The Residency

May 11, 2015

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Sounds foreboding doesn’t it. Say it out loud… the Residency. Sounds like a horror film name or something.

Actually this was a major centre for the British Raj in India.

The Residency was a place where the women and children would live whilst the men worked for the British East India Company. There was a hospital.

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These all have fallen into a little bit of disrepair! A banqueting hall.

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And many, many more buildings that were dotted around the site. It was pretty heavily fortified as well with a watch tower and a main gate as the entrance from the road.

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You may be wondering what all those holes are in the watch tower. Well, this is where the Residency gains the historical interest. In 1857, many of the Indian men that fought for the British Army in India mutinied against them. Along with some followers for the Nawab of Oudh after the area had been annexed and the Nawab exiled to Calcutta. This is regarded in India as the first war for independence.

They led a full attack against their oppressors and only failed because of an incoordination with each other. However they managed to lay siege to the residency for an extended period of time, around 85 days, and forced the British to evacuate after which it was abandoned.  The holes in the watch tower are from the cannonballs and improvised missiles that the Indians pounded the tower with.

Here is a particularly big one on the main entrance gate.

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It is so incredible that you can still see it.

The British were extremely outnumbered and the only reason they weren’t defeated is, as I said before, there was no coordination between the individual attackers. The British also managed to get two relief parties into the buildings before they managed to evacuate. There is evidence of these bullet holes all over the site.

An incredible historical site, the ruined passageways evoke the imagination.

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I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the people living inside the building during the siege.

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 A lot can be said about the British in India; oppression and dictatorial tactics amongst stripping of wealth and resources from the country. However it is something like this site that evokes a kind of fascination about the people who made up that British presence. How did they live and cope with the gap between the British and the Indians? Separated in their complex behind big, fortified walls. Were they surprised when they were laid siege to? It must have been terrifying for them.

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The commander of the company of British men, Sir Henry Lawrence, died of fatal injuries sustained in the fighting in the hospital on site.

Curiously, there is a mosque on the grounds.

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I’m not quite sure of the history of this, I think it existed before the British built the Residency but it was heavily involved in the fighting.

Some interesting examples of things can still be seen, such as how they had water supplied to all parts of the Residency using dug out canals which were reinforced by bricks.

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A fascinating place.