Driving through the winding roads in Dickoya, you can easily miss the Warleigh Church. Located at a bend in the road, the Warleigh Church is an Anglican church built in 1878 by an Englishman called William Scot and overlooks the Castlereagh reservoir.
The church is reminiscent of any 18th-century church that you would find in Britain, making it an unusual sight, with the Victorian granite architecture contrasting against stunning panoramic views of the highlands.
As you walk towards the church, you pass engraved stone and marble tombstones that are perfectly preserved. If you stop to observe the dates, you get a sense of how much history the church holds. The names and dates reveal the rich history of the area, as they are the final resting place of British tea planters and their family members who passed away whilst Sri Lanka was under British rule. The cemetery has a haunting beauty, and though it’s a place of the dead, it is surrounded by blooming, vibrant flowers and plants.
Inside, you remove your shoes and step onto the cold floor, which is a flurry of floral tiles, you are greeted by an impressive ancient organ and beautiful stained glass windows. The wooden pews and pulpit add to the feeling that you have stepped back in time. Though small, the church is full of intricate details that you could miss if you don’t pause to look. One such detail is the inscriptions on the Gothic style stained glass windows, donated in memory of a lost loved one. There is also a beautiful baptismal font that is still used for baptisms today. Another detail not to be overlooked is the bible, enclosed in a glass case, which was printed in 1879.
The Warleigh Church is still a fully functional church, hosting multi-lingual services for the people of Dickoya. It is a symbol of the past but is also symbolic of Sri Lanka embracing it’s past and adapting it for the present. If you happen to be on the Dickoya road, make sure to stop by this beautiful church.