Legacy of the British Raj

Legacy of the British Raj

The building houses the office of the Chief Post Master General of Karnataka Circle and is located on Palace road, opposite Maharani’s College.

The structure and its name evokes a lot of interest, not just for its architecture but also for its name and original owner.

The name Beaulieu is derived from the Latin Bellius Locus, meaning ‘beautiful place.’ It has its origins in the farm house called Beaulieu abbey built in England in 1204 AD on the land donated by King John.

It was built for Cistercian monks whose order originated in France. It was set on a vast plot with gardens and well-kept lawns and walkways overlooking a river called Beaulieu. There are a few other places called by the same name in England: Beaulieu village, mill, and estate.

Lancelot Ricketts was the original owner of Beaulieu. Ricketts was, in fact, born and brought up in Bangalore and was baptised in the City on September 20, 1832. He built the building at the centre of vast grounds abutting the Cubbon Park, and named it Beaulieu, perhaps in memory of his native farm house of England. The Beaulieu estate of Bangalore was built across 24 acres originally.

Ricketts occupied important posts in the Mysore commission from 1860 to 1900. His association with Mysore was so deep that he learnt Kannada and mastered it. He was appointed the first editor of the Mysore Gazette founded in 1866. It was published in Kannada as Mysore Rajapathra.

Ricketts worked hard to conduct official business in Kannada. The credit for the same, though, goes to Lewin Bentham Bowring, then commissioner, but the devotion with which Ricketts worked to improve the quality of the Gazette cannot be ignored. He was appointed the Registrar General of Assurances for both the Mysore and Coorg state in the year 1868.

Love for horticulture

In 1874, Pears, commissioner of Nandidurg division, reports, “Experiments on paddy by Ricketts in his garden are successful. He laid trial plots of potato and cotton in his garden.” It shows that Ricketts had turned his estate in to an agricultural experimental plot.

During his stay in Bangalore, he was deeply involved in the activities of Lalbagh. More than two times he held charge of Lalbagh, first as its Director from September 17, 1880 to November 11, 1881, and then as its curator for three months starting January 29, 1887.

In 1888, Ricketts was made chairman of the Agricultural Trade Fair Committee and successfully conducted the Trade Fair at Mysore. Ricketts was also the first Inspector General of Police of Mysore State when he was appointed in the newly created post on November 1, 1885. He was also appointed Director of Agriculture and Statistics in 1887.

In 1889, the government appointed him Inspector General of Forests and Plantations. During his tenure, he directed the head of the Garden Department to standardise cultivation of vegetable crops, particularly the potato. He even conducted experiments on the vast stretch of land around his house. His estate of 24 acres, 12 guntas was an apt space for trials on cotton and potato.

He had a flock of sheep on his farm. Cameron, who was the Superintendent of Government Gardens, in his annual report of 1890 recorded thus, “Mr Ricketts retained his lease of the Cubbon Park for sheep grazing...Mr Ricketts has conducted experimental cultivation of sea island cotton in his farm, which was very satisfactory and the valuation of the cotton produced there is of higher value.” These documents show how meticulous  Ricketts was in his work.

His experimental work on potato yielded good results. A particular variety is called ‘Ricketts’ in his honour. This variety is still popular in areas where potato is cultivated in the State. Ricketts retired in 1900 and owned the said estate till then.

A document preserved in the State Archives indicates that Cameron, Superintendent of Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, was directed by the government to bring up the sketch of the stretch of land near PWD stores and Government press as claimed by Ricketts.

These documents indicate that the Beaulieu, having “possessed a bungalow, farm sheds, sheep sheds and fields measuring 24 acres” was purchased by the Mysore government.