Antoine Joseph and his wife Ranmenika
AJ & his wife Ranmenika
 AJ & family
 AJ and his family circa 1901

The van der Poorten family

Halgolla Plantation Home is the ancestral home of the van der Poorten family. Antoine Joseph van der Poorten ("AJ") arrived in Sri Lanka from his native Belgium in the mid-19th century. He fell in love with the country and a local lady, Ranmenika, who maintained her beauty to the end of her days. He made Sri Lanka his home and had 3 daughters and 5 sons; the youngest son was Ben, Emil's father. AJ built the elegant house that has been "reinvented" and reinvigorated over the years into what is now HPH. AJ also developed the property as a unique "mixed" plantation of rubber, cocoa, fruit and spice crops. 
Halgolla in the 1930s
Halgolla in the 1930s

AJ's father was a stained glass painter in Belgium and many churches there still display his works. The stained glass in the dining room at HPH was done by him and sent to Sri Lanka to be installed in what is now HPH by his son AJ, Emil's grandfather.
Stained glass window at HPH
Stained glass window at HPH

Emil's father, Ben, inherited the property when AJ died at the ripe age of 88. Halgolla was later handed down to Emil who has continued the family's agricultural traditions.
In 2006, Emil and Arlene returned to HPH to restore it to its previous splendor after the many years of neglect during the time that Emil was away in Canada. Fortunately the stained glass window in the dining room was still intact as were the three panels with the same motif over the front door of the house. The house's unique architecture reflects a period of splendor and comfort that is rarely found now.

Your hosts, Emil & Arlene
Your hosts, Emil and Arlene, with the stained glass at the front door

AJ was in many ways ahead of his time. He had electricity early in the 20th century through a hydro system installed on the stream below the house; this property is no longer in the van der Poorten family, having been 'lost' to land reform in the 1970s. The hydro system is no longer in use but the dam that held the water for the system is still intact though abandoned by those currently owning the land surrounding it.

The van der Poorten armorial crest

The family armorial crest   
 Aj as a young man
 AJ as a young man
Stained glass by AJ van der Poorten in a church in Lokeren, Belgium
A stained glass window done by AJ in a church in Lokeren, Belgium. Photo courtesy of Shamalee van der Poorten
  Newspaper article

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Emil van der Poorten, Halgolla Plantation Home, Galagedera, Sri Lanka

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