Update, September 2005, Madeira:  Women, History, Books and Places (HOLO Books September 2004)


In October 2004, we revisited Madeira for the launch of the book.    That allowed me to:  visit places for which I had  previously relied on the help of informants or my reading;  be corrected by people in Madeira;  and catch up on the latest publications, particularly Marjorie Hoare's  The Quintas of Madeira (September 2004).   On the whole, I am comfortable with the 2004 version as it stands, these additions are merely me seeking perfection for your sake!   There are, however, one or two necessary corrections, particularly in the Monte section (pp.148-9).   How you use this update is up to you;  but you might like to print it out and tuck it into your copy of the livret - it is meaningless on its own.    The livret is available in the United Kingdom and Madeira and The Hobart Bookshop, Tasmania.   It can of course be ordered by several other means, particularly from this website.  There are no plans at the moment for a printed second edition (which depends on sales!).

I am making amendments by suggestions to insert in or delete from pages of the original.

insert in page 14, paragraph 2, line 6

A century later, the firm of Widow Abudarham & Sons came into being.  In 1843, Clara Hadida and Jose Abudarham from Gibraltar had married in Lisbon and moved to Madeira where he set up in business.   In about 1860, he started dealing in wine.   In due course the family moved into the Quinta de Sao Roque which was to remain the Abudarham home until 1989.

            When Jose died in 1869, Clara was left with five children to support.   She took over the wine business in the old post office in Funchal and changed its name to indicate her status and control.   By 1875, to procure sugar, she had also rented the Factory of Sao Joao which belonged to the Sugar Making Company of Madeira.  Clara died, aged 66, in 1887, leaving her sons further to develop the business and, with their wives and descendants, the family's position in Society.

            When Clara's namesake and great-granddaughter, Clara Abudarham Camara (1906-1982), was widowed young in 1933, she also immersed herself in commercial activities.   Her sister Vera (1909-1982) was President of the National Feminist Movement.


insert in either pp. 24-27 (Queen Maria II da Gloria – history), or pp 90-97 (Santa Clara Convent – itinerary) or both.

I have found a new woman traveller, Jane Roberts (see additions to bibliography at the end of this update) who passed through Madeira on her way to Van Diemen’s Land in 1829.  She adds some interesting insights to the tussle in Madeira between the supporters of the Portuguese Queen Maria II da Gloria (Pedrists) and her uncle and usurper Dom Miguel (Miguelites), as well as the goings on at the Santa Clara Convent, particularly as they affected the position of the famous nun Maria Clementina.  Jane Roberts and her party visited the grating through which strangers had access to the convent, were not impressed by the nuns but bought some of the overpriced ‘specimens of their art’.   Jane continues:

We then asked permission to see the convent, which, being refused, we were preparing to depart, when the eldest of the sisters, putting her face close to the grating, asked, in an under-tone, ‘What news from England of Don Miguel?’  Never, I think, were people more astonished than we were at having politics thus started.

Engaged as we had been previously to leaving England, and not having since seen a paper, we had almost forgotten the existence of Don Miguel;  but after a little conversation, we answered that Donna Maria had been kindly received by our most gracious Monarch George the Fourth, and that the people of England felt assured her Ministers would act for the best, although, when we sailed, they were in ignorance as to which way that would be.   The nuns then asked several other questions, all tending to the same point, talked much and loud, and we left them, thinking there was anything but peace and quiet within for which they claim credence.

On our return to the hotel we were told that the convent was in the greatest confusion:  that, instead of one being for ‘Paul’ and another for ‘Apollos,’ some were for Pedro [Maria’s father] and others for Miguel;  that Donna Clementina, a beautiful nun, was in ‘durance vile’ for espousing Don Miguel’s cause;  that the nature and extent of her punishment were the constant theme of conversation;  but it was her beauty only that gained her any pity, as Donna Maria’s cause was the universally espoused cause.

One of the ladies of the party thought that, in going to and returning from the convent, she had been particularly noticed, and, as there was nothing remarkable either in her dress or person, she could not account for it;  but the mistress of the hotel soon solved the mystery, by beckoning her into a room, and, closing the door, said ‘ Ah, oui, c’est bien vrai, Mademoiselle est pour Donna Maria da Gloria.’ [So, it’s true, Mademoiselle supports Donna Maria da Gloria] Mademoiselle expressed her astonishment as to how her political sentiments, whatever they might be, were known.  The woman replied, ‘Votre jolie chaine’ – (a chain of sky-blue, Donna Maria’s colour, to which her glass was attached.) Tout le monde la demande;  voulez vous bien la faire cadeau.’ [Your beautiful chain.  Everyone wants it;  will you give it to me.]   The lady replied, she was sorry to refuse, but it was not customary for English ladies to make presents to strangers.   When she again went into the street she took it off, considering that, as she had declined giving it when politely asked, she might perhaps miss it, without a repetition of the compliment.


insert in p. 56, add to first paragraph

We went back to Madeira to launch the first edition of this book in October 2004 and stayed for two weeks at the most charming and comfortable Quinta da Penha de Franca, to be found just off Rua Imperatriz Dona Amelia, before you reach Ribeiro Seco and Reids Hotel.   This family hotel was developed from the original quinta, which she inherited after the Second World War, by Muriel Ribeiro who still keeps a beady eye on everything.


insert in  p.61, line 4 (and therefore take out as relevant from p. 114)

For centuries the old Lazareto stood there.   The painting by Emily Smith of the Sao Lourenco from the Lazareto, more than many others, shows how things have changed in 150 years.    At some stage, the Lazareto probably shared the large Marina Centre site with the Quinta das Fontes which became the first hotel of William and Margaret Reid.

            The founder of the Reid dynasty, William George, came to Madeira from Scotland in 1836 as a 14-year-old.   Beginning to prosper, in 1847 he spotted a gap in the market and started letting rooms in Funchal's quintas to visitors during the winter months.   Such a visitor was the Marchioness Camden who rented Quinta de Santa Luzia for two years, bringing with her 28-year-old Margaret Dewey (c.1819-1875) as her companion.   Reid was immediately smitten and married Margaret that year;  they were to have twelve children.   Together they saw another gap and bought Quinta das Fontes which they turned into The Royal Edinburgh Hotel.  One of their most interesting guests was Sarah Forbes Davies.

  In 1849, Captain Forbes of HMS Bonetta, trying to persuade King Gezo of Dahomey to give up his part in the slave trade, was given a young girl who became known as Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a celebrity in England and Queen Victoria's goddaughter.   She married the Sierra Leonean merchant James Davies in 1862 and returned with him to Africa.   But, when she became ill as a result of his financial difficulties, she travelled to Madeira in the hope of regaining her health.

            Sarah arrived at the Royal Edinburgh Hotel in March 1880.   By then she was about 37 years old, beautiful, English-educated, probably in Victorian dress and seemingly only with her jewels to pay her way.   By August she was dead.  Reid took her jewels to pay for her accommodation, medical care and funeral.   She was buried in the Protestant Cemetery, without a headstone (see p.78) 


insert in p. 64, end of third paragraph

(just past the orphanage is Rua Jasmineiro;  see pp. 98-9 for the story of Luzia)


p.67 [ Reids Palace ] starts:

  The earliest days of the Reid family in Madeira have been described on pp. 60-1'  the story of the intervening years will be told in the next but one itinerary (see pp. 113-4)


p. 70, 4 lines from the bottom

  I suspect that should 211, but number 215, two doors along, seems to fit Isabella's description better.


p. 78, second line from the bottom (after 'see p.104)

that of Sarah Forbes Davies, see p. 61, lies unmarked between numbers 205 and 207 (it is in the register as 206).  It is ringed by stones and covered with agapanthus.


insert in p.81, paragraph 2, line 3

Today at the Avenida Arriaga end of the little street, on your right, number 26, is an arch with 1666 inscribed over the top.   Seen through it in a courtyard is a pleasant, slightly quirky, modern complex housing the Camara de Comercio  e Industria da Madeira.    In here was the Becco Chapel set up by the Reverend Richard Lowe in 1848 (see p.23).  Two centuries earlier it had all belonged to Dona Mecia de Vasconcelos.

            In 1695, a cleric in the nearby Sao Francisco Monastery (now the Old Blandy Wine Lodge) fired at a bird but hit Dona Mecia instead.   She died soon thereafter.   The story is told in the handsomely illustrated The Quintas of Madeira (2004) which Marjorie Hoare lovingly researched over many years, having come to Madeira as a child during the Second World War.

            Isabella de Franca visited the House of Dona Mecia in 1853 and found it disappointingly neglected.   It was designated a listed building in the 1940s but a fire caused extensive damage in 1957.   The Sao Francisco Gardens (once known as the Dona Amelia Gardens ) are a pleasant place for a pit stop and a fresh fruit juice. (This also amends middle paragraph of p.23)


p.90 After 'from time to time', line 3

A better bet would be lunch on the terrace at Quinta Penha de Franca where the walls from the lobby and up the stairs are hung with Harcourt prints from her published folio.   This could be done during the itinerary 'Waterfront from the Old Town ', just before you cross the Ribeiro Seco.


p. 98, 2 lines from the end

died in Funchal of tuberculosis at Quinta Carlos Alberto Rua Jasmineiro (just past the Hospicio and Orphanage (pp.62-64).   Turning left into the road, you will see immediately on your left a tall gate and high wall above which towers a frangipani tree, flowering in the autumn and obscuring the private house.


bottom of p. 105, take out the last sentence and insert

The record shows that Mary died, aged 53, in 1843, the year of her drawing.


p.115 omit the last sentence from the end and add

If you were to work your way back to Rua Visconde da Anadia, you could visit the market across the road - especially lively on Friday mornings.


insert in p.117, end of first paragraph

Peasant hardship in the coastal area stretching from Camara de Lobos to Ribeira Brava is captured historically by Lee Langley's novel Distant Music (2002).   Her heroine, Esperanca, starts her journey through the centuries as a lass in Madeira in 1429 - nine years after the island was 'discovered'.  Life is as difficult as it has probably ever been for any woman but Esperanca is one of the strong determined kind.   When rape by one of the landlords for whom she works in the vineyards is inevitable, she makes a deal with him:  a vine for each time he demands her favours.   Then she needed land in which to plant:

The best area for vines was around Camara de Lobos and she had bought there, modest strip by strip, climbing the steep terraces, sweating, knees and thighs aching, her hands jewelled with glowing calluses, digging the trenches herself, lining them with loose stones to stop the roots going through to the rock-hard soil beneath.   She prepared the land through spring and early summer, planting the cuttings.   Fed by the winter rains, the roots were sturdy by the following spring.   Then came the patience, waiting for the vines to bear fruit three years after planting.

Gradually she begins to prosper.   But life is never that simple.  This is definitely a novel worth reading in Madeira;  even though it moves from there to Portugal and then to London , Esperanca's experiences are Madeira-flavoured to the end of a thoughtful, well-researched and vivid story.


p.137 - correction - Reveredo should be Revoredo and add to the end

Casa da Cultura.  When I visited it, there was an exhibition of paintings by Guiducha Silva Reis.


p.141, (Quinta do Palmeira) end of line 2 add

One of Isabel's quests at Palmeira was the writer 'Luzia' (see pp. 98-9) who is said to have written some of her letters from there.

next but one paragraph - correction:  Binkie is Theo and George's granddaughter (not daughter).  Add to the end You maybe the only visitor, allowing you easily to imagine life there in a more tranquil and privileged age.

p. 146 - correction :  fourth line from the bottom 'spectacularly' should be 'speculatively' [what mortification!]


p.148 - correction - the directions in the original text are a real mess;  blame my trusted informant!  4 lines up, insert new paragraph after last full paragraph.

Immediately to your left, westwards, is the 'precipice'.  Go round its head, via Trevessa do Pico, leading to Caminho do Pico (best with thick-soled shoes) and you come to what was Quinta do Monte, or Mount House.   The original was built in the 1820s by the merchant David Webster Gordon and his gardener wife Arabella Pollock (d. 1892) and was known as Quinta do Monte or Quinta Gordon.   Katherine Perry wrote rather disparagingly in 1843:

Rode to Mrs Webster Gordon's villa, one of the most noted here.   They say Mrs Gordon spent thirty thousand pounds on it, if so, it had been very ill laid out as it is like all the houses we have seen tumbledown, with neglected tropical trees.  She showed us a South Males tree (she did not know the name) apparently covered with dark leaves, she told us those leaves were not leaves but stems out of which comes a little serrated round leaf from which again appear four little yellow balls.   A most curious tree certainly.  ... We saw camellia trees nearby thirty feet high.   She cannot succeed in raising cuttings from the camellias but has them all from England.

Isabella de Franca was more sympathetic ten years later:

Passing below the Mount Church we took the road by Mr Gordon's quinta, which he has very much improved, having paid a large sum to the Camara for leave to turn the road, which formerly went through his grounds.

Later the property became Quinta Cossart when it was one of the Cossart family's country houses.   Ellen Taylor noticed the improvement in 1881:

In Mr Leland Cossart's beautiful and extensive grounds many rare and curious plants and trees from all parts of the world are to be seen (introduced by Mrs Webster Gordon).   This quinta is celebrated for its beautiful camellias, and Mrs Leland Cossart has some fine Australian treeferns growing in the open air.   The road from this to the church is very pretty, through oak and chestnut woods.


'in 1921' , p. 149 stays as it is;  then the second paragraph should read

More recently, the deteriorating quinta was acquired by the government to form part of Madeira University.   Instead, when we finally visited it in October 2004, we found that it was about to be converted into an ambitious tourist complex - work has begun on the gardens - then its past will be less obvious.


add to the bibliography 'Women's Works':

Hoare, Marjorie, The Quintas of Madeira:  Windows into the Past (Funchal, Francisco Ribeiro, 2004)

Langley, Lee, Distant Music ( London , Vintage, 2002)

p. 168, correction to the spelling of Vieira
Roberts, Jane, Two Years at Sea:  Being the Narrative of a voyage to the Swan River and Van Diemen’s Land ... (London, R. Bentley, 1834)