Gardens of Villa Frere, Pieta

The fascinating story of Villa Frere came into being when the Rt. Hon. John Hookham Frere, a renowned English scholar, politician, poet and diplomat, retired in Malta accompanied by his ailing wife, Lady Elizabeth dowager countess of Errol and his sister Susanna in 1821. They first resided in Valletta but a year later Frere took out a 99-year lease from the nuns of St. Catherine of a property on the Pieta waterfront which later became Villa Frere and its grand gardens.

Following the end of the lease the government embarked on plans to construct the new St. Luke’s general hospital. Works were postponed for the duration of the Second World War, during which time the gardens suffered some bombing damage. In 1952 Villa Frere was leased to third parties but the extensive gardens were radically downsized due to encroachment of the hospital as well as a new primary school built onto the Japanese garden and Wilderness. Thirty years later it was reduced even further when a helipad was laid out instead of the upper part of the gardens.

In June 2013 a dedicated group of volunteers got together to form the Friends of Villa Frere charity, with the sole intention of saving and restoring what remains of this grand estate. With just a mere third surviving, including the house, our mission is rendered even more critical. However, thanks to increasing media exposure, such as the President of Malta’s official visit in 2018, and a joint management agreement with Heritage Malta, 2020 saw the scheduling of Villa Frere and its gardens as a Grade 1 national monument by the Planning Authority and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, thus continuing to raise awareness about the beauty and historical and cultural importance of Villa Frere.

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29, Telgha ta' Gwardamanga , Pieta
Great Siege Road, Floriana
Historical Site
Vjal Nelson, Valletta