La Martiniere College in Lucknow was established in 1845 by Major General Claude Martin, a French adventurer and officer in the British East India Company's army. The college was founded as a boarding school for the sons of European and Anglo-Indian soldiers and civilians. It is a part of the chain of schools founded by the French adventurer Major General Claude Martin. Within the chain of schools, there are two La Martiniere Colleges in Kolkata and three in Lyon, France.
Major Claude Martin was a cultured soldier who kept a harem, farmed indigo, built palaces, and flew hot-air balloons. During his time in Awadh, he created the first scientific maps from Assam to Awadh and gained Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula's favour, becoming influential. In Lucknow, he built notable structures such as Chattar Manzil and Bibiapur Kothi.
The La Martiniere schools came about as part of the endowment made in the will of General Martin, who died in 1800. The establishment in Lucknow was completed only in 1845. The educational institution has the unique distinction of being the only one in the world to have received royal battle honours for its exceptional contributions and valour displayed by its students and faculty during the historic Siege of Lucknow in the First War of Independence in 1857.
The premises of La Martiniere, Lucknow, boasts two buildings. Constantia, which now houses the Boys’ College, was built in 1785 as Claude Martin’s country house. It wasn’t, however, completed until 1802. The College is famous for its stunning architecture, which blends French-Gothic and Indo-Saracenic styles to create a visual masterpiece. The beautiful architecture was designed by the enigmatic General Claude Martin himself.
The college campus boasts stunning red-brick buildings with elaborate archways and intricate details that exude grandeur. The lush, well-manicured lawns and gardens offer a picturesque backdrop. The Martiniere Tower, a city landmark, stands tall as the centrepiece of the campus. The chapel features stunning stained glass windows, a high vaulted ceiling, and a historical significance that echoes the colonial era. The campus also incorporates various elements such as balconies, verandas, and a house system, all contributing to its timeless beauty and historical charm.
La Martiniere College celebrates Founder's Day on November 13 every year, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Major General Claude Martin. Students, staff, and alumni attend this grand event, which features various cultural and sports activities.
The college follows a house system, in which students are divided into four houses: Rouse, Lyons, Cornwallis, and Martin, each with its colours and traditions. Students participate in inter-house competitions in academics, sports, and other activities.
In addition to the house system, La Martiniere College has several long-standing traditions, such as the annual Christmas Ball—a formal event attended by students, staff, and alums. Other traditions include the school song and college blazers, among others.
The college has a long list of distinguished alumni who have excelled in various fields, such as politics, sports, entertainment, literature, and more. Some notable alumni include the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, film actor Tom Alter, and renowned author Ruskin Bond. Many other accomplished individuals have graduated from this college, and their contributions to society have been significant in their respective fields.
La Martiniere College strongly focuses on sports and extracurricular activities and encourages its students to participate in various activities. The college has a great cricket, football, and hockey tradition and frequently competes against other schools in these sports. Additionally, the college has always maintained a reputation for academic excellence and has produced many scholars and leaders throughout its history.