The well-head and gibbet at Casa Leoni in Santa Venera before the restoration started.The well-head and gibbet at Casa Leoni in Santa Venera before the restoration started.

Mapfre MSV Life is sponsoring a restoration project to safeguard what remains of Villa Frère, one of Malta’s most important historic estates which has been abandoned for over 70 years. It was the place where John Hookham Frère (1769-1846) spent the last years of his life in Malta.

The project is being undertaken by the Friends of Villa Frère and includes the restoration of a number of fine pieces of sculpture including well-heads, carved benches and troughs once embellishing Villa Frère’s gardens.

These artefacts, which had been presumed lost and were only recently discovered and returned with the cooperation of the Minister of the Environment, José Herrera, are being restored by leading lime-stone preservationists.

Announcing the sponsorship, Michael Galea, chief officer business development at Mapfre MSV Life, said: “We are delighted to be supporting such an important restoration project that is being handled so professionally by the NGO Friends of Villa Frère.

“We believe that this is an important contribution that we are making towards our national heritage in a project that is salvaging part of what was once a glorious 14 tumoli Maltese garden rich with historical significance.”

Mapfre MSV Life is sponsoring the restoration of a well-head and gibbet which originally stood in the upper gardens of Villa Frère just behind of the neo-classical tempietto and photographed on numerous occasions. It bears the Frère coat-of-arms on its pediment.

Today its context at Pietà is radically altered, however, there are plans to have this space restored in time.

Carved in globigerina limestone, its floral arabesque style could very possibly have been produced by the workshop of acclaimed architectural sculptor Vincenzo Dimech (1768-1831).

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