J.R. Jayewardene ​ Centre

The Centre was established by act of Parliament titled J.R Jayewardene Centre Act No. 77 of 1988. The act specified the venue as 191, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 07. It was an apt depository for the treasure for it was the house where President Jayewardene spent a part of his childhood and later till 1938 the year he shifted to his own house ‘Braemar’.

Ever since he became head of government and head of state he made it a practice to store the goods he received from state visitors or on state visits abroad in a special room or rooms at the President’s House, thus underlining the point that these were not personal to him but property of the state’. (A Political Biography Vol. II Cha. 37 P.718. K. M. de Silva and Howard Wriggins) This simple gesture was the indirect indication of his noble thought that he would leave everything he treasured, including his own house ‘Braemar’ at Ward place in which he lived with his charming wife Elina throughout his married life, to the benefit and service of the public.

Among the things he contemplated to be transferred to the Centre were

Today the Jayawardene Centre, apart from its original purpose of repository and reference library, is an educational base where classes in various disciplines such as meditation, arts and crafts, information technology, languages, aerobic exercises, Kandyan dancing etc., are conducted by competent instructors in these fields.

The Centre also floats a scholarship fund for children who cannot afford higher education due to poor economic reasons.

The Centre is endowed with a fully equipped auditorium and reception hall housed in a four storied building. The reception hall is hired out for wedding receptions, seminars and workshops on literature, history, religion and for book launches at very reasonable rates.

President Jayewardene’s love and concern for the Centre is evinced by the fact that, as reported, he turned down the invitation to assume Presidentship temporarily after the assassination of President Premadasa and went back to his library to do what pleased him most in his retirement to oversee the establishment of the J.R Jayewardene Centre at the house in which he had spent part of his childhood and the early years of his professional career! (ibid. ch. 37 p.733)


The vision of the Centre is to be the leading provider of information on the late H.E. J. R. Jayewardene and to acquire, conserve and preserve the related resources for posterity.


To conserve and preserve the existing collection, develop databases, finding aids, digital and manual indexes
facilitating access and to disseminate information for researchers and the public.


(a)  Accept for deposit, books, papers, files, photographs, motion picture films and discs, audiotape and video tape recordings, family heirlooms and memorabilia of the childhood and youth of the said   J.R Jayewardene, items created and collected by him out of personal interest, memorabilia relating to election campaigns, official portraits and awards, medals and gifts received by him.  

 (b)  Accept for deposit, material relating to the said J.R Jayewardene, donated by political party associates, family and personal friends and others.

 (c)   Take all necessary steps to protect and preserve the material referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b).

 (d)  Provide a reference service on such material.

 (e)  Present exhibitions of such material.

 (f)    Hold scholarly meetings.

 (g)  Hold oral history programmes.

 (h)  Solicit and accept, donations, gifts and bequests of money or other property, for the purpose of maintaining, operating, protecting or improving the Centre.


Mr. Prematilaka Mapitigama

Mr. Prematilaka Mapitigama (1930-2012) had a long and distinguished career in the Sri Lankan Administrative Service, retired in 1996 culminating with the highest position, the Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka. After retirement, in 1993 he was appointed as the founder Secretary General of the J. R. Jayewardene Centre. He held this position for 19 years, until his demise in 2012. He was an eminent writer and publisher of several books in Sinhala and in English, including “Muhunu Dekak” (Two Faces), followed by “Sarthaka Vivahayakata” (Way to a Happy Marriage), based on his years of his service in the Marriage and Divorce Commission of Sri Lanka. Among the series of books followed the Longest Days published in English in 2002 covering his vast experience in government service is noteworthy. He made immense contribution to the JRJ Centre at its formative stage, particularly at opening the doors of the centre to the public for the first time in 1993.
Special Consultant

Prof. K. D. Paranavitana

Graduated from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in 1968, joined the National Archives of Sri Lanka in 1970 and in 1979 studied Archive Administration at the National Archives of The Netherlands. Served as the Asst. Director of the Presidential Archives, predecessor to the JRJ Centre for nearly ten years. In 1994, obtained PhD at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. In 1996, he retired as Deputy Director, National Archives, taken up a University career at the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka where he was the Professor of Humanities. Recently, he was conferred DLitt. (Honoris Causa) by the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka. In 2002, on the occasion of 400 years of Sri Lanka Netherlands relations, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, honoured him as a Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau. He is the only non-burgher Honorary Member of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon. He is also a Past President of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka the author of many publications in Sinhala and in English including ‘J. R. Jayewardene; a Pictorial Retrospect (2018). He also delivered J. R. Jayewardene Memorial Oration on two occasions, one in 2012 and the other in 2018. He is presently serving as Consultant to the J. R. Jayewardene Centre.