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With an earlier attempt to visit the Quinta de Villar d’Allen in the camellia season having been disrupted by torrential rain, the BHSP Porto branch was met with lovely weather on Saturday 13 April for the rescheduled visit to the Allen family’s home in the Freixo area of Porto. We toured the gardens, saw the camellias, visited the house, and learnt of the family's history. The visit culminated with a glass of the exclusive Villar d'Allen family port wine and scrumptious home-made biscuits.

    

Seventeen members were guided round the gardens by Tomás Allen, great-great-great-grandson of John Allen, who bought the house and began to design the gardens in the early to mid-19th century. Tomás was joined by the next generation, his son João, and by his mother, Dona Isaura, who is an expert on the hundreds of cultivars of camellias growing in the extensive grounds. We also marvelled at the many varieties of exotic trees, including an enormously tall araucaria. 

   

In the ground-floor rooms, particularly the library, which now serves as a museum, Tomás explained the family history, the identities of those in the various portraits and the significance of some of the artefacts, including some used in the Liberal Wars between D. Miguel and S. Pedro in 1832-34.

  

The photos show Tomás Allen and his son, João, and Dona Isaura with a bottle of the family's port.

 

After a thoroughly enjoyable morning several of the group repaired to the nearby Adega de São Pedro for an agreeable lunch.

 

For those wishing to visit the Quinta independently, information can be obtained at: https://ambiente.cm-porto.pt/cidade-das-camelias/quinta-de-villar-dallen

 

Alan Dawber

 

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