The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

Conservation of the George Cross grant volume

Friday, 15 February 2019, 13:52 Last update: about 4 months ago

The volume holding a copy of the grant of the George Cross to Malta, held at the Notarial Archives within the Office of the Notary to Government, has undergone conservation treatment through a successful collaboration between the Office within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Din l-Art Ħelwa and the Notarial Archives Foundation. 

"This volume carries with it intrinsic historical significance, depicting our country's history and legacy", said Justice Minister Owen Bonnici during a visit to the Notarial Archives.


"Our history is an integral part of our identity and it has played an important role in shaping our country and, through this initiative, we are helping to preserve this historic volume for future generations. Thanks to a sound culture strategy, we aim to bring our country's heritage to the forefront in a way that it's more accessible to our society, especially during a time in which we are seeing a steady increase of interest garnered within the sector," Minister Bonnici continued.

The initiative was taken up following a guided visit in 2018 to the Notarial Archives for Din l-Art Ħelwa members. The conservation treatment was carried out by paper conservator Alejandra Molano Contreras, under the supervision of Head of Conservation Theresa Zammit Lupi. 

The volume required various interventions, such as surface cleaning, removal of old repairs, spine repair, and cover repair. A protective enclosure was created to house the volume safely and securely. All treatments were carried out using the highest quality grade conservation materials and following current and international conservation practice and work ethic. The collaboration between Din l-Art Ħelwa, whose members raised funds for the preservation of the volume, the Notarial Archives Foundation, together with the Office of the Notary to Government has contributed towards the endeavour of preserving Maltese national paper heritage and it is hoped to lead to further collaboration.

The George Cross was awarded by His Majesty King George V to the Maltese nation on 15 April 1942 for the valour and perseverance displayed during the Second World War. The deed was published in the Hall of St Michael and St George at the Governor's Palace, Valletta in the presence of Monsignor Michael Gonzi, Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta, on 7 February 1947. The Maltese population had undergone a complete disruption of everyday life, having faced food shortages and been the target of incessant bombings by the Axis forces. The volume preserves the record of this significant part of Maltese history and that of its people.

The volume contains the enrolment of the act drawn by the Chief Notary to Government, Dr Carmelo Farrugia. The contract is between Francis Campbell Ross Douglas, Governor and Commander in Chief of the Island of Malta and its Dependencies, and Sir George Borg, Chief Justice and President of His Majesty's Court of Appeal, 'wherein King George VI being desirous that for the greater honour and distinction of the Island of Malta' grants that a representation of the George Cross proper is placed on a canton azure to be borne for the Island of Malta and its dependencies upon seals, shields, banners or otherwise according to the law of arms.' 

The volume also contains other notarial deeds, such as sales of land, reconstruction of damaged accommodation and the supply of provisions and fuel, which further preserve aspects of the past of Malta and the culture of its population.

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