La Martiniere College – An offbeat attraction of Lucknow

While the Bara Imambara, the Residency and Chota Imambara is there on almost every visitor’s list of attractions in Lucknow, it is time to add a few offbeat places to this list. Last week I shared my heritage walk of Kaiserbagh which I am sure you have already included to your itinerary. This week, you need to add La Martiniere College of Lucknow.

La Martiniere college - an offbeat Lucknow attraction
La Martiniere college – an offbeat Lucknow attraction

You might be wondering why would you add an educational institute. The answer lies in the fact that it was not always a school. It was actually a luxurious mansion owned by a French officer. The sprawling home is also, considered as the largest European Funerary in India. And to add some more intrigue to this place – it is the only school ever to win the Royal Battle Honors. If that has made your eyebrows vanish into your hair, then you are ready for this epic post on this offbeat Lucknow attraction!

History of La Martiniere

“What is La Martiniere? A home? A School? Or a Battle House? “ I would not be surprised if you are asking this after reading the first few paragraphs. Let me demystify this for you with its history.

The founder and owner of La Martiniere College
The founder and owner of La Martiniere College

La Martiniere was built by a French man – Major General Claude Martin. This French gentleman came to India along with the French company in Pondicherry. He fell out of service owing to a tyrannical head and joined the British East India Company. He was posted in Lucknow during the reign of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daullah of the Bara Imambara fame. He earned a lot of wealth while serving the Nawab – so much that he became the richest Frenchman in India. With his wealth, he created this palatial home called Constantia.

The Sprawling Mansion - Constantia
The Sprawling Mansion – Constantia

The Major General was the perfect eligible bachelor and he died so, leaving behind no heirs. However, he did make a Will – in which he specified the following –

  • All his properties in India (in Kolkata and Lucknow) and in Lyon (his hometown in France) were to be converted to schools for children. The schools would be named La Martiniere.
  • His body would have to be buried after it was embalmed. This grave would lie in the basement of his Lucknow home – Constantia
  • His house should also, accommodate centers for boys who were keen on learning the English language and the religion – Christianity.

Eventually, after a few contests in the court, all his properties became the La Martiniere School. In Lucknow, it was primarily the Boys school which opened in the year 1845 with John Newmarch as the first principal. Thus, the mansion became a school.

La Martiniere in its hey days
La Martiniere in its hey days

During the famous siege of 1857, the school students were drafted to the British quarters – The Residency. The students helped the British with various chores like becoming messengers, taking care of the sick and injured and even gathering food. After the siege, for sometime, the school was shifted to Benaras. The campus was restored and the school was back by 1859.

A complete residential set-up of the British East India Company in Lucknow, The Residency had everything set withing - from beautiful ball rooms to a hospital and more. Unfortunately, the Revolt of 1857 just left the walls to share its story.  Discover The Residency

10 thoughts on “La Martiniere College – An offbeat attraction of Lucknow”

  1. One of the most wonderful travelogues ever… Lamartiniere is by far one of the most beautifully conserved “live” monument of our country and its conservation can be attributed to none but the visionary, able and brilliant Principal Carlyle McFarland whose devotion, commitment and passion for details ensured a complete turn around of this masterpiece….. A must visit by anyone who loves history, heritage and culture…

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  2. Loved reading this and more so because 1. I have had my office in a building called Constantia building in KOlkata which was adjacent to La Marts Girls. In Kolkata La Marts girls and boys school are situated opposite to each other and after reading your post I realised the history of the buildings. Great One Ami

    Reply
    • Thank you Anindya. I loved discovering it myself and photographing it ….that was the best part. I must now see the Kolkata one. Would be nice to do a comparison

      Reply

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