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John Burden Blandy, who was head of the Blandy wine lodges in Funchal, bought the Palheiro estate at public auction in 1885.

He was criticised by friends and family alike for having purchased what they believed was a "white elephant". The property was remote from Funchal and the Casa Velha (Old House) was already by then at an advanced state of disrepair.

He also decided to construct a new house on the site of the Casa da Francesa, the property the 2nd Count of Carvalhal had built for his mistress. This was completed in 1891 and is where the family lived during the summer months.

Blandy wasted no time in improving the grounds. He added new outhouses, including a turbine-driven sawmill, and rebuilt the reservoir at the top of the estate. He initiated the farming of cereal crops and commenced forestry. He and his wife also continued to develop the gardens development.

Until the construction roads and the advent of vehicular transport, the men of the family would travel in to Funchal on business in the morning by carro de cesto (basket sledge) and return in the evening on horseback. The women and children, however, usually stayed at home during the day except when visiting neighbours either by hammock, palanquin or on horseback.


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