House of Nicholas Monsarrat, author of ‘The Kappillan of Malta’, scheduled

Renowned author’s former Gozo house and Zejtun palazzino scheduled

The house of Nicholas Monsarrat in San Lawrenz. Photo: Godfrey Swain
The house of Nicholas Monsarrat in San Lawrenz. Photo: Godfrey Swain

The former Gozitan residence of renowned British author Nicholas Monsarrat and a palazzino in Zejtun have both been given a Grade 2 protection status by the Planning Authority for their architectural, historical and social significance. 

The property in San Lawrenz, Gozo which Nicholas Monsarrat purchased and moved into in the late 1960s comprises of two similar vernacular dwellings, each built around a front courtyard. Although the two-storey property has undergone rehabilitation works, the built fabric of both structures remains almost untouched. 

The property enjoys an extensive mature garden at the back and underground cisterns. Traditional vernacular features such as a shaded arcade around the courtyard, a ‘setaħ’ terrace at ground floor and stone staircases are evident in the dwellings. 

Monserrat who was a popular English novelist, best known for his work, The Cruel Sea, purchased the property in 1968 on the last day of a week-long holiday in Gozo. In 1973, Monsarrat wrote the book “The Kappillan of Malta” in this property, a book he is well known for in Malta. He died in August 1979. 

In Zejtun, the PA scheduled a palazzino in Triq Luqa Briffa. Located within the urban conservation area, the palazzino exhibits a neo-classical architectural style with a symmetrical and elevated façade. The decorative wrought iron ‘loġġ’ above the main doorway bearing the initials ‘D’ and ‘Z’ alluding to its original owners, namely the Testaferrata and Zamitello families. 

The facade is characterised by a central projecting balustraded parapet wall supported by two columns. The main doorway lies between the two columns and is flanked by traditional louvered timber windows above which is decorative masonry work. Internally, the property exhibits traditional features consisting of framings around the doorways, architraves and decorative pilasters along a ‘tal-anima’ staircase, ‘gavda’ mouldings and a traditional roofing system containing timber beams and stone slabs. 

Most of the rooms are built around a courtyard that leads onto an extensive formal garden having an elaborate and decorated gate which leads onto Triq il-Ħall. This formal neo-classical garden has a central traditional walkway embellished by columns along the length and width 

of the garden. The property also has a small ‘barumbara’ on the roof as well as access through the basement to private chambers of an air-raid shelter. 

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