Herondale Estate Bungalow - Author's Note

There is a tea estate in the hills of Ceylon that might well have been Lantana. It had waterfalls and pools, and streams where the dragonflies dance. There are jungles, still haunted, they say, by wild boar and leopard; and patna over which the hawk eagles hover almost motionless. And finally, there is half an acre of coffee left from the old days.

If you follow the winding cart road up the hill, past the boundary of the estate, you come at last on a great desolation. As far as the eye can see rolling grasslands unfold 3,000 feet above sea level: and in the midst stands the ruin of solitary stone chimney.

I was told by an old tea maker that this was the site of a great coffee estate of the past; and I learned later of the long, slow penetration of the blight, Hemileia vastatrix, which appearing suddenly in 1869, year took its toll of one coffee district after another, until by the 1880s, coffee in Ceylon was utterly routed.

I began to understand the fortitude and courage of the old planters from whose who had been told of it by their father; I even heard of the hardships of those days from the lips of every remaining coffee planters themselves. Through every book I could lay hands on, through old newspapers, letters and records, I began to re-live the life of those pioneers to whom Ceylon owes so much. But the greater part perhaps I understood from living on that tea estate, the Lantana of the book; for it was once my home.

This extract is taken from the book "Bitter Berry" written by Christine Wilson the daughter of Dr. R. L. Spittel. The book is available with the caretaker. If any one should care to read the book, please inquire from the caretaker and handle with care.