Precise dating of the sequence of construction of the various components of the property is impossible. However, the patterns of the stonework, and particularly the details at junctions between walls, speak out loud to a careful observer.

It is clear, from the way in which the walls are built, that the Knights’ Hall, Kitchen (the original stables) and the lower 3 metres or so of the dry stone wall surrounding the courtyard were constructed concurrently; the stonework in these walls is continuous and seamless.

Plate 16Junction between entrance Hall front wall and Chapel wall

Physical evidence shows that the Chapel together with the Office at first floor level were built contemporaneously and before the stables. The Courtyard wall abuts the Chapel’s south western corner (front of building) and there is no connection between the masonry in the two elements (16). The fact that the end of the Courtyard wall which abuts, and rests against, the Chapel ‘s south eastern corner (in the Courtyard) contains an alcove (17), one jamb of which is the external face of the Chapel wall, proves that this end of the wall must also have been built after the Chapel and not before, because a dry-stone tall wall containing an alcove which is missing one side, with no lateral support, would not have been structurally stable without the support of a previously existing adjacent wall. Similar considerations apply to the point where the external wall meets the Chapel structure by the main entrance archway; a jamb which is only twenty centimeters wide at its maximum would not have been stable enough to support the side-thrust from the arch over the entrance, without the buttressing effect of a previously built structure, in this case the Chapel corner.

Plate 17Junction between Chapel wall and Courtyard wall, showing alcove

It is therefore evident from the stonework patterns that the masonry forming the Knights’ Hall, Kitchen and Entrance Hall external walls, whilst having been built at the same time, is not continuous with that in the Chapel’s walls and must have been built consequently to the construction of the Chapel itself. However, the interval between the construction of the Chapel and of the rest of the structures at ground floor level cannot be determined; the walls could have been built immediately after the completion of the Chapel block, which is the most plausible theory, or at any unspecified time afterwards. It is however also possible that the original building, consisting of what are now the Chapel plus the Office above, existed in isolation for some time, with any farm animals probably held in pens of a temporary nature located in what is now the Courtyard, until the stables were built and the Courtyard completed.

The first floor Council Chamber and the additional courses in the Courtyard and parapet walls were however constructed at an even later date, as will be explained below.

It is certain that the small room which is now used as the Office at first floor was constructed in 1713, during the reign of Grandmaster Ramon Perellos, as evidenced by the date etched in the lintol over the small window overlooking Triq l-Arznu (18).

Plate 1819

18. Photograph of window overlooking Triq l-Arznu bearing date 1713
19. Demarcation between 1713 section and Council Chamber viewed from street

This room, and therefore the Chapel below, which continuity of stonework shows were built at the same time, are the only parts of the building which can be dated with certainty.

It is to be noted that Torri Lanzun is described as an “early 18 th century country house” by Professor Stanley Fiorini 5. The stonework patterns show that the first floor Council Chamber and Office were built at different times, and it is certain, from the way in which the roof stonework for the former room mounts over that for the latter, and also from the method of construction of the roofs themselves, that the small Office (bearing the date 1713) was built before the Chamber. The Office roof in fact is built in the vernacular “stone slabs on corbels” system, whilst the Chamber roof consists of stone slabs supported by timber beams, an altogether later system, which also allowed for a wider room width. The clean lines of separation between the original and the later masonry are very clear, when viewed both from the exterior of the building and from within the courtyard (19) (20).

Plate 2021

20. Demarcation between 1713 section and Council Chamber viewed from Courtyard
21. Skin wall built at end of Chapel western wall

Close inspection of the building’s stonework reveals that, in order to construct the Council Chamber and the spiral staircase well leading to its roof, a new supporting, and sizable, stone “skin” was added on along the external wall at the western end of the Chapel, without destroying the original wall (21). This added wall also squared off the building’s plan, which originally was skewed at the western end of the Chapel, and this permitted the new “grand” room at first floor level (the Council Chamber) to have a rectangular shape. This new wall varies in thickness from 0.6 metres to 2.4 metres, resulting in a substantial width of wall at this location. Immediately above this thickened wall is the spiral staircase in its incorrectly termed “tower”, and this thick wall permitted the construction of the most elegant element in the building, the stone balcony wrapping around the north western corner, supported by six massive stone corbels. This is the only part of the building which was built in true Baroque style. This balcony overlooks the important valley which separates San Gwann from Swieqi (“Wied Ghomor”), and originally enjoyed a vista extending to Gozo; it was therefore most probably built, certainly at considerable expense, to enable the building’s owner to take pleasure in the views, rather than for any purpose related to defence. The entire western end of the Chapel block was therefore built after 1713.