Towards the east of Lucknow, an extraordinary chateau-like building has become almost a symbol of the city – La Martinière remains to this day an exclusive boys’ school in the finest colonial tradition. It was built as a country retreat by Major-General Claude Martin, a French soldier-adventurer taken prisoner by the British in Puducherry. The enigmatic Martin later joined the East India Company, made his fortune in indigo, and served both the British and the nawabs of Avadh. The building is an outrageous but intriguing amalgam, crowned by flying walkways; Greco-Roman figures on the parapets give it a busy silhouette, gigantic heraldic lions gaze across the grounds, and a large bronze cannon graces the front. Martin himself is buried in the basement. During the uprising, La Martinière was occupied by insurgent forces, its boys having been evacuated to the Residency.

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