Restoration of St Luke’s Chapel
St Lukes Garrison Chapel at Tigné, neglected for over two decades, has now been successfully restored to its original state.
A foundation stone traces the chapel's origins to January 16, 1910. Since then, St Luke's Garrison Chapel was reserved for use by officers and soldiers during the first 75 years of the 20th century. The chapel was still in use up until the departure of the British Armed Forces in 1979. In the 1980s and 1990s, St Luke's Chapel was utilised as a public space for drama, concerts and carnival dances.
Initial research into historical documents yielded only scant information, possibly because St Luke's Garrison Church belonged to a British military complex, and therefore relevant information may have been classified. However, researchers succeeded in unearthing a few important historical plans at the National Maltese Archives, situated at the former Santo Spirito Hospital in Rabat.
Externally, restoration work consisted mainly of examination of salt content through depth profiling; cleaning with low pressure salt free water; careful removal of vegetation and extraneous fixtures, such as electricity cables that had accumulated over the years; stone replacement and consolidation, as well as stone preservation treatment.
Weeds, bushes and trees that had over the years taken root around the chapel, and in some instances were even damaging the structure, were also removed.
Stone replacement was kept to a minimum, with damaged stones being excavated to an appropriate depth, and the new stones worked to the same profile and size. In some cases, however, stone replacement did prove to be necessary, such as below the cornice, within the lowest three courses of the building, and in two of the window columns. In addition, the missing belfry stone cross had to be replaced.
The new stones are distinguishable at a glance due to lack of weathering, but it is expected that, even without artificial ageing, they will quickly develop a patina that will approximate the colour and texture of the adjacent, original stones. Meanwhile, the asbestos cement pipes have been replaced by cast‐iron originals salvaged from the Tigné Barracks.
A similar operation was also carried out inside the chapel. The existing floor finish was retained, while the electricity services installation had to be re‐done from scratch. Inappropriate light fixtures and other recent additions were likewise carefully removed.
The restoration work forms part of the ongoing Manoel Island and Tigné Project, undertaken by the MIDI Consortium.