15 June 2017

Sri Lanka: Restoration of Wolvendaal church windows

Window restoration project completed for Wolvendaal church, built in 1749 by the Dutch East India Company.

One of the restored windows of the Wolvendaal church in Colombo.

The original windows of the Wolvendaal church in Pettah, Central Colombo, fell into disrepair during the third quarter of the 19th century and were replaced by leaded stained glass windows in 1870. Almost a century and a half later, these windows with their simple abstract motief had become badly affected by the climate and the church’s proximity to the sea, and in 2011 the Wolvendaal Foundation mobilised sponsors for their restoration. The wooden frames had rotted, while the lead had become seriously corroded.

The Dutch Embassy in Colombo contributed to the restoration project, which started in March 2012. By late August of that year, twelve of the twenty windows had been restored in full. However, work on the remaining eight windows came to a standstill due to a faulty construction at the back entrance of the church. It was felt that the restoration work could not be completed without removing a concrete slab. Early this year the slab was removed, and work on the eight windows commenced in February.

The deputy Ambassador Eva van Woersem visited the church Upon completion of the restoration work, and congratulated the team, headed up by Deshamanya Vidya Jothi Ashley de Vos, skilled conservators from the Department of Archaeology and the Central Cultural Fund, both Sri Lankan government agencies.