article # 82



by Malcolm Stander
(click on photos to enlarge image)


Since the early 19th century silver trowels were used in ceremonial occasions to lay a foundation stone.
Usually they were engraved with an inscription commemorating the event.
In this article a collection of seven silver trowels is illustrated together with historical information about Sri Lanka and its interesting background of the English, Americans, Missionaries, etc, all adding up to some thought provoking history of this country.

Trowel 1: Silver blade and wooden handle
inscription on blade:
Sri Lanka Bauddha Samitiya-Moratuwa
The foundation stone for the boys english school laid by
His Excellency The Governor
Sir Herbert J Stanley K.C.M.G
blade of trowel 13cm
wooden handle 9cm (two 2 toned wooden handle spiraled with silver detail)

The only bit of history I have found on Sir Herbert J Stanley is:
born 1872-died 1955
British protectorate Zambia: 1 April 1924-25 July 1927
His next posting must have been to Sri Lanka as this is where this trowel came from (those days Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon).
Some history on this school as extracted from articles off internet is as follows:
In the year 1924, Sri Lanka Bauddha Samathiya Ltd, was founded by Mr M.J.C.Fernando as the chairman with the objective of establishing a Buddhist school to uplift Buddhist education in the locality of Moratuwa.
The governor Sir Herbert J. Stanley laid the foundation stone for the college on 24th June 1929.
At the beginning 67 students were enrolled and Mr A.Ediriweera functioned as the first principal of the college

Trowel 2: silver blade and wooden handle
inscription on trowel blade:
Sir H.J.Stanley K.C.M.G
7 th December 1927
Mcleod Hospital Inuvil

blade 13.5cm
wooden handle 11cm

History as extracted off internet article:
1898 Mcleod Hospital,Inuvil established as a hospital for women and children through the effort of two Missionary Sisters Mary and Margaret Leeitch.
Dr Isabella Curr from Scotland the first Medical Superintendant of the hospital
Inuvil is about 4 miles from Jaffna Town along the Kankesanthurai road. It was once famous for its farms, musicians and of course the Mcleod Hospital.
Nowadays it limps along like many a once bustling village in Jafna 

Trowel 3: silver blade with wooden handle
inscription on trowel blade:
Presented to
His excellency
Sir Herbert J.Stanley K.C.M.G
Governor of Ceylon
S.Thomas College
Mount Lavinia
ceremonial trowel  S.Thomas College Mount Lavinia
blade 9.5cm
handle 8cm looks like ebonised wood

History :
College founded in 1850'
S.Thomas College, Mount Lavinia is an Anglican Church School which was founded by the first Bishop of Colombo, the Rt.Rev.James Chapman, D.d.
It was his foremost vision to build a college and cathedral for the new Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon. In 1951 it became a private fee levying school and is today one of the foremost educational institutions in Sri Lanka
When the buildings of the old college were dismantled, the stone which stood over the door of the library in the old school was preserved, and brought to Mount Lavinia. On Thursday, June 27th, 1929 this stone was unveiled, and the foundation stone of the new dormitory block was laid by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Herbert Stanley. The original is let into the wall on the right side of the main entrance, and the new stone is outside, under the window to the east of the main entrance.

Trowel 4: silver blade with wooden handle
inscription on trowel blade:
Green Memorial Hospital
20th July 1928
inscription on wooden handle
V.R.Thamby Rajah
blade 8.5 cm
wooden handle 8cm (contractors name V.R.Thamby Rajah inscribed on handle)

The Green Memorial Hospital is located in Manipay,Jaffna,Sri Lanka
In 1848 Dr Samule Green founded Manipay hospital, which was later renamed Green memorial Hospital. This mission hospital was the first medical school in Sri Lanka and was a flourishing state of the art medical insitution for more than a century. Its main objective to provide medical service to the surrounding communities.
The buildings are now in serious disrepair and ther are five main buildings which needs immediate attentio.
Due to the near civil war situation in Sri Lanka the hospital was not able to function properly. There was a lack of Doctors, nurses and other professionals to run the hospital. As a result the hospital had wound up most of its operations and ground to a virtual standstill. The hospital has also suffered some collateral damage due to the war. It is now functioning on a limited capacity.
Th UNHCR has taken some parts of the buildings for their work, but they have preferred to work in more remote areas of Sri Lanka and had not made any progress in repairing the Manipay Hospita. They had put up some bunkers and used the hospital building for storage purposes only.

Trowel 5: silver blade with Ivory handle
inscription on blade:
The Trowel
with which the foundation stone
was laid by
His Excellency The Governor
Sir Herbert J. Stanley
For the extension of the
Bambarabotuwa School
I have no history on this school. All I know is that it is a forested area where research is done on agriculture and wild plants

Trowel 6: silver blade and beautifully painted wooden handle
inscription on blade;
Namo Buddhaya
Sadachara Bauddha Kulangana Society
Namo Buddhaya is a peace prayer that is known as the essence of all mantras in the practice of the Buddha path
Buddhist people - extract from link
A persevering Buddhist monk, Ven. Attadassi Thera guided and encouraged the few leading Buddhist women to take up the challenge and work hard towards achieving the most difficult target of setting up an English school for the Buddhist girls in Kandy during that difficult time when Christian missions enjoyed all the favours and successes

Trowel 7: silver bladed with wooden handle from South Africa
afrikaans inscription( similar to dutch) on top of silver blade:
2 sept 1966
inscription on bottom of silver blade:
Geskenk aan
Ds P.D.Luckhoff
deur> D.Theron argitek
blade length 17.5cm
wooden handle 9.5cm
this is the only hallmarked trowel with a leopard's head in a shield and what looks like an acorn in a shield and intials STQ

1966 was in the height of the apartheid era
Translation: corner stone foundation laying at the N.G.Church hall in Carletonville presented to the reverend P.D.Luckhoff by the architect D.Theron
P.D.Luckhoff is of German descent and was from the descendents of the first missionaries sent to South Africa to work in the district of stellenbosch in the 1830's.
Paul Daniel born 16.6.1914 N.G.Church student married Rachel Maria Mare born 3.9.1921
In 1939 -qualified priest - became priest at Bloemhof, then Bulawayo in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) Kestell, Taaiboschspruit, Carletonville and Hanover
He received his emiritus on 12.3.1978

The title oF Sir Herbert J Stanley:
The Title of K.C.M.G stands for Knight Commander - look at link for further info:

If anyone has any more info on Sir Herbert J Stanley please contact ASCAS. He looks like led an interesting life

All info extracted off the Internet except for the South African trowel which was extracted from the history of the Luckhoff family, obtained by an engineering friend of mine who is by chance related to the Luckhoff family.
Malcolm Stander
- 2007 -