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|Address||Galle Road, Colombo 03|
|Town or city||Colombo|
|Current tenants||Prime Minister of Sri Lanka|
|Owner||Government of Sri Lanka|
The history of Temple Trees dates back to early 19th century. Its ownership passed through several prominent British administrators and traders. It was owned between 1830-1834 by John Walbeoff of the British Civil Service, who headed the Cinnamon Department of Ceylon.
Christopher Elliott M.D.the Principal Medical Officer in Ceylon bought the house in 1848.He was also the proprietor and editor of the 'Colombo Observer'. During the Matale Rebellion it was the focal point for the public campaign against the excesses of Governor Torrington.
The house was purchased by the British Government of Ceylon and became the residence of the Colonial Secretary. Since 1948 it became the residence of the Prime Minister of Ceylon and D. S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister to take up residence. Some Prime Ministers since then have preferred to stay at their private homes and only use Temple Trees for official functions. Such as S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, who was assassinated while at his private residence at Rosmead Place, and Ranil Wickramasinghe who use his private house in flower road Colombo 07.
Temple Trees has taken centre stage in many episodes of modern Sri Lankan history. During the 1962 Ceylonese coup d'état attempt by senior police and reservist military officers, Temple Trees was the prime target. The armoured cars stationed there were withdrawn to facilitate a take over by troops of the Ceylon Artillery. However the coup was thwarted by the Police CID and internal security detail of the Royal Ceylon Navy took up guard of Temple Trees. The coup leaders were later brought to Temple Trees for questioning.
It once again it became a refuge for Sirimavo Bandaranaike when she was rushed there on the night of April 4, 1971 after an assassination plot was uncovered, to be carried out at her private residence at Rosmead Place, at the outset of the 1971 JVP Insurrection. Many cabinet ministers also took refuge at Temple Trees during the early days of the insurrection. It soon became the primary command center for all military operations against the insurrection.
Since the 1970s, Temple Trees has been heavily guarded with many roads around the mansion and its grounds closed off due to the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Temple Trees has been the official residence of all United National Party Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka. After 1994 Sri Lanka Freedom Party presidents used this house as their residence and the Prime ministers of that party used Visumpaya.
List of Occupants of Temple Trees
- 1948 -1952 DS Senanayake
- 1952 -1956 Dudley Senanayake
- 1956 -1959 S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
- 1959 -1960 Wijeyananda Dahanayake
- 1960 -1960 Dudley Senanayake
- 1960 -1965 Sirimavo Bandaranaike
- 1965 -1970 Dudley Senanayake
- 1970 -1977 Sirimavo Bandaranaike
- 1977 -1978 J. R. Jayewardene
- 1978 -1989 Ranasinghe Premadasa
- 1989 -1993 Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
- 1993 -1994 Ranil Wickramasinghe
- 1994 -2001 Chandrika Kumaratunga (lived as President), PM resided at her private residence of Horagolla Walauwa
- 2001 -2004 Ranil Wickramasinghe
- 2004 -2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa (Lived as President), PM used Visumpaya
- 2015 -2018 Ranil Wickramasinghe