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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Lucknow Residency

The Residency, or the home of the British representative stationed in princely Lucknow, was destroyed in 1857 yet has lingered on as an important monument ever since, first to the intrepidity of the British under siege and since 1947 to the determination of India's early freedom fighters.

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Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 1

The Baillie Guard Gate, built in 1814 by Resident John Baillie to enclose the 33-acre site. The first resident had come in 1775, when the capital of Oudh was shifted from Faizabad to Lucknow. The land belonged to the Nawab of Oudh, who built the buildings, owned them, and was expected to maintain them, at least until 1856, when the last nawab was deposed and the last British resident replaced by a Commissioner.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 2

"The Residency is the spot which all Englishmen will wish to visit first in Lucknow." So speaks colonial-era editions of Murray's Handbook for India. Its location may have been selected by Claude Martin, who had been, among other things, a land surveyor for the East India Company.

There are no known photos of the Residency before its destruction in 1857. Its restoration would therefore be a work of supposition. The Archaeological Survey's report for 1902/3 states in any case that restoration was not the Survey's goal: instead, its "idea has been to avoid all outward semblance of patching up a ruin."

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 3

The monument in the previous photo carries this plaque.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 4

And this one.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 5

The grandest building on the site was not the residency but the banqueting hall, which was built--also by a nawab--in the early 19th century.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 6

Another view.

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So things stand.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 8

The rear of the banqueting hall.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 9

A stucco fireplace.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 10

A marble-inlaid fountain.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 11

The residency proper.

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A plaque marks the spot where Henry Lawrence, the commander of the besieged British, died.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 13

An obelisk sits nearby.

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One face of it.

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The Residency cemetery has 2000 graves.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 16

Here, Lawrence's.

Northern India: Lucknow Residency picture 17

The famous epitaph.


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