On a steep hill leading to Mdina is an old, derelict building. Weeds and small bushes grow out of the cracks and crevices that time and the elements have carved in the stone. The red sign warns people to keep away because of the possibility of collapse; the crumbling stones give an indication of its age. At least four centuries have passed since this building was erected.
This is one of a number of wash-houses built by the Knights of St John in areas where natural springs were abundant even in the hot summer months. It was to these places that the village women would bring their dirty laundry. Some were servants at the big houses in Mdina, washing the clothes of the nobility for a few pennies. Others would just bring the washing of their whole family.
I can only imagine all the tales and gossip that these walls have must have heard as the clothes of the nobleman and the peasant were cleansed in the same spring water. I can almost hear the gay chatter and laughs of the women as they went about their arduous chore. Centuries later the only sound that can be heard is the gentle trickle of the water as it falls into the rough-hewn basins.
Although this building is in imminent danger of collapse, some of these old fountains in other areas have been restored. The foundations of this particular wash-house, however, are built on clay which is why it is in such a bad shape. Hopefully a way of keeping this building intact will be found so that future generations will be able to appreciate our heritage.