Almost a century before Grandmaster Manoel Vilhena personally financed the construction of a fine baroque Fort which today bears his name, the Knights established a quarantine institution on Manoel Island, popularly known as the Lazzaretto. Under British rule these isolation buildings were extended, making them amongst the best-appointed quarantine barracks in the Empire. The strict quarantine measures dictated that even after death, the deceased had to be buried on the grounds, leading to the creation of formal cemeteries. One of these was furnished with a funerary chapel dedicated to St George.
Just over a year ago restoration works began on this small but beautiful memorial chapel which is nearing completion. During the restoration process two fragmented but original tombstones were found strewn inside the chapel. These will now be restored and mounted within.
This association with quarantine activity did not stop with people but also extended to animals. In fact, Lazzaretto included quarters for travelers, crew and even livestock brought into port. A building was erected specifically for this purpose which became known as Il-Bovile and later the cattle shed. During British rule this was used for storage but for the past forty years the cattle shed has stood abandoned, exposed and vulnerable to the elements and vandalism.
Today, after a year of research and restoration, the first phase for this unique site has almost been completed as part of the restoration exercise undertaken by MIDI plc, for which over €20 million has already been invested on Fort Manoel alone.
Restoration Works on St George's Chapel - Manoel Island
Restoration Works on the Cattle Shed - Manoel Island