Sunday, September 15, 2013
That one turret reminds you this was once called a castle. James Brodie, an employee of the East India Company, was given a grant of 11 acres along the northern bank of the Adyar river. A quick - and not very authoritative - check of Brodie genealogy takes you back to 1262, starting with a MacBeth, Thane of Dykec. James probably thought of re-creating the legends of his clan and so named his house Brodie Castle.
But he invested it more with the tragedy of MacBeth than the grandeur he intended. James Brodie stayed in the castle for a very short time. There was some misunderstanding with the Company over his private trading activities and he fell on hard times. The Castle was let out to the Company administrators. A boating accident (or was it suicide?) in 1801-2 took Brodie's life. Soon after, the house was bought by the Arbuthnots, who let it out to other prominent citizens of Madras.
The ill-luck stuck on. 1810 - Rev. Edward Vaughan moved in and lost his wife; 1866 - James McIvor of the Bank of Madras lost his family in a boating accident on the Adyar; 1906 - the Arbuthnots had to sell Brodie Castle after they went bankrupt. 1943 - the river rose into the house and soaked Sir Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. In 1952, Kumaraswami Raja, who was occupying Brodie Castle, suffered a shock electoral defeat in his pocket borough of Srivilliputhur.
Since 1956, the property has been in the hands of the government, as the Government College of Music, Chennai. Even though it has been renamed Thendral, the earlier name is retained in the eastern-most stretch of RK Mutt Road!