A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
View from mission lodge
Mission Lodge Lookout is a popular hotel with 5 star rating, located at Sans Soucis road, Victoria, Mahe Island, Seychelles in the city of Victoria. Mission Lodge is an easily accessible place with an outstanding view over the beauty of Mahé’s west coast. You can reach Mission Lodge by road close to the highest point. Mission Lodge is a superb lookout with spectacular views of central Mahé and the west coast, and some low-slung stone ruins slowly returning to the forest. The Mission Lodge is surrounded by interesting rain forest. It is located just below the summit of Sans Soucis.
UNESCO world heritage site
Mission Lodge is a UNESCO world heritage site since 2013. Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated this lodge in 1972 and had tea at the viewing platform. It is only a 6-kilometer drive from the city center of Victoria, Seychelles’ capital. It is an historic site located within Morne Seychellois National Park.
Mission Lodge History
After being abandoned by the previous Russian operator, the Lodge was taken over by the Department of Tourism, through the Seychelles Heritage Foundation. Port Glaud waterfall was also abandoned by the same Russian investor but this site is not easily accessible.
There have been many instances where visitors were robbed and even mugged and cars broken into, resulting in negative publicity for the entire destination. Visitors and travel operators complain of lack of security in the hotel.
Mission Lodge ruins
You can see some of the ruins between the small parking area and the path to the amazing viewpoint. The mission ruins are the ruins of the Industrial school established in 1875 by the Church Missionary Society for the children of liberated slaves. It was called Venn’s town after Henry Venn (1796-1873). He was an Anglican evangelist who worked for the Church Missionary Society which was founded in 1799 and which established orphan asylums at Pamplemousses in Mauritius and at Freetown in Sierra Leone.
African Slave Trade
During the eighteenth century thousands of African slaves crossed the Atlantic ocean in chains to become the foundation of the New World economy. Hundreds of them ended up in Seychelles to work as labourers on cotton and coffee plantations. In 1814 Britain took possession of the Seychelles. In 1807 British parliament adopted the Bill of abolition of slave trade, which was applicable to the whole of the British empire. But the lucrative slave trade continued in Seychelles until the Emancipation act of 1833.
However, along the East African coast, the slave trade continued unabated. Slaves were brought from the interiors of Africa – most of them were obtained for a few yards of calico cloth! The slaves were taken to the Western side of Lake Nyasa in Malawi and then shipped to Kilwa on the coast of Tanzania where they were taken to the slave market in Zanzibar and sold for around £100 to £120 each to Arab and Persian dealers. Determined to put an end to this illicit and despicable slave trade, British Navy Ships scoured the waters of the Indian Ocean and intercepted Arab dhows and confiscated their cargoes of slaves and brought them to Mahé in Seychelles. On the 14th May of 1861 the first shipment of 252 liberated slaves arrived in Seychelles on HMS Lyra commanded by Capt. Old-field. Continuation of this activity resulted in the arrival of a total of 2,816 liberated African slaves between 1861 and 1874 to the shores of Mahé.
Slaves in Seychelles
Now Seychelles had to do something to settle these slaves down in Seychelles. Church Missionary Society undertook the task of settling these slaves. In May 1875 the civil commissioner of Seychelles Charles Spencer Salmon (1832-1896) agreed to lease 50 acres of land at Capucin Sans Soucis to the Church Missionary Society. But this needed the approval of the governor of Mauritius, Arthur Purves Phayre (1812-1885) who travelled to Seychelles to draw up the conditions under which he would authorize the assignment of the land. His conditions inter alia stipulated that an annual rent would have to be paid for over a period of ten years and that no child over 16 years of age should be retained against his/her will.
The Industrial Institution at Venn’s Town
The Industrial Institution at Venn’s Town was officially opened on 20th March of 1876 and was under the supervision of Rev. William Barlett Chancellor, the Swahili-speaking acting civil chaplain. By the end of 1877 there were 55 children, 35 boys and 20 girls living in the settlement. The school teachers were Mr Robert Pickwood who was a former police officer in Victoria and Mr Henry Morris Warry (1858-1927). The main buildings consisted of a large and spacious Mission cottage which was a bungalow with a verandah, two dormitories of 100ft by 25ft, one for the boys and one for the girls, a few outhouses, kitchens, washrooms and a dozen huts for the labourers who were engaged to clear the land. The buildings were constructed of timber and covered with screw pine leaves. Water was obtained from the nearby river by means of bamboo pipes and stored in basins of limestone coral.
In 1885 Warry and his wife left and were succeeded by Mr Edwin Lucock and his wife Martha who took charge of the Institution until 1889. Some boys and girls ran away because of harsh punishment given occasionally. The children woke up early for prayers and breakfast after which they attended lessons which consisted mainly of bible stories and psalm-singing. In the afternoon, they engaged in woodwork and tended the coffee, cocoa and vanilla plantations, the revenue from which went to the upkeep of the mission settlement.
A cemetery further away accommodated the little bodies of those who tragically succumbed to the then incurable infirmities of health such as diphtheria or appendicitis. Edwin and Martha Lucock’s two years old son Sidney died in April 1888 and was buried there.
During its seventeen years of its existence many visitors to Seychelles trudged up the mountain path to the Industrial school at Venn’s Town to discover how the African children were getting along. One of such visitors was the Victorian Lady, painter and globetrotter Marianne North (1830 – 1890). She made many paintings of Venn’s Town, forty-three of her paintings are now in the Natural History Museum in Victoria.
The mission at Venn’s Town closed in 1894, because by then, more schools were being built on Mahé which accommodated the African children, and the slave dealers had ceased their ignoble transactions. Seventy-seven years later, on March 20th 1972 when Queen Elizabeth II came to Seychelles for the inauguration of our International airport, she was driven up here to visit these melancholy ruins and to open the Mission Viewing Lodge which treats the visitors to a breathtaking Panorama of the east coast below.