An opportunity to visit the Main Guard as restoration works continue

11/10/2021

On Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th October, Heritage Malta will be giving the public the opportunity to visit the Main Guard in Valletta, where restoration and conservation works are currently ongoing, including a new lease of life for hundreds of small paintings on the walls. Admission during this open weekend will be free of charge.

The Main Guard was probably built towards the beginning of the 17th century by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt to serve as quarters for the guards of the Grand Master’s palace, just across the square. This function was retained for more than 350 years, until the early 1970s.

During British rule, hundreds of pictures were painted on the Main Guard walls, mostly in the Officers’ Mess, where the guards ate and rested in between shifts. Painting was one of these soldiers’ pastimes, and in fact there are over 300 pictures, some of which were recently discovered during conservation and restoration works.

Opening times on Saturday 23rd will be from 11:00am until 10:00pm while opening times on Sunday 24th will be from 10:00am until 4:00pm.


Those who wish to visit the Main Guard during this open weekend are asked to express their interest by filling in the form below.

The event is FREE. This is not a booking form and you will not receive an acknowledgment of your interest. However, due to Covid-19 measures, we need to regulate the flow of visitors at any one time and thus you are required to kindly fill this form in if you wish to attend the event. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. 

 

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Murals

This saucy wall painting of an Edwardian bathing beauty is one of the many women depicted in the Officer Mess at the Main Guard in Valletta. Painted in 1909 by Dela Cour, a soldier-artist with the 1st Battalion/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the risqué ‘Bagneuse’, replete with plunging décolleté and black stockings, stands jauntily by the seashore next to a large crab. ‘The poor crab’ a tongue-in-cheek inscription in French declares.

 

The spiked helmets and bayonet of two British soldiers dominate the foreground of this busy wall painting on the walls of the Officer Mess at the Main Guard in Valletta. The crowded square is a snapshot of daily life at the time of the British occupation. A small cross-section of Maltese society, including ladies from the upper-class wearing dresses of the period, a karozzin, and a Maltese goatsherd and his flock are depicted in the background, behind the imperial profiles of the soldiers.

 

One particular badge makes a repeated appearance along the myriad wall paintings on the walls of the Officer Mess at the Main Guard in Valletta. The King’s Own Malta Regiment was a territorial infantry regiment of the British Army (colonial list) prior to Malta’s independence. This regimental badge represents a monumental historical document in Maltese military history. The Regimental flag’s colours indicate the evolution of this badge throughout its history until 1972, when the regiment was disbanded.

 

An exasperated Officer yells at three distracted privates whose ‘line of sight’ has obviously been skewed by the exposed calves of a woman in a humorous 1914 wall painting in the Officer Mess at the Main Guard in Valletta. Entitled ‘Eyes on the mark’, the painting is signed by the artist W. Hunter, a member of the 2nd Bn. London Reg. (Royal Fusiliers).

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