Please click on the story you wish to read

Windamere Heritage Hotel     still under construction

Steinthal Tea Estate 

First Commercial Tea Gardens in Darjeeling

 Darjeeling Planting - Then and Now  

 A potted history of the families

  Bees in the Mission Field



Windamere Heritage Hotel – History

It is "One of the three Jewels of the Raj", said a celebrated travel writer of The Windamere Hotel. Established in the 19th century as a cozy boarding house for bachelor English and Scottish tea planters, it was converted into a hotel just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Well known to sophisticated travellers the world over, the Windamere is famous for its unique ambience and charm, and has been the subject of many leading stories in the international media.

During the first National Awards Ceremony for outstanding hotels in India, the Prime Minister presented Windamere Hotel with a coveted award for its excellence as a Heritage Hotel of India.

Windamere is the original "Heritage House of the Himalayas". It is situated on Observatory Hill, a Darjeeling landmark, believed to be the focus and repository of life-enhancing cosmic energies

Ada Villa at the Windamere


Ada Villa

Ada Villa appeals to guests who like tradition, who would be comfortable in a bygone age, and who want a reminder of how people got on with their lives in old Darjeeling. For this reason, there are no TVs and telephones in Ada Villa as guests who choose to live here prefer to avoid the distractions of modern life for the duration of their stay.


TinkerBelle's Cottage at the Windamere

Generations of newly-wedded couples have enjoyed the quiet ease afforded by TinkerBelle's Cottage (also known as Honeymoon Cottage). The cottage is set apart from the rest of the hotel, on a sunny little spur that rises just above Windamere's Ada Villa. Couples return to the cottage for anniversaries, to snuggle before the fire in the evenings, only to remember and to dream of days long ago.

 Christmas Week at Windamere", which runs from 18th December to 1st January every year, has been celebrated at the hotel, in the same way, without interruption, since 1939. It has been a tradition for well known entertainers from London's famous West End Theatre District, to entertain at Windamere during Christmas week. In recent years, the words and music of headline entertainers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and France have also enthralled Windamere audiences".The outstanding millennium Christmas of 1999 drew guests from 15 countries, including Brazil, Britain, the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa, Thailand, Japan and China.

 to the Letter Windamere - 1941
click on the letter to read.

Our Memories & Souvenirs


Mr. Henry Carpenter’s boots

World-traveller, philanthropist, naturopath, ardent Buddhist, and student of the paranormal, Henry Carpenter hailed from New Jersey in America. He was a great friend, and admirer, of Sardar Bahadur Laden La, the leading Buddhist of Darjeeling, and took a kindly interest in his children. Mrs. Mary P.L. Tenduf La, Mr. Laden La's daughter, the erstwhile owner of Windamere Hotel, would fondly recall in later years, that Mr. Carpenter had wanted to take her to America to develop her psychic powers. Mr. Carpenter left Darjeeling for America in 1930, leaving his boots behind in Mrs. Tenduf La's keeping, until his return the following year. He never came back. For the next seventy-four years, until her own death, Mrs. Tenduf La's maids, under her direction, cared for Mr. Carpenter's boots: aired in good weather, placed by the fire in wet, polished to a high gloss in all seasons. Dear, Mr. Henry Carpenter. Gone. Never forgotten!




Burra Babu's typewriter.
Retired, 1949

A Gift from then President of
Aeronautical Radio of Thailand                               "            Sir's" Calling Bell






   The Iron Dukeof the Windamere




The lamp that lit the dormitory at Loreto Convent, Darjeeling,
when Vivien Leigh
("Gone With The Wind")
was a pupil.







Letter Letter written by Private Joseph Sturgess to his young daughter, while he was stationed in India during World War I. He came from Portchester Hampshire England and called his house “Darjeeling” on returning home .  xxxx


the Raj

The Raj, or the era of British rule in India, has been endlessly remembered in books and film, through the years. Unlike other defunct imperial regimes which have been consigned to the dustbins of history, the Raj continues to stir the romantic imagination, its excesses largely forgotten and forgiven. The "bright spot", as early British visitors called Dorje-ling, used to be a possession of Sikkim. It was developed as a hill station by the  Raj and, on the way, the Sikkimese name of Dorje-ling was anglicised to Darjeeling.


Establishing the hill station proved to be a task much more difficult than anyone supposed. This was because there was no market, and no organized place from where food and the other necessities of life could be procured. The creation of the Darjeeling marketplace was therefore central to the development of Darjeeling. European visitors to the Darjeeling Sunday market during the days of the Raj, would be fascinated by the variety of people to be found there – Lepchas, Nepalese, Tibetans, Sherpas, Bhutanese, and Sikkimese, with a sprinkling of plainsmen – all, people of the Far Horizons of yore! The Market Square, which once served on weekdays as an occasional parade ground for proud British regiments like the Black Watch, is now maintained year round as a bazaar. Still, we may conjure up the ghosts of the past, and espy a detachment  of the North Bengal Mounted Rifles, trotting out at noon with glinting swords, to escort the Earl of Lytton and his entourage into the Market Square. There, the grandees of the town wait to accord his lordship, the Governor of Bengal and Acting Viceroy of India, a civic reception. Thus, through the years, in pomp and circumstance, Bengal governors, viceroys of India, and Royalty were put on display at the Market Square, as the enduring symbols of imperial authority.


As the health and holiday resort of the Raj in the days when Calcutta was the "second city of
the British Empire
", Darjeeling had a permanent European population. There were
missionaries of every description including high Anglicans, Methodists, Unitarians, Roman
Catholics, and Baptists. Surprisingly, there was also a Finnish Mission, presumably to provide
spiritual solace to those who had failed to find it elsewhere. Most astonishing, Darjeeling had
a rabbi in the 1930s and 40s. His father had been a rabbi, so he came by his vocation naturally.
A decent man of sporting instincts, a pale skin and sympathetic brown eyes, with wavy black
hair crowning a sharp handsome visage, he was not exactly overstrained by religious observance,
and rented himself out as a jockey during the racing season in Darjeeling. He cut a small and
dashing figure at Lebong, the site of the world's "highest and crookedest" race course, as
unkind punters were wont to call the Darjeeling races. Ah! Memories.

The Darjeeling races expired with a whimper as the Raj died with a bang! It went down memory
lane with tea dances and roller skating at the Gymkhana Club; garden parties at Government
House; luncheons at the Pavilion during Edinburgh Shield cricket matches; and Love's Old
Sweet Song in Daisie's Music Room.  British, Irish, American and Belgian educators ran
excellent English language schools which still exist today. Schools like Mt. Hermon, North
Point, St. Paul's, Victoria, Goethals, Dow Hill, St. Helens, and the Loreto Convent, built either
in the 19th century or at the beginning of the 20th century, were among the elite institutions
of the British Empire.Darjeeling was at the centre of Indo-Tibetan commercial relations,
between Calcutta and Lhasa, when trade flourished between the two countries. Europeans
were steeped in commerce of all kinds in Darjeeling: there were British tea planters;
haberdashers and tailors; department store managers; business agents, dealers and
distributors; beauticians and book retailers. To these we may add Czech shoe makers,
Austrian and Italian confectioners, French auto engineers and American dentists. Their
health and welfare were not neglected: There were British physicians and surgeons with
important letters like FRCS and FRCOG behind their 8names; there were British
undertakers, and British nurses from the Royal colleges of nursing; and there were
venerable firms of solicitors and accountants, managed by people with names like
George Wrangham Hardy, and Peregrine Turnbull. Lending weight to this European
presence was the District Commissioner, a member of the august Indian Civil Service,
military and police officers, judges and magistrates.




it was taken around 1925 at the Market Square in Darjeeling.

Officials of the Indian Railways had been viewing with mounting alarm the increasing popularity of the motor-car since the War (1914-1918) and decided to promote vigorously travel by rail. Darjeeling - although in a remote part of the Indian Empire - was selected as a holiday destination as it was well-connected by rail. A European photographer was despatched to Darjeeling under instructions to capture adventure scenes. Using a rotating camera, he photographed leading members of the Tibetan and Bhutia communities, with their well-wishers and attendants, on their way to extend
Losar (Tibetan New Year) greetings to British officials.

Sardar Bahadur Laden La, Mrs Tenduf La's Father, is at the Centre of the picture, astride his
famous horse Gya-Tso (“Hundred Oceans”), winner of thirteen Governors' Cups. This much loved
and respected horse was given to Mr. Laden La by the 13th Dalai Lama as a personal
expression  of high regard. At Mr. Laden La's right hand mounted on Kongbu, is his elder
son Wangchuk  Dorje; at his left side, on Lhazang, is the Head Lama of the Ghoom Monastery.

Copies of this photograph hung in all the principal railway stations of India for many years


Darjeeling was also the springboard for high altitude Himalayan ascents when Tibet and Sikkim
were the gateways to the great Himalayan peaks of Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga. The
European expeditions would gather in Darjeeling to provision, and to recruit sherpa guides
and porters, before commencing their long journeys to base camp. It was from Darjeeling
that the ill fated British Everest expedition of 1924 departed , and to which G. L. Mallory
and A.C. Irvine never returned. They sleep well on the north face of Mt. Everest

 From times immemorial, some mountains have been the objects of awe and veneration.
The majestic Himalayan peaks, in particular, have been symbols of power, purity and
unattainable bliss. When thunderbolts strike the mountain tops, and thunder drums and
rolls into the distant horizon, we come to understand why the ancients believed that the
Himalayas are the store house of cosmic energy, and where the gods reside. A
retreating storm leaves behind a limpid Himalayan sky, and an ion charged atmosphere.
People are amazingly energized, their spirits soar, and they sense their untapped potential.

Pilgrims have been making their way up the slopes of the Himalayas for over two
thousand years, to be closer to the Divine. These were quiet journeys, far removed
from the noise and concerns of everyday life, to permit introspection and contemplation.
Out of such pilgrimages came self-knowledge, inner peace and joy. On a summer’s day,
around 1750, Lama Dorji Rinzing, together with a handful of acolytes, left west Sikkim
on a spiritual quest. They passed through the sweltering Teesta valley, stopped to
camp the night by the cool shallows of the blue Rangeet River, and began their ascent
next morning through beautiful virgin forests of rhododendron, magnolia and oak.
They rested the second night on a mist shrouded slope, continuing their journey early
next day. After some hours, they began walking along a ridge that presented a
magnificent panorama of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the sacred mountain of Sikkim,
and a dozen other snow covered peaks stretching across the entire northern horizon.

Rising up from the ridge was a hill that, a century later, came to be called
Observatory Hill”. As the lama and his party climbed, they felt strangely uplifted and
invigorated. A powerful energy appeared to radiate from the hill. This place, they
then knew with absolute conviction, was blessed, and their pilgrims’ journey had
come to an end. Upon this hill, they built a monastery.
Today, Observatory Hill is a place for both Buddhist and Hindu worship.


Origin of the Name

Darjeeling, the name of the famous hill-station.... is commonly said to be a corruption of Dorjé-ling, "the place of the thunderbolt", the name of a monastery which once stood on a well-known eminence in the modern town, now known as Observatory Hill. In the interests of historical accuracy I should, perhaps, add that I believe the commonly accepted explanation to be incorrect. A derivation seldom heard, but which I have the best of grounds for believing to be correct, is that which attributes the word Dorjé in the first half of Darjeeling to the name of a lama, Dorjé-rinzing, who founded the monastery which once stood on Observatory Hill. The Shrine was subsequently removed to the Bhutia Basti, where it remains to this day; but the former site retained the name of "the place of Dorjé lama."


Well-being at the Windamere



The Snuggery appeals to people who need to remain in touch with modern life, even while they indulge their love of the past and old things. The residential houses in this wing, Annandale House, and Observatory House, are provided with TVs and telephones. The bathrooms have fittings which were once the property of the Loreto Convent Girls School. These were donated to Windamere Hotel when the Convent closed down its boarding school after 130 memorable years. The Convent is the oldest European school in Darjeeling District, having been founded in 1846. It counts among its many famous former pupils, Vivien Leigh, the actress of "Gone With The Wind" fame.







The Royal Society for Asian Affairs

Patron HRH the Duke of York, CVO
2 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PJ, England
Telephone 020-7235 5122      Fax 020-7259 6771      Email info@rsaa.org.uk


The Society was founded in 1901 to promote greater knowledge and understanding of Central Asia and the surrounding countries. It assimilated the Persia Society in 1929. With the passage of time, the area has since been extended to include the whole of Asia, from the Near and Middle East to the 'Pacific Rim'. The Society is an active and friendly organisation, which provides those interested in Asia with many ways of expanding these interests in a congenial framework. In pursuit of these aims, the Council of the society seeks to provide a balanced programme of activities which, though by no means neglecting the past, gives opportunities for keeping up to date with developments and for discussion on a wide variety of topics of common interest to Asia and the West.

The society’s activities may be summarised as follows.




lloyd Botanic Garden in Darjeeling

It seems in the character of Britons to create botanical gardens wherever they happily settle. And so they created the Lloyd Botanical Garden in Darjeeling, which offers a protected habitat for many species of Himalayan trees and plants. The Garden is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for the main conservatory which is closed on Sundays. A popular tourist attraction of more recent origin is the Rock Garden which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Darjeeling Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

The world renowned Darjeeling Himalayan Mountaineering Institute had Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Mt. Everest fame, as its first field director. His nephew, Nawang Gombu, the first man to climb Mt. Everest twice, continues in the footsteps of his illustrious uncle as field director. The institute offers training in mountain climbing, and maintains a fascinating museum of memorabilia of famous mountaineers and expeditions of the past. It is open to the public each day of the week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except on Thursday.


Darjeeling Himalayan Zoological Park

Adjacent to the Mountaineering Institute, on Birch Hill, is the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, which has attracted world attention by successfully breeding endangered species like the snow leopard and red panda. The Zoo houses several other rare Himalayan animals.


Darjeeling Tea Gardens

Darjeeling tea, famously known as the champagne of teas, is generally regarded as the World's best tea, fetching the highest prices at auction. The Darjeeling tea gardens are beautifully located, and the bungalows of the managers pretty without exception. The tea gardens are worth visiting, to observe the way tea is manufactured. Tea estate managers, "the planters" as they are called, are known for their hospitality.


The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (The DHR), known to generations of local school children as "The Toy Train", is the world's most famous, two feet gauge railway. It is a masterpiece of 19th century engineering, a product of the world's first industrial revolution. To the serious rail enthusiast, who makes it his business to visit as many interesting railway sites as he can, the DHR is the "Holy Grail" of narrow gauge railways.  Such a man's  life  is unfulfilled until he sees, touches, and hears, the Darjeeling steam engines, and travels as many times as time permits, up and down the line. There are active DHR societies in the UK, and Australia, affiliated to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Heritage Foundation, which share the common goal of ensuring the preservation of the railway in perpetuity. Fans across the globe rejoiced, when, in 1999, UNESCO declared the DHR a World Heritage Site, thereby according it recognition as a master work of human endeavour, of no less importance than such heritage icons as the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Angkor Wat, and the Eiffel Tower.


Monasteries Around Darjeeling

There are well over a dozen Buddhist monasteries in Darjeeling. The best known is the Yiga Choeling Monastery, or the Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling's oldest, founded in 1850. Other monasteries worth visiting are the Dali Monastery, and the Bhutia Busti Monastery. A few miles from Darjeeling, at Sonada, is the Samdrub Dharjay Choeling Monastery, which was founded by the saintly Kalu Rimpoche, and where a number of western language scholars have been toiling for many years to make Tibetan Holy Scriptures accessible to westerners.


Batasia Loop

Five kilometers from Darjeeling and three kilometers from Ghoom, toy train winds its way over this brilliant piece of engineering delight. It is a pleasant and delightful descent from Ghoom - the highest railway station in the world.


Two kilometers from Darjeeling is the town of Ghoom which is the highest railway station in the world. It also has a monastery and is definitely worth a visit to all those visiting Darjeeling.


Senchal Lake

A beautiful lake amidst the verdant mountains. It is a favourite picnic spot for many coming to visit Darjeeling. It is about 10 kms from the town. The lake provides water supply to the entire Darjeeling town.


Tiger Hill

A visit to the Tiger Hill before dawn is a must for all Darjeeling visitors who want to see sunrise over the Mt Kanchenjungha. Tiger Hill is 2590 m above sea level and 15 kms from town (45 min). Tiger Hill is the highest point in the area which provides the most exotic view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. From this place the other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas can be seen. On a clear day the sight of Mt. Everest is just enthralling.

The Mall & Chowrasta

The Mall road originates and culminates at the Chowrasta, the hub of Darjeeling town, a square on the ridge of Darjeeling town and a good place to sit and relax. It is ideal for a leisurely walk around a setting that is perfect. A walk around the Mall at just any time of the day is pleasant with the view of the mountains at the back drop, valleys with rhododendron trees and old houses.









inibar, and you could be anywhere from Khartoum to Kowloon.
Where's the history? Where's the magic? Where, frankly, is the romance?

Read the story

Step forward the colonial hotel. One hundred years after the abolition of slavery, Empire may not have left a lot to be proud of, but the hotels scattered in its wake are a start. How about staying where the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese in 1941? Or in a hotel still boasting TE Lawrence's unpaid bar bill? A tea-planters' boarding house in Darjeeling? A hotel that inspired Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile? Now, there's romance...



A 19th-century boarding house for bachelor Brit tea planters in Darjeeling, the Windamere is an unashamed slice of starched Victoriana. Chambermaids slip hot-water bottles into your bed as you sip G&Ts in the piano bar; lampshades in the "new" wing – formerly Loreto Convent – predate Vivien Leigh's time here as a girl; while fellow guests inevitably include sun-dried chief constables stationed here before the war. Best, though, is the view from the gardens as you take tiffin: tea plantations below, with 28,169ft Kangchenjunga – third-highest mountain on earth – above.

Details: Windamere (00 91 354 225 4041, www.windamerehotel.com) has doubles from £106, full-board. Contact TransIndus (020 8566 2729, www.transindus.com ) for packages.


Windamere Palms - Trachycarpus latisectus

As early as 1840, Darjeeling attracted the attention of European botanists for the variety of its plant life. One may suppose that, after all this time, there were no Darjeeling plants to be identified, categorized, and to be given root elsewhere. It therefore, comes as a surprise to read the following account in the Journal of the International Palm Society "It was Henry Noltie of the Royal Botanic garden, Edinburgh who first alerted us to the existence of a strange Trachycarpus in Darjeeling, India. He had been in the area during the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Sikkim Expedition in 1992 and had noticed a pair of these trees in the garden of the famous Windamere Hotel. He took photographs and collected specimens, but our later examination of these at Kew provided no clue as to the identity of this palm, other than that it appeared indeed to be a species of Trachycarpus".As visitors to Darjeeling and Sikkim discover, the hills and valleys provide a feast for the eyes with not only varieties of palms, buta profusion of flowering plants and shrubs, many species of trees, many kinds of orchid and rhododendron, and cascading waterfalls and rushing mountain streams. The Darjeeling hills remain a gardener's delight



Keventer's Darjeeling

however, the highlight of the seating in the upper floor is at the lovely open terrace. You get
great views all around and can even watch the activities down below on the busy streets.
There are several round tables and wrought iron chairs that are laid out in the terrace. The
tables have marble tops. They also put up giant umbrellas here during the winter or if its
drizzling. With dark green low walls, red stoned floor, Victorian lamps on the pillars along
the wall and unabated views, it's a wonderful experience to spend some time here as you
have your breakfast. 


Keventer's Darjeeling, Terrace 


So what kind of food do you get here? Keventer's has been traditionally known for its famous
full English breakfast. However you do get varieties of sandwiches, burgers and various other
meat and snack items here. Here are some of the highlights from the two page laminated
menu card: 


Chicken specialties for breakfast & snacks 

Meat loaf & eggs (this is my favorite here and comes with triangular soft chicken pieces with fried eggs), sausages, salami, chicken cutlet, meat balls, lollipops etc. 



Pork specialties for breakfast & snacks 

Chinese and cocktail sausages fried, Frank Furter fried, salami fried, bacon & eggs, meat balls, ham salami & eggs fried etc. 



Sandwiches & Burgers 

With chicken, pork and cheese fillings, salami toasted sandwiches, hot dogs, meat loaf sandwiches, ham and bacon burgers.


There are vegetarian preparations as well including cheese sandwiches & burgers,
baked beans on toast etc.  


During breakfast, you will also get toast, butter and eggs made to order. For beverages, there
are a number of choices including Darjeeling tea which is served on a pot with brownish
ceramic cups, coffee in a pot (hot or cold), chocolate shakes, hot chocolate, hot or cold milk.
Try out the unique rose shake. You will of course get standard cold drinks & colas, ice mineral water, sodas, juices etc. 


Ground Floor Take Away Section, Keventer's  


TIP: The portions in Keventer's are quite large. If you are taking a full English breakfast, you will
possibly need to skip your lunch. I do not personally like the sausages here. They are fried, quite
oily and taste a little bland. But they too come in good quantities. The meat loaf is really nice. 
I never miss out on a breakfast at the Keventer's whenever I visit Darjeeling. Since decades I
had been seeing two waiters Mann Bahadur and Dawa Lama who are serving here. They are
now my good friends. Maan Bahadur is working in the Keventer's for over 50 years and Dawa
for over 30 years. Their wonderful smiling faces are ideal to start a perfect vacation day. 


 Ghum Monastery or Ghoom Monastery is the popular name of Yiga Choeling Monastery
located at Ghum at an elevation of 8,000 feet, 8 km from Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal,
India.The monastery follows the Gelug  school of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a 15-feet high
statue of "Maitreya Buddha" (Coming Buddha) in the monastery. It contains images of Buddha’s disciples, Chenrezi and Chongapa.It was built in 1875 by Lama Sherab Gyatso and is the largest
of the three monasteries in Ghum.Amongst the Buddhist texts available are the Kangyur, the
Tibetan Buddhist canon, running into 108 volumes. The monks fly prayer flags in the Tibetan tradition.Amongst he Buddhist texts available are the Kangyur, the Tibetan Buddhist canon,
running into 108 volumes. The monks fly prayer flags in the Tibetan tradition.


 Beautiful picture






Tibetan refugee centre








 Sept 1 2012  

James Sinclair did a Google search for Steinthal Tea Estate. It was not the most well-known of Darjeeling tea gardens, but in recent years there is more about it. It was adjacent to Happy Valley Tea Estate, and when the garden was lost in the 1930s, it sort of merged with Happy Valley and the tea was processed in the Happy Valley factory. All that was left of Steinthal when I visited in 1981 were the two houses - Peace Valley and Rose Bank, both in rather a derelict condition. I think the factory, below the houses and which appears in the photograph of my Dad with the tea coolies, was dismantled. I'm attaching pictures of the two houses that I took in 1981. The garden was situated just below the Lloyd Botanical Gardens, and was probably the nearest tea garden to Darjeeling town.

Peace Valley

 Rose Bank


AUGUST 31 2012

 Searching more information about Steinthal Estates, I stumpled upon DarjeelingNews.net, and their history of the region's tea:


And I quote:

The first commercial tea gardens were Tukvar, Steinthal and Aloobari tea estates. This was in 1852 and all these plantations used seeds that were raised in the government nurseries. By 1856 the experimental stage had been passed and development was rapid. According to Darjeeling Gazetteer, Alubari Tea Garden was opened by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company and another on the Lebong spur by the Darjeeling Land Mortgage Bank. Several hundred ha of forest land was cleared, from 750 m elevation above the sea to 1800 m. By 1857 25 or 30 ha was planted , besides six nurseries, in which a ton of seed has been sown during 1857.
So the Steinthal tea estate is one of the first three that were established in Darjeeling, and some of their tea trees date back to that period.  

July 27 2012

   We are grateful to Mrs Joan Scott for giving us this story of the beginnings

   of Tea in Darjeeling

  Then we have the Potted history of the Stolke & Wernicke Family

 --written by James Sinclair whom we thank sincerely

By coincidence Mionoo Avari had sent in a copy of old photos which included
 a photograph of James Sinclair's Father (Tracey Sinclair) with his tea-coolies.
It was taken at Steinthal (literally meaning "Stone Valley" in German), Joachim
Stolke (my g-g-grandfather's) original tea garden.
James is happy for it to be shown " Yes, by all means add it to the Stolke Story
if you think it will help"

    the Stolke & Wernicke Family were the ones who started tea in the Darjeeling area

and now we have much more detail of the lives and work at that time


       Darjeeling Planting - Then and Now


                     Lt Col L. Hannigan ED. FRHS


 July 31 2012






The home of the Stölkes and Wernickes was in Prussia in the Brandenburg province where they lived for generation after generation - The Stölkes at Gloven and the Wernickes at Klein Wulkow, both families being farmers. There is still a road which passes the old Stölke farm, named after them - "Stolkenstrasse."  The earliest Stölke that appears on the family tree is Menning [?] Stölke,1696.  Both families were closely associated and there were three Stolke/Wernicke intermarriages - Joachim Stölke to Dorothea Sophia Wernicke (1836), Johann Andreas Wernicke to Sophie Elizabeth Stölke (1838) and Johann Christian Stölke to Dorothea Wernicke (1824).

Around about 1838 an English Baptist missionary, Mr. Start (formerly an Anglican clergyman) came back to England from India, where he already owned properties, in order to recruit Moravian missionaries to preach the Gospel to the natives in India.  Through contacts, he recruited, amongst others, members of the Stölke and Wernicke family, namely:-

•a)     Joachim Stölke and his wife Dorothea Sophia (Wernicke);

•b)     his friend and wife's brother, Johann Andreas Wernicke;

•c)     and his sister Sophie Elizabeth Stölke. 

However, they were not willing to allow Sophie to go out to India whilst she was still unmarried, so they persuaded her to marry her brother's friend, Johann Andreas Wernicke which she did, at Hull, England, on 22nd July 1838 en-route to India.

The next day the troupe of missionaries, headed by Mr. Start, boarded a sailing vessel named the "Blorange," at Liverpool and sailed for India via the Cape of Good Hope.  The voyage took them nearly 5 months until they reached Calcutta in about December 1838.  From Calcutta the group made their way up the Ganges river in three boats to Patna, which took about a month.  They then moved on to Hazipore where Mr. Start had a large house, and stayed there a while, studying the Indian language in order to preach.  However, because of cash constraints by Mr. Start, they had to do all the household work, and soon many of them fell ill due to dysentery and physical exhaustion; some of the group died and some transferred to other missions.  Sophie and her husband went to Bankipore where her first son, Joachim Andreas, was born but on their way back to Patna, the baby died.

In November [1839] Sophie, her husband and two other Brethren were sent to Chapra where they all lived in a small, uncomfortable house, but later Mr. Start bought a government school with a teacher's house where they could worship and live.  Here Sophie's second son, [James Andrew], was born in 1841.  Soon after, they received orders to proceed to Darjeeling in the Himalays.  They travelled in a small boat as far as Caragola, where they were looked after by friends of Mr. Start.  From there they travelled for 14 days in bullock carts.  Sophie's brother Joachim Stölke and his wife also accompanied them on this journey.  Their travels took them past Purnea and through Kishanganj to Punkhabari.  After that it was a long, hard climb through the Himalayan foothills - the men by foot and the womenfolk by "dandy," till Darjeeling, at 8,600 feet was reached after a few days, on 11th December 1841.

Initially, the group were stationed at Tukvar, about 6 miles from Darjeeling town, but nothing had been prepared for their arrival, and they had to live in a simple Lepcha hut and do all the necessary housework themselves.  There were wild animals to contend with - leopards, bears and wolves, and whilst the monkeys plundered the fields of maize by day, the wolf packs killed the cattle by night.

The plight of these early missionaries grew worse day by day, and eventually in 1843, Mr. Start withdrew his financial support completely, so that they were left without any means of livelihood in a completely alien environment. Pleas to Mr. Start for even a little land at Tukvar to grow a few crops fell on deaf ears, and conversely, he ordered them to leave his land, so the small group moved further up the hillside and survived trading potatoes and other fruit and vegetables which they grew themselves.  One of them became a baker, another slaughtered pigs, smoked hams and sausages etc., and Sophie prepared butter and cheese.  These products were sold to the European settlers in Darjeeling.  There was little or no time for preaching the Gospel to the local inhabitants, and only one convert was made amongst the Nepalese.

So disillusioned were these early German Moravian missionaries with their church that they turned in their need to the clergyman of the English (Anglican) church in Darjeeling.  This minister advised them to sell the little houses they had built on the land they occupied, move up to Darjeeling and start brick kilns and lumber yards which they did.  There was a demand for these as the population in Darjeeling was growing owing to its healthy climate, and houses needed to be built. 

In 1861, 19 years since the Wernickes and Stölkes had established themselves in Darjeeling, Joachim Andreas Wernicke died.  For the past ten of these years he had been plagued with rheumatism, gout and ulcers around his hips and foot, and unable to do any work.  Sophie was left a widow with 8 children.  She had by that time opened a small shop where she sold garments, provisions and almost anything else the European community living in Darjeeling needed.  By the rent she received from some of her houses, she was able to send her children to school in Darjeeling or Calcutta, and as they grew up she had them instructed in the cultivation of tea.  This proved to be a wise decision as her children and grandchildren continued in tea into the 1930s owning several gardens, namely: Tumsong, Lingia, Marybong, Pandam, Bannockburn and Glenburn. Sophie eventually died at the ripe old age of 95 in 1913.

Meanwhile, at a property shown on an old Darjeeling map of 1862 described as "Mr. Stölke's house," Sophie's brother Joachim Stölke had already started experimenting in tea growing, and was probably one of the earliest pioneer in tea in that area of India.  His first tea garden was to become Steinthal tea estate and this was later followed up by another tea garden, Rishihaut, a few miles from the town.  Joachim and his wife Dorothea (the sister of Joachim Andreas Wernicke) had a family of 3 daughters and 2 sons.  One of their daughters, Mary Elizabeth was betrothed to William Sinclair[1] a Revenue Surveyor.  Unfortunately Mary died on 19th October 1863, so William then married her sister Dorothea Elizabeth (Bessie) in 1865.  He was 27 years of age and she only 15.  The other sister, Maria Sophie Stölke, married a Joseph Vaughn in 1861.  Of the two sons, John Stölke never married and died in 1911.  William Joachim (better known as Willie Stölke) lived at Rishihaut with his common-law Lepcha wife and large family.  He died just a few months before his brother John in 1911. Their father, Joachim died in 1876 and their mother in 1879.  In 1877 William Sinclair is shown as the Proprietor of Rishihaut Tea Estate.

After the death of the two Stölke brothers, the only living sibling was their sister Dorothea, both Rishihaut and Steinthal must have passed over to her (though the children of Maria Sophie Stölke and her husband Joseph Vaughn made claim on both their deceased uncles' estates to the tune of several hundred thousands of rupees).  Be that as it may, apparently the two tea estates, Steinthal and Rishihaut were divided up amongst the surviving children of William Sinclair and his wife Dorothea Stölke.  These were:-

•1.     Elleanor Sinclair (b.19 Dec 1866).  Not much is known of Elleanor or when or where she died.

•2.     Norman Sinclair married Julia Fink.  Their children were Muriel, Marjorie & Janet. He and his family lived at Rishihaut tea estate and was a hearty person with a large moustache. He managed Rishihaut Tea Estate for a while.  Afterwards, he sold his share  to Aunty Daisy, and he, Aunty Bessie and the family came away to England.

•3.     Stanley Sinclair married Eleanor Haegert.  Their children were Tracey and Cicely. Grandfather Stanley  was the second surviving son of William Sinclair.  He was Scottish on his father's side and German on his mother's, and inherited a share in the tea gardens, Steinthal and Rishihaut.  He eventually sold his share in the other garden and bought Steinthal which was being put up for sale by the other family shareholders.  Steinthal was just below the Darjeeling Botanical Gardens and Rishihaut not far from Ghoom below the Sukia Pokhri Road, on the way to Tonglu.

•4.     Dora Sinclair (Aunty Daisy) married Joseph Stolke-Vaughn. They were 1st cousins, he being the son of Maria Stölke (Dorothea Stolke's sister), and their children were Geoffrey, Theo and Gwynnedd.  Of the two tea gardens, Steinthal was put up for sale and both Dora and Stanley put their bids in. Stanley's bid was successful and on hearing this, Dora came over to see Stanley about this and there followed a terrible row between her and Stanley's wife, Eleanor.  From that day, Dora had nothing to do with that side of the family again.  However, she bought out most of the other shareholders of Rishihaut, except Uncle Norman who still had his share and looked after the tea garden as Proprietor.   But when he and Aunty Bessie (Julia Fink) intended to leave India for England with their daughters, they sold their shares to Aunty Daisy.  So Dora then ended up with owning all the shares in Rishihaut.

The other children of William and Dorothea were Mabel Sinclair who married Alexandra Brown, but she committed suicide at Rishihaut on 14th October 1899, before the properties were divided up.  It's not known whether she had any children who could have been beneficiaries in the estate.  William Duncan Gordon died as an infant aged 6 months and Dudley Sinclair who died aged 5 years - fell from a tree.

By the late 1950s almost the entire Wernicke and Stölke descendants had left Darjeeling for the United Kingdom or elsewhere.  And during and after the 1st World War the Wernickes had patriotic name changes to more British sounding ones, like Wrenick, Wren, Warwick and Verniquet.  The last Wernickes were Cyril "Wrenicke" and John "Warwick" who were known by the father of a friend of mine, an 84 year old tea planter, Peter Pyke, who was manager of one of the Wernicke gardens, Tumsong, in the early 1960s. Besides the Wernicke tea gardens, the family owned some houses in Darjeeling - "Gloven" the site of Sophie Wernicke's original shop, but which was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1937, "Clover Cot" and "Willow Dale."  The old Tonga Road was also named after the family and called "Wernicke Road."  This name has, however, been changed since Indian independence in 1947.  The two Stölke tea gardens were also lost - Rishihaut was sold and Steinthal, with its two houses "Peace Valley" and "Rose Bank" had been heavily mortgaged by my grandfather, Stanley Sinclair, and as he was unable to run the garden at a profit, the tea garden was repossessed by the Marwari businessman who had lent the money, Mr. Goenka.  The only Stölkes remaining in the Darjeeling District are a few of Willie Stolke's descendants.  Father Benjamin Stölke was, perhaps, the last well-known member, living in Kalimpong where he was a Roman Catholic priest in St. Augustine's School till he died in 1979.*  All the other descendants of the Stolke/Wernicke family are scattered between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.  The old Darjeeling cemetery, where many Stölkes were buried, is in a sorry state and the "new" cemetery at Singtom is completely derelict, with tombstones removed and the local inhabitants living amongst the grave-sites.

James Sinclair

March 1999

* It has since emerged that Father Benjamin Stölke translated the Old Testament into Lepcha in 1977.  Also his father, Willie Stolke, helped by his brother John, compiled the first Lepcha to English Dictionary which is held in the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.


[1] See History of the Sinclair Family & Cawnpore Massacres of 1857

The Bees in the Mission Fields

Here is a list of the parts of this story which give a lot of background  of what was happening at that time

please click on name of part you wish to read

28th june 1841

a description of country&people

Disturbances in Darjeeling

Part of letter-Mutiny

The Mission in Darjeeling




News From India

2nd July 1840, Bro. Stölke writes from Hazipore.

Hearts are hard and unwilling to accept the Gospel.  The darkness cannot endure the light.  However the wrath of the people seems somewhat to be diminished, while we have prayed much to the Lord for a means of finding access to them.

8th August, 1841

Bro. Start is now with Bro. Sculze in Darjeeling, some 50 German miles from here at the foot of the Himalayas, the snow covered peaks of which they can see from there.  The climate, he writes, is so cold that they need fires in April.  The area is mountainous and wooded, the inhabitants have their own language and are a good-humoured peace loving mountain people.  Darjeeling itself is a place to which very many English people resort in the hot season, if they cannot endure the Indian climate or for recreation.  Bro. Start is minded to establish a mission station there himself.  Bro. Schulz is also prepared to stay there likewise and they have begun to learn the language.  This station will be intended particularly for those of us who are either unable to endure the climate or else for those who wish to maintain themselves by the work of their hands through agriculture, market-gardening or craft work.  We rejoice in these endeavours and hope the Lord will recognise them.  So it seems that your desires to pour the Gospel into the Himalayas is moving to fulfilment.  How wonderful are the ways of the Lord!

  26th June 1841, from the Brothers in East India.

Bros. Prochnow, Wernicke, Stölke and Treutler are moving to Darjeeling (German: Dordschieling) among the Lepcha peoples on the borders of Nepal under the Himalayas.  Br. Schulz is already there; a house and land has been bought.

They write more about the new Station by the Himalayas, Darjeeling.  There the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas shine towards them through the windows and because the mountain range is so close the weather is very temperate, indeed almost cold.  The layout of the Station is attractive; one house is already there and several more are to be built or bought.  A large section of clearing is already prepared for the extra construction and the forest is so airy that the site is very healthy.  For the first year certainly living will be very expensive because everything is very costly here.  But next year the Brothers will cultivate their own provisions.  As far as the inhabitants, the Lepchas, are concerned, they are very independent in character, not so amenable as the Hindus, very strong physically and suffer from very few illnesses; indeed normal illnesses are almost unknown.  They have an open countenance and are very good-humoured.  The site of the Mission is very attractive for those who like to be active and industrious, and the more you work the better you are.  Towards evening a long range of high mountains can be seen rising up, all set about with tall deciduous tree-trunks.  When the sky is clear towards midnight broad snow covered slopes can be seen stretching up into the heavens.  At midday and in the morning mountain and forest loom up.  The weather is very changeable but there is a feeling of well-being.  We are right amongst the storm clouds; they come down between the mountains, filling up the chasms between.  There are many of them but I can hear tell of no sign of fear or damage.  Bro. Schulz may well not be coming up here; it seems that he has developed an abscess in the brain, in which case his recovery is hopeless.

   Transfer to Darjeeling

Darjeeling, 20th January 1842, news from Bros. Wernicke and Stölke.

We left Patna on the 14th of November and arrived here in Tukvar, a mile from Darjeeling, on the 13th December.  This mountain range is quite enormous but extraordinarily fruitful.  Darjeeling is some 7 - 8000 ft. high, Tukvar 2000 ft. lower, entirely enclosed by mountains.  We live in a house of mats and bamboo; walls, roof, doors, windows, floors, all of bamboo.

On the journey we endured many dangers and not a few bouts of sickness.  But on the way we encountered a friendly reception from Christians, who showed us much loving kindness beyond all expectation.  In the end the route went forward over enormous mountain ranges, where wild elephants and rapacious animals have their dens.  Here we were no longer able to travel by conveyance but must go on foot and we had to have the wives with their infants on their laps brought up on portable chairs.  We wish to engage in agriculture here but first of all we have to remove trees and tree-trunks and burn everything to prepare for cultivation.  But the most that can be done is with cattle by making milk and butter and for this we have already procured a number of cows from which we believe we can obtain ample nourishment here.

Three years ago the English bought the land from the King of the Ziebers [??], a nomadic people who never spend long in one place but after a year or two move off again.  There are four or five tribes, the Lepchas and Batigá and others, whom we do not yet know.  Their language is different again from Hindustani as this is from German.  The Lepchas seem to be a good people.  They are all somewhat fair skinned and men and women are very strong.  They have a kind of reverence for God and have no idols or castes.  They all eat meat and are not afraid to eat with us.  The English people are glad to see us settle down here and cultivate the land, to see the local people warm to us and accept the Gospel.  So we ask you to pray for us, that the Lord may lay His blessing upon us here.  Some of us understand a little Hindustani, which helps us to get by a little at the start and can already begin to speak a little bit with them.  The natives live away off in the forests, but they are not shy and fearful like the Hindus.  We never see the sun rise here before 8 o'clock and by 5 o'clock in the evening it is already behind the mountains, although it shines for another two hours.  We have already made a variety of sowings; beans, peas, cabbage, lettuce etc.  We cannot always see Darjeeling, which is set 2000 ft. higher, because of the clouds between.  There is no snow or ice here, only sometimes hoarfrost.  But we always see snow on the highest mountains, always, summer and winter, covered with eternal snow, some 60 to 80 miles distant from us and 27,000 ft. high.  The soil is so rich that all manner of cereals can be grown but otherwise everywhere is forest and so thick that you can hardly creep through it.

Our food is usually rice and dahl (a kind of lentil) and meat.  Bread is very expensive and unpleasant.  But things will be better in a year's time when we can at last prepare everything ourselves.  The locals come to us every day and watch us working.  They are communicative but totally independent.  They have a more European than Bengali character.  Land is cheap; for 150 guilders you can buy 20 acres.  You can let the cattle graze anywhere in the forest.


  A Description Of The Country And The People
From Brother Schulz

6th August 1842, from the Schulz Mission in Darjeeling by the Himalayas.

The best and most joyous news that I know you wish for is about the Grace and Power of Jesus among believers and yet about this I can write to you little or nothing.  But the Lord has shown me a model of humility and readiness to serve, which touches the heart, in Stölke's friend, Mr. Williams, over whom he exercised so blessed an influence during his illness before January, that he was entirely won over for Jesus.  He was one of the highest government officials hereabouts and during the voyage from England to East India had become acquainted and then friendly with Stölke.  The year before he had come here to Darjeeling with a liver condition and invited Stölke, who was also ill at the time, in to see him.  In the end he had shown himself to be quite prepared to give up everything in love and obedience to Jesus, honour, position and superior life-style, comfort, income and livelihood and a wider circle of friends.  Though he was ill himself, every day in the last period of my sickness he would bandage up a very painful wound of mine so that it might give me as little hurt as possible.  In this remote region he produced for Dannenberg at great expense whatever he thought might be serviceable for my recovery and for Stölke's health.  This he continued to do as long as he was here, and after leaving for Calcutta he continued providing the Mission Station at Tukvar from a distance whatever he thought was necessary for their continued provision.  After Stolke's departure from here at the end of January (?) he joined in with that same small group of English soldiers and conducted with them a period of instruction, and by the many good deeds, which he had performed for the bodies and souls of other folk here, he left behind him an honourable memorial to Christ.

As far as I can, I will now write to you something about the country here and its inhabitants.  The mountains round here are only thinly inhabited.  Here and there on the sides of the mountains smaller patches of cereal can be seen with a few lightly built houses.  Usually these houses remain standing for not more than 3 - 4 years, and that is long enough for these hill dwellers as they do not stay longer in any one place.  After 3 years they seek out another patch of the mountain and hack down the forest.  They do this towards the end of the dry period in the months of January, February and March.  The tree trunks lie where they have fallen.  As it never rains and the sun shines strongly so everything becomes quite dry and withered up.  Shortly before the start of the rainy period at the end of March, beginning of April, they set alight to the whole of the fellings.  After the great fire whatever remains of the thicker trunks is heaped together and burnt.  There is certainly no shortage of wood.  The stumps remain in the earth.  Then when the rains come and all the quantity of ash and the soil is sodden, they sow the area.  It rains almost daily very heavily in the following months till September and at the same time the weather is not cold.  The soil, which is thus so well fertilised with ash. Allows Turkish wheat [?], rice and other cereals to push up to the height of a man.  At harvest time all the straw is left standing in the fields and in the following year just before the rainy season is burnt again and sowings made on top.  This happens for years one and two; after that they think it better to hew down another patch of the forest, which will bear a richer yield.  They do not have any barns, instead deep round pits in the ground.  These are floored and lined with huge broad leaves and all the grain is poured in after it has been sifted and dried in the sun.  In this way it remains safe from the rats, of which there are many.  If necessary further pits are dug.  The grain and all the fruit in the pits are well preserved as it hardly rains at all or very little from the end of October to the beginning of March.  Fruit and vines are not to be found except for a kind of apple, though I must say a sour one, like a crab.  Peaches are already in blossom at the beginning of February at the warmer Tukvar, lying as it does 1½ thousand feet lower.  In addition there are nuts, lilac (or elder?), oranges, some kinds of wild figs and berries, but all somewhat sour, - and a kind of wild grape.

In the nearer district around here there live various tribes.  The one among which we live and whose language we are trying to learn, call themselves "Rong" but by the other tribes they are called Lepchas.  The "Rong" folk have the nicest disposition.  By their dwellings they usually keep goats, hens and pigs but seldom cattle.  They are very cheerful, neither warlike nor thieving.  They very seldom quarrel or argue with one another.  They are shy and modest like children.  Many of them are certainly degenerate, those who have been around a bit more and have seen the bad example of the people who have come up from the plains.  From their youth upwards they have developed great strength in portering for there are no draught animals or beast of burden.  They must carry everything themselves, timber for building, grain, firewood.  They are very skilled in weaving baskets, hats, rain shields, canopies, winnowing fans and all kinds of containers from the different types of bamboo that are around here.  The women spin wool with spindles.  Their usual dress is a long broad jacket of untreated wool, sometimes red or blue, and round the body above the hips is fastened a piece of material, which reaches down over the knee with the men and down to the feet with the women.  If it is very warm and there is work to do, then the men go almost naked, just with a wrap around the hips.  Throughout the year all go barefoot and mostly without headgear.  They wear their hair long, and sometimes the head of the family weaves it into a pigtail, and then sometimes also cuts it off.  The ladies in particular make much use of silver and metal earrings and bracelets, necklaces and braid.  The colour of their skin is like the colour of old peoples faces in Europe.  From youth up the men always wear at their sides a wooden sheath with a very powerful knife of varying length up to 24 inches, which they use as a hatchet in the forest and they know how to accomplish all manner of tasks with it very skilfully.  Also they often have with them a bow of some 3½ yards in length, and clay balls in a pouch and arrows in a kind of quiver, and they are good at hitting birds, which they eat.


   News From Letters

May 1843, Bro. Stölke writes from Tukvar near Darjeeling.

This is a healthy district and we are all well.  We are now able to earn so much that we no longer require support.  But it is very difficult to work among these people for they have so many languages.  In these mountains there live Lepchas, Parbusia, Butiga, Limba, Bengalis, Chinese and Hindus.  They also differ in their facial appearance so that you can immediately tell from which race a person comes.  Each people also has its own religion.  Some pray to trees, others to stones, animals, sun, moon and so on.  They know nothing of the Living God and engage in witchcraft, especially the Lepchas.  We sowed three bushels of wheat and barley and had high hopes, but on the 15th of April on a quiet Sunday a storm arose with hailstones as big as eggs and destroyed everything, crops and garden produce.  We greet the loving chastisement of the Lord for He helps us in other ways.  We are so alone here but the word of the Lord - "I am with you always" - is our comfort and animates our hearts.

1st January, 1844

Till recently Bros. Stölke, Wernicke and Treutler were in Tukvar near Darjeeling, where Miss Niebel is.  Now however they have bought from the government a piece of land between Darjeeling and Tukvar for themselves, because Mr. Start has kept Tukvar for himself.  They think it will be easy to make ends meet there and to continue to support the Mission with subside, the lie of the land being so favourable.  As Simla and Kotegar are situated at the western end of the Himalayas so Darjeeling lies at the eastern end.  (Himalaya or Himalek - "Snowy mountains" from the Nepalese, "Him" for snow, "Lek" a mountain).  The Brothers are all in good health there.

2nd February, 1844

In Darjeeling Bro. Niebel is in contact with Mr. Start and the Bros. Stölke, Wernicke and Treutler have managed to cultivate and provide their own food.


   Mr Start Has Withdrawn His Supporting Hand From Us

15th September, 1844, Bros. Stölke and Wernicke write from Mount Grace (?) near Darjeeling.

Praise be to God, we must admit from the bottom of our hearts that we are not worthy to receive both within and without His faithfulness and goodness.  Only one thing is missing, namely that we are too far separated from our Brethren in the Plains in India and we three here stand so much alone.  Mr. Start has withdrawn his support from us and left us to our own devices.  We had to buy everything off him and pay interest of 6% on 2000 rupees.  Then we had to buy a new plot of land from the company (East India Company) an hour and a half from Darjeeling and pay tax on it after 4 years.  That is the reason why we have to work so hard and yet not as hard as we might have wished so as to be able to devote ourselves to the services of the Gospel among the heathen.  But we hope that things will improve as we get better known among the people and the natives now gather together in particular places in the English quarters.  Also we have opportunities enough every day to speak with them as the road brings them past our doors.  In this way we continually come into contact with them and can speak to them about the salvation, which is in Jesus, as we can with the people that we have with us as messengers and workers.  Our site, which we called Mount Grace, is very healthy and not as cold as up in Darjeeling and not as warm as down at Tukvar so that the doctor in Darjeeling sends us those who are sick and they soon recover.  These people also participate in our morning and evening worship.  The first to come to us was a captain with his family, who was very enthusiastic.  For 7 months now Bro. Wernicke has a little girl of 12 years old under instruction and soon we will baptise her.  Our house is 50 ft long and 20 ft wide.  With 4 rooms it is so big that we can easily take in such families.  The soil is good and richly rewards our labours, so that we have already paid off 500 Rps. to Mr. Start. 

   Mount Grace Abandoned

26th May, 1847, Bro. Stölke from Darjeeling in the Himalayas.

In October we gave up Mount Grace before January, because we were too far away, and we have chosen a spot nearer to Darjeeling, where we have more opportunity to proclaim the Word of God and to spread the Scriptures, because there every day we are much more surrounded by all classes of the people.  There is now too more enquiry for God's Word.  The translation of Matthew's Gospel into the language of the Lepchas is now also ready.  This we give out and inform those who can read, the Chokas, Lepchas and Nepalese.  Certainly the people who collect here are bad and degenerate, but the Lord can make even the most degenerate sinner blessed.  Moreover you do not see so many obvious idolaters and idlers.  Most of them are trying to earn their bread by working.  Wernicke, Treutler and I are all quite fit, thank the Lord, and we can make do without support, so that we have been able to transfer the 300 Rs., which you sent us, to the Brethren in R (Ranchi?), who have more need of it.  In order to gain refreshment and strength, every Wednesday at 10 o'clock in the morning we meet with Bro. St. (Stölke? - Start? - Stolzenburg? - Stulpnagel? - Schulz?) and Niebel in Bro. St's chapel for prayer, praise and Bible study, which serves to instruct us and cheer us up.  Think of us at this time of day so that our common prayer may come before the Lord.  There are also Catholics here and a convent of nuns, where children are taught.  It looks as if Darjeeling is going to get very much bigger.  Every year a lot of extra building takes place and it is much visited by the Indian sick.

   Disturbances In Darjeeling
Brother Stölke Reports On Uproar, Assaults & Atrocities

15th December, 1849, Bro. Stölke writes from Darjeeling.

Just as he was about to set up a school suddenly disturbances have arisen.  It happened that an English magistrate and others travelled to the King of Sikkim, on whose land and territory they dwell, as they must do every year.  But the king has taken them prisoner, thrown them into jail and grossly maltreated them; indeed it was first reported that they had been murdered by the natives.  The entire Lepcha people were in uproar and threatened to attack Darjeeling, to murder, set alight and burn.  Everyone took refuge and left their houses empty.  In reply the army, black and white soldiers, were mustered, gun positions were established and the attack was awaited - but it never came.  Envoys were sent to the king to say, that if he did not free the prisoners and return them, words would be replaced by the sword.  So he let them go and sent them back.  But what will happen further with him, we do not know, but still many troops are assembling.  At first the Brethren too fled but soon returned back to their houses.  The army commander reassured them and promised them that they would be given an immediate warning, if there was any danger.  You can imagine their feelings in a country surrounded on all sides by hostile natives, on the West Nepal, to the North Sikkim, in the East Bhutaan, and only one way to the Plains lying open.  These peoples all lie deep in a deathly slumber.  Tibet and China are closed and no man dares enter.  Yet from all these peoples some come to Darjeeling and so it may be that one or other of them will take the Word back with them to their own country.

1854 - A school ........

The Lord's work has been renewed in Darjeeling.  The Bros. Wernicke and Stölke have built a fine school house, which will serve as a church every Sunday.  From the first of May a school for heathen boys has been started.  Bro. Wernicke has several Christians from Bettiah (?) in his employment, and three unbelievers, an old Hindu and two young Nepalese, who wish to become Christians, are being prepared for baptism.

1856 ..... And a translation of the Bible

From the missionary expeditions of 1840 - 42 as from the earlier ones some of the Brethren, including Stölke, Wernicke and Treutler, have been transferred to Darjeeling in the Himalayas and there they have set up a large school, where young heathens are being educated.  Ferdinand Niebel is translating the Bible into the Lepcha language.  Others have joined up with different communities like the Rev. Prochnow who works with Steller and Harker in Kotegar (?) near Simla in the Himalayas.

   Parts Of Letters - Bro. Stölke To A Friend

30th May, 1858 - Darjeeling - (The Mutiny)

As far as we are concerned we must thank the Lord that we are all still alive, despite the fact that we have had to pass through much anxiety, need and trials of all kinds.  This was so especially last year when the Lord's vessel of wrath was poured out over India and many thousands of white peoples as well as black had to give up their lives because of wickedness.  Now, however, peace seems to be rather more established but the country is still rebellious and it is definitely unsafe for Europeans to travel.  At the entrance to our hill station fortifications were set up.  Many of the rebels were caught and hanged; this year six of these murderers here have had to climb the scaffold and garnish the gallows.  The chief murderer of the lieutenant who was my neighbour has not yet been found.  Many English soldiers will still be on their way here to help this country.  Maybe when it is peaceful again and the whole uprising is over there will be hope left for us that the Word of the Lord will encounter more openness amongst those who have so far withstood Him.

Here is the mountains the work among the heathen is very difficult.  We had to shut down the school, which we had previously started, because the heathen did not want to send us their children.  Then the government began a school with an English and an Indian teacher; there was no religion at all, that is to say Christianity, they could practise their heathen religion.  Although they were at first promised 50 - 60 children, really no more than 15 or 26 turned up and so after a year and a half the English teacher was sent away and only the Indian one is still there.  The school is in our school house.  The heathen are unwilling to admit what is useful for them.  The Lord, who knows the ways of all men's hearts and is merciful unto the heathen, will one day bring forward His time for them too.  What worries us is that perhaps one day the Nepalese will sooner or later drive us away, in as much as we are right in the hands of these people, who surround us on all sides.  We can only pray for universal peace for ourselves and our land.  It seems as if the English are gaining the upper hand although with heavy loses.  Many refugees have arrived here, particularly the ladies, who have been in the hands of the raging heathen.  They can hardly find words to describe the destitution win which they found themselves.

7th June, 1860, Bro. Stölke from Darjeeling

I should have written to you a long time ago from our Himalayan mountains.  Alas, I wish I could write that Satan's defences had been overthrown here, as they have been in many other places, where our Brethren are working.  But there is no trace of awakening and I have to admit this with sorrow.  The people hear the Word often with pleasure that is spoken to them, from all classes and castes; they also take books from us but that is as far as it goes.

As far as we ourselves are concerned, I can say that we are all fit and well, praise the Lord.  My two sons are in Calcutta at St. Paul's School[1].  The eldest[2] has now been there for two years.  My wife[3] accompanied him down there and returned back safe and sound to our mountains after a journey that lasts three months.  He wants to study theology in order to prepare to be a missionary or a preacher, and may the Lord give him strength.  He has good talents and makes pleasing progress and the headmaster writes of him:- the good seed, which has been sown in him in his parental house is bearing good fruit.  My second son also went off this year.  He does not yet know what he wants to be.  The expenses of this school are extremely heavy.  Our daughters[4] are still with us.  They are all grown up, give us much pleasure and help their mother in the house.

Bro. Wernicke is still suffering from gout and cannot do anything.  His three sons are also in school in Calcutta, the youngest since February.  He has four daughters at home, the youngest being 18 months old.


  A Fragment Of The Report On The Conflict With Sikkim

............ news came from Cheebo Lama, the abbot of the monastery at Goom, who was well disposed towards the English, that counter attack was being planned.  So this then took place during the night and there were further attacks on the following days until the ammunition was almost exhausted, which compelled the suspension of firing.  Then came rumours that the people from Sikkim were planning to attack Darjeeling.  So a withdrawal was started.  All went well on the route for 6 miles until a pass was reached, which the Sikkim troops had occupied.  From high up they fired down on Campbell's contingent and rolled boulders down.  There was an unholy melee.  The company certainly returned to Darjeeling but they had lost several men.  Now the troops from Sikkim threatened the frontier.  In Darjeeling an attack was awaited.

In the meanwhile additional forces for an expedition into the mountains had been assembled in Calcutta.  Placed under the command of Major Gawler of the 73rd Regiment were two mountain howitzers, a troop of the Royal Artillery, 300 men of the 6th Regiment and 200 sepoys.  This force reached the Rangeet river on the 2nd of February, 1861.  They discovered the troops from Sikkim ready for battle on the other side of the river.  A few rounds from the howitzers enabled them to throw a bridge across the water, on which the company crossed over.  After that there was no opposition to be discovered on the side of the river belonging to Sikkim.  They reached Toomlong on the 9th March and soon after that the Rajah Chommbi appeared in Tibet, where the Sikkim court usually resides.  On the 28th of March he signed a treaty with Sir Ashley Eden, who had accompanied the armed forces as a special ambassador.  In it it was agreed that a representative of the now pacified Sikkim government should reside permanently in Darjeeling.  The Cheebo Lama was sought out for this post.  Under his leadership there were no further difficulties in the relationships with Darjeeling, which could be described as harmonious.


  The Mission In Darjeeling

As an answer to the rationalism of the 18th century and the overthrow of traditional customs by the French Revolution and the hegemony of Napoleon, the start of the 19th century brought forth a series of religious movements.  Among these must be reckoned the sudden increase in Christian missionary activity overseas.

The history of Darjeeling is inseparable from the story of the missions, which even today make a great contribution out there.  Surprisingly the life and work of a German evangelist, Johannes Gossner, belongs to the history of tea cultivation in Darjeeling.  He was born on the 14th of December, 1773, in Hausen near Waldstetten in Bavarian Swabia, the child of a Catholic farming family.  After school and further studying in Ingolstadt and Dillingen he was destined for the priesthood but then became involved in that torrent of revival, which was then sweeping over the whole Catholic Church in the south of Bavaria.  he was obliged to engage to the end in various controversies with the Jesuits of Augsburg, which finally landed him up in clerical confinement in Göppingen.  Montgelas, the broad-minded minister, enabled him to return to Münich, but after the government was overthrown, he was driven out to Prussia to a grammar school in Düsseldorf and later to St. Petersburg.  On his return from abroad Gossner converted to the Evangelical faith and until his death in 1858 remained as a pastor in Berlin.

Under the influence of Pietism he founded the Gossner Missionary Society in Berlin, which still today does much good in a quiet way for many people all over the world.  Since 1836 its principal area of operation has spread out from India to Nepal and as far as Australia and America.  Not by chance has its system a similarity with that of the Herrnhuter Brotherhood, but it has always remained in its shadow.  Gossner wrote "The Booklet of the Heart", a devotional text that has gone all round the world and left a deep impression behind, among the simple people for which it was written.  But this has also been so with the great, for example with the Tsar Alexander the First of Russia.  Gossner must have reached out to many for the company which collected around him in Berlin ranged from Field Marshall Von Schlieffen to a number of younger folk, who because of their faith were ready to give up a career as ordinary citizen and to go forth into little known and unstable areas of the world.

Our interest lies in the Mission in the then British India.  The impulse to missionary activity there was given by a foreigner with rather more Baptist convictions, the English roving missionary Start, when he was on a visit in Berlin.  On the search for suitable co-workers for the mission on the Ganges, which he had already extended from Patna, he selected twelve of Gossner's young trainees, who were bidden farewell by Gossner in the Bethlehem Church on the 1st of July, 1838.  These were all young men from the province of Brandenburg, among them being Lutz Stölke[5] [?] from Gläven (?)  [Glowen] and August Wernicke[6] from Klein-walkau (?) [Klein Wulkow] sons from the heart of Prussia who ended their days as tea planters in Darjeeling.

After a voyage of six months the Gossner Brethren arrived in Hajepur [Hazipore] on the Ganges on the 28th of January, 1839.  Their way of life was completely different to that of the other Europeans in India.  They were prominent because they did not surround themselves with a retinue of servants as was customary.  They in no way wished to be masters and that was something that was highly unusual in the eyes of the Indians.

In Hajepore Start, who was continuing to live in Patna, had taken over a house, the only one that was maintained in the European style, which had been built thirty years earlier by the English, because of the races, which had been held there.  The ballroom was transformed into a dormitory and the other twelve rooms were put at the disposal of the Brethren.  The women managed the kitchen and the men took up handicrafts.  For example Stölke took instruction from a Mohammedan baker in baking bread and Wernicke took care of the sheep and goats, which he sheered and slaughtered.  A year later reinforcements arrived in the shape of Brother Niebel and five Sisters, some of them wives following up their husbands.

Hajepur remained the base of the group.  Treutler and Stölke stayed there.  Wernicke went with his wife to Chabra.  At the height of their activity the evangelical Mission took the form of preaching in the streets and bazaars.  They regarded the Hindu religion of the Indians as battlements of Satan (and the Hindus must often have thought of the Brothers as curious characters).  No wonder that from time to time inspite of the politeness and subservience of the Indians there came to be a threatening attitude towards the foreigners.  Meanwhile the latter very soon felt how difficult it is to present Christianity and to spread the message of the Bible.  It may be supposed that the result of their truly sacrificial labours was meagre.

With the encouragement of Start a group of Gossner Brethren also went to work in the Eastern Himalayas in what was then British Sikkim.  This new Station was considered to be a model settlement which would finance itself through agriculture and handicrafts.  Good pre-conditions for all this existed because of the temperate climate of Darjeeling.  First Schulz went up to the Hills.  But he seems to have been afflicted by a brain tumour.  Anyway mortally ill left Darjeeling at the latest in 1843.  Wernicke, Stölke, Treutler and Prochnow had already followed up in 1841 and two years later Niebel.

In those days the journey from Karagola to Tukvar lasted two months.  One travelled with porters and personal tents, which had to be pitched every evening.  Punkabari lies only seven miles below Kurseong, but this stretch alone took up three days march as far as the Lepcha hut which was their first lodging on arrival.  In the mountains the missionaries were carried up on chairs, which were each fastened to two bamboo poles.

Niebel was the only one who was later to remain in contact with Start.  Together in 1845 they translated St. Matthew's Gospel into the language of the resident Lepcha peoples, and in the following year the Book of Genesis and St. John's Gospel, which were all printed by the British Bible Society.

The Gossner Brethren established themselves in the neighbourhood of the town of Darjeeling.  We know that this Station frequently served as a convalescent home for ailing Brethren from the Plains.  Missionary work among the inhabitants of the mountains certainly collapsed.  Stölke and Wernicke took up tea planting and to this we will return.  Treutler developed a trading company.  Offspring of the first two were still living in Darjeeling in 1910 and belonged to the most prosperous families there.  This is one of the few occasions for sure, that missionaries have come into wealth.  Their graves and those of their descendants in the old cemetery are in a remarkably good condition.

 [1] These would be John and William Stölke. [JSS]

[2] This would be John Stölke born about 1845.  He would have been aged 15 at the time of writing [JSS]

[3] Dorothea Sophia (Wernicke) [JSS]

[4] These would be Maria, Mary, and my great-grandmother Dorothia, who would have been aged 10 yrs. at the time.  Mary was to die the following year (16th July 1861) [JSS]

[5] This should be Joachim Stölke [JSS]

[6] This should be Andreas Wernicke [JSS]

Extracts from information sheets of the Gossner Mission 1860 - 1898

A list of missionaries sent out by Gossner (m = married/ d = died)

Departed for East India with Mr Start, 21st July 1838

12) Cand. Stolzenburg, d.

13) Friedrich Papproth, d.

14) Ludwig Brandin, m.

15) Carl Maas, d.

16) Carl Baumann.

17) Wilhelm Rebsch.

18) Stülpnagel, d.

19) Gottlob Treutler, m.

20) H. Heinig.

21) Joachim Stölke, m.

22) Andreas Wernicke, m.

23) Andreas Danneberg [Dannenberg?]


To East India 23rd May 1839

24) Cand. Sternberg.

25) Cand. Kluge, d.

26) Cand. Schorisch, d.

27) School-Candidate Ullmann.

28) Rudolph, to Guatemala and the Southern Ocean.

29) R. Krause, m.

30) Cand. Müller.


To East India the 24th of May, 1840

31) Cand. Schulz.

32) Cand. Niebel.

33) Cand. Prochnow.

Henriette Just goes for Stolzenburg,

Sophie Wernicke goes for Stölke.