlrajah.advocate@gmail.com by January 31. Participants must carry identity cards for security check.

Entrance to the High Court is through Prakasam Salai only (opposite Rajah Annamalai Mandram). The assembly point is outside the Madras High Court Museum.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 11:02:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/history-lessons-about-madras-high-court/article26120968.ece

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