Friday, 8 November 2013

I have been to … the Naval Museum, Malta: The Order of the Knights of St John Hall

The Knights of St John ruled Malta from 1530 until the British occupation in 1800. (The people of Malta were given the option to return to rule by the Knights of St John in 1814 when the Napoleonic Wars ended, but they voted to remain under British rule.) It is therefore not surprising that such a large part of the Museum is devoted to the ships that the Knights of St John built and operated whilst they were based in Malta.

The entrance to the Hall is dominated by a huge model of an eighteenth century warship that was used by the Knights.

The Hall contains numerous model ships, including one of an eighteenth century Grand Master’s ceremonial barge and …

… the late seventeenth century ceremonial barge used by Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt.

There are also models of typical war galleys and xebecs of the types used by the Knights of St John.

Later sailing warships are also represented, including a late eighteenth century Third Rate ship-of-the-line.

There are also models of the various types of sailing merchant ships and small boats used in and around Maltase waters.

The Hall also contains examples of the different types of artillery used aboard the warships operated by the Knights of St John.


  1. What an extraordinary collection. Do you have any idea what the mug like things in the last picture are?

  2. Conrad Kinch,

    It is an excellent museum, with a wonderful collection. I only wish that I had had longer than an hour to look around.

    The mug-like objects are Elizabethan-era breeches from early breech-loading guns. (These were often small swivel guns.) These could be preloaded with shot and powder, and then placed in a slot in the back of the gun. It was then wedged in, the gun was fired, the wedge was removed, and the next 'mug' put in its place.

    (See Breech-loading Swivel Gun for examples.)

    All the best,



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