Dilkusha In India and in Seoul

The house Dilkusha Kothi (heartís delight) near Lucknow in north-eastern India (left) was constructed around 1800  - 1805, designed by the British Major Gore Ouseley, an entrepreneur, linguist and diplomat, for the
Nawab of Oudh, Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The design is usually said to bear a startling resemblance to the style of Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, England (right). The park and house were a center of fighting during the Indian Uprising of 1857-8 but the house may have finally fallen into ruins rather later, at least by the late 1890s. The park remains until now.

Dilkusha in Seoul

First built by Bruce and Mary Taylor in 1923, the house was located on an open hillside overlooking Seoul, beside a huge, very ancient gingko tree. It received its name because Mary Linley had visited the ruins in Lucknow while she was touring India as an actress, and had resolved to give the name to her own house one day. Read Mary's long description: building the house, its interior (below left), and its rebuilding after destruction by fire.

Struck by lightning on July 26 1926, while the owners were in California, the house was seriously damaged, the entire contents of the attic, a fine collection of antiques, was lost, as was the upstairs floor.

After the 1926 fire, Bruce Taylor's brother Bill supervised the rebuilding as best he could, and the family resumed life there in the autumn of 1929. From 1927-29 the Boydell family from Australia lived in the house. The Grigsbys lived in rooms upstairs 1929-1930. Read Faith Norris's recollections of the house (she was only nine years old and her mother told her nothing about the fire, her 'memories' are mostly quite wrong). The fine garden with the old tree was especially memorable. There was a spring which the Koreans living in the neighborhood to the west of the house had always used and to which the Taylors had to grant access.

The house from the East ( above and below left, with the gingko) and from the West (below right)

Mary Taylor was detained in the house for some weeks in late 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor, then obliged to leave Korea. In the following year the house was stripped of its furnishings, which were sold by the Japanese authorities and the proceeds put into a bank account "for after the war.". When Mary returned to Seoul to bury her husband's ashes in 1948, the stripped house had been somewhat repaired; it survived the Korean War, but in the following decades Seoul changed very much and the garden (though not the gingko) disappeared. The house was inhabited by several different families although it seems that none had any legal title to it. It became increasingly run-down.
The house has now been taken over by Seoul City and after it has been restored, late in 2020 it will become a museum dedicated to the Taylors in the care of the Seoul Museum of History. The main reason for this interest is the unique role at the time of the 1919 March 1 Independence Movement claimed for A. W. Taylor by his wife in her memoir Chain of Amber.

A. W. Taylor and the March 1 Korean Independence Movement: some questions

Mary and Bruce's son, Bruce Tickell Taylor, visited Seoul and Dilusha in 2007 at age 88. Bruce was born in Severance Hospital, Seoul, the day before the Independence Uprising of March 1, 1919. His mother, Mary Linley Taylor, in her book Chain of Amber page 156 (as well as Bruce Tickell Taylor early in his memoir Dilkusha by the Ginkgo Tree) claims that her husband, visiting her in the hospital that evening, picked up the baby and discovered copies of the Declaration of Korean Independence hidden beneath it, some having been printed in the hospital cellar in preparation for the next day's uprising. She writes that he gave a copy to his brother Bill and sent him off to Japan, hiding the text in the heel of his shoe, to transmit the text to the American press (fearing censorship inside of Korea). This, they both claim, was the initial source of western knowledge about the March 1 uprising.

However, the story found in Mary's book and repeated by her family is not very accurate. Certainly, Taylor was acting a correspondent for Associated Press, mainly because of international interest in the funeral of Emperor Gojong. He was also aware of growing demands for independence among the Koreans and he was possibly (but not certainly) the author of the first articles about the March 1st Declaration published in North America on March 13. However, the text quoted in those articles is not that of the 'official ' declaration drafted by Choi Nam-seon, signed in a Seoul restaurant, and read in Pagoda Park on March 1, but a different text, composed and disseminated by a group called The Korean National Independence Union. It seems unclear why there are 2 or even 3 different Declarations issued simultaneously, (an earlier 3rd text was released in Tokyo on February 8) and also various suggestions of how they were disseminated, but the story of either text being hidden beneath a new-born baby seems unlikely. The Independence Union's Manifesto was first smuggled to Shanghai where it was telegraphed on March 9 to Ahn Chang-ho, president of the Korean Association of North America, in San Francisco. It is quite possible that from there it was sent out to the North American press. The translated text of the 'official' March 1 Declaration of Independence was carried to the United State
by the newspaper owner V. S. McClatchy hidden in his money belt (he had been on the streets of Seoul on March 1) and published there later in March. There is no indication of who might have translated it.

On page 157-8 of Chain of Amber, Mary goes on to claim that on March 1 (she is not clear about the chronology), the 'next morning' after discovering the hidden Declaration(?), her husband told her that 'yesterday' he had gone 'to Suwon and Chunju,' first alone and then with the British and American Consuls and had taken photographs of the Japanese setting fire 'to whole villages,' and that they had locked Christians in a church then shot them through the windows, and "this practice spread the length of the peninsula." She claims that "during the (following?) morning" he went alone to visit Governor General Hasegawa, showed him the photos and demanded an end to the massacres, which was done. Unlike his mother, Bruce T. Taylor knows the name of the place where the most notorious massacre occurred,
Ji Amri, with Christians locked inside a church which was then set alight. He also knows that his father had gone with an American consular official and H. H. Underwood. Neither of he nor his mother seem to realize that the atrocities happened much later, more than a month after March 1, on April 15. It is a well-known fact that the foreigner who took a photograph just after the Jeamni incident was Francis Scofield, and the most extensive account of all these events is that published in 1920, in Canadian journalist F. A. Mckenzie's Korea's Fight For Freedom Chapter 14 and Chapter 15.  There are ample records of the visits made by missionaries and consuls with A. W. Taylor to the site of these atrocities, and of the representations made to the Governor by missionaries and consuls, it is incorrect to claim that Taylor acted alone. The best source is The Korean Situation : authentic accounts of recent events by the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. Commission on Relations with the Orient. 1919.