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A warm summer evening at Villa Frère
For those on the search for a warm summer evening, spent far away from the crowds: your prayers have been answered. A special opening of Villa Frère will be taking place on Sunday 4 July, between 5pm and 8:30pm.
The opening is an initiative of the NGO friends of the Villa, in collaboration with Heritage Malta. The NGO in question has worked hard to protect what remains of the villa, especially in terms of restoring the gardens to their former glory.
Built in the 18th century, Villa Frère became the residence of British diplomat, poet, scholar and philanthropist John Hookham Frère. 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 all the way from Mdina to Valletta. He found that he could also look out at the Msida Bastion Cemetery, where his wife reposed.
The Villa became a sanctuary for many an academic, most famously Mikiel Anton Vassalli, who reportedly discussed with Frère how to establish Maltese as a written and taught language. The romantic story, as well as Villa Frère’s garden faded away along with Frère’s death in 1846. The site was neglected until 40 years later, when the Villa became the residence of Captain Edward Price. A notable garden enthusiast, he gave life back to the property, earning it the title of a botanic garden. The place then became a prominent attraction, both to locals as well as foreigners.
Today, just over a third of the original area survives, yet the mystique remains. Those who wish to experience it may do so on Sunday, against a donation of €5. Children will be admitted free of charge and all proceeds will go towards the continuous restoration of the gardens. Entrance is through St Luke’s Hospital in Pieta.
Check out all the latest that Heritage Malta has going on here.