The English established
themselves at The Manor House and bestowed upon it a new sovereign
title, ‘The Bombay Castle’. This first Government House was
situated in the heart of the Fort, behind the Town Hall and between
the Mint and the Old Custom House.
Bombay Castle, had a
commanding view that strategically encompassed the port, it’s two
bays and the Town. In the words of an ensign, Bombay Castle, was, ‘the
strongest hold our makers are master of, in India’.
Historian James Douglas
evokes the powerful impression of Bombay Castle, ‘you pass under a
lofty gate. Two figures look upon you, Portuguese soldiers bearing
aloft the great globe itself, significant emblem of an inflated
dominion by sea and land’.
King Charles II was in
perennial needs of funds. He leased the islands to the East India
Company in exchange for a loan and a yearly rent of ten pounds in
1668. Sir George Oxinden was the first Governor appointed by the East
By 1686, the East India
Company shifted its headquarters from Surat to Bombay. ‘By 1710 the
Castle had been provided with a strong magazine, quarters for soldiers
and tanks to supply fresh water for a thousand people for twenty
Later, this move that
had initiated fortifications, prompted another shift. It was deemed
strategically inappropriate for the Governor to live within the
bulwarks. For, ‘all those who visited him would be able to assess
the strength and preparedness of the garrison.’ The search began for
a new residence.