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The Dellija redoubt

Oliver Mallia requested (January 30) to know what the Latin inscription signifies on the pilaster which today stands below the coats-of-arm at Id-Dellija in St Paul’s Bay. It records that Grand Master Raimund Perellos y Roccafull built the redoubt to match the zeal of “the magnanimous prince” Philippus Vendosme of the Priory of France to defend the maritime integrity of the bay against the enemy with the backing of the Council of the Order in 1715.

The arms are those of the Order (centre) flanked by that of the Grand Master (left) and of France. Vendosme was the architect of this and the complimentary identical redoubt at the opposite end of the bay referred to as Ix-Xemxija. They cost 1,000 scudi (about €208).

Early in the 20th century Id-Dellija was the summer residence of my grandfather, Antonio Muscat Fenech – this photograph taken by him shows in the foreground how an extension had been built to accommodate the family and relatives. In this picture the entrance is hidden but above the large window at right can be seen the three coat-of–arms.

One of the young persons on the parapet at the back is my mother. My grandfather named this Id-Dellija as it lay in the sunshade below the Wardiija Heights. Flying over the Dellija redoubt is the flag of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire of which my grandfather was consul-general and the Union flag.

The other redoubt was named Ix-Xemxija by the Borg Cardona family who lived there in the summer as it faced the sun and the area got its name from this. This still exists, lost among present day constructions and has been converted into a restaurant.

The Dellija was demolished in 1924 to widen the narrow dirt road which was really a country track and very muddy after rain. This here forked to Għajn Tuffieħa and Mellieħa and was used by country carts which were being replaced by cars. Only the parapet was left and the coats-of-arms. When the present roundabout and jetty were built after the war only the coat-of-arms and tablet were retained.

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