Following on from the success of a similar event organised on the 4th of July, those seeking a balmy summer evening spent far from the madding crowd will once again be able to visit Villa Frère on Sunday the 1st of August, between 18.00 and 21.00.
This is an initiative of the NGO Friends of Villa Frère, in collaboration with Heritage Malta. The NGO has worked hard to protect what remains of the villa and to restore 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 from Mdina to Valletta. He could also look out at the Msida Bastion Cemetery, where his wife reposed.
Villa Frère became a sanctuary for numerous academics, most famously Mikiel Anton Vassalli who reportedly discussed with Frère how to establish Maltese as a written and taught language.
This romantic story and Villa Frère’s garden faded away with Frère’s death in 1846. The site fell into neglect until forty 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 became a prominent attraction, both to locals and foreigners.
Today, just over a third of the original area survives, yet the mystique is still there. Those who wish to experience it may do so on the 1st of August, against a donation of €5. Children will be admitted free of charge. All proceeds will go towards the continuous restoration of the gardens. Entrance is through St Luke’s Hospital, Pietà.