Stqarrija bil-Malti Agħfas Hawn / Press Release in Maltese Click Here

Heritage Malta has renewed its partnership with Friends of Villa Frere by signing a Memorandum of Understanding that extends their existing agreement for another five years. This renewal allows the non-governmental organisation to continue administering the villa with the support of Heritage Malta, building on its significant achievements.

Over the past five years, Friends of Villa Frere has successfully started to revive this villa which had been left in a state of neglect and abandonment. Villa Frere is not only a site with two hundred years of history; it has also hosted philanthropic events, promoted the Maltese language, and showcased exceptional gardening skills that led to Villa Frere’s gardens being featured in Country Life, a prestigious international publication, in 1930.

Built in the early 19th century in Tal-Pietà, Villa Frere became the residence of British diplomat, poet, scholar, and philanthropist John Hookham Frere. After his wife’s demise in 1831, he built extensive terraced gardens at the rear of the property, from where he enjoyed wide open views spanning from Mdina to Valletta.

Restoration works during the past few years have focused on Villa Hay, one of the buildings in the gardens, which was used as a retreat for John Hookham Frere’s wife. Restoration and rebuilding was also carried out in the Gardeners Cottage, a quaint sun terrace which also served as a plant nursery shaded by a stone veranda and a belvedere on the roof. Reconstruction of a lofty wall which separates Villa Frere from a neighbouring property is also underway. Many of the works were carried out by the volunteers themselves, with materials and specialised interventions being sponsored by private individuals and commercial entities, together with Heritage Malta. The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage monitors all interventions.

Heritage Malta’s Chief Executive Officer, Noel Zammit, remarked that, “The work of the volunteers at this site has been truly extraordinary, and continues to enhance Heritage Malta’s appreciation of the invaluable role of volunteers in our society.” He added that, “This recognition is precisely why the recently launched patronage scheme also accommodates volunteers, as Heritage Malta believes they too can contribute significantly to the preservation of our country’s cultural heritage.”

In recent years, Heritage Malta became the official owner of Villa Frere, but in 2019 it handed over the administration to Friends of Villa Frere, which is directly helping to protect the place. Additionally, in 2020 Villa Frere and its gardens were scheduled as a Grade 1 property by the Planning Authority. This, together with the regular opening of the gardens to the public, has helped to raise awareness of the historical and cultural importance of Villa Frere.

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