Mary Cornelius-Reid loved visiting Portugal and had a holiday home in the Algarve

As she expanded her property portfolio in the UK, she decided to add a retirement village in this sun-drenched region of southern Europe which she felt such affinity for.

She found a derelict Portuguese quinta with stables and 22 acres of land in the tranquil hills of Gorjoes and set about creating a stunning retirement village inspired by the ancient village of Alte, with traditional calcada cobblestone streets, mellow Portuguese stone walls, and 33 terracotta tiled villas, town houses and apartments.

The quinta was converted into a 16-room care home with qualified nurses and 24-hour nursing assistance.

Mrs Cornelius-Reid A.M. M.B.E. also had a church built on the old corn grinding circle, which she gifted to the community. The only consecrated Anglican church in the Algarve, St Luke’s holds regular services, concerts and fund-raising events and wedding blessings.

The first retirement village in the Algarve, both Monte da Palhagueira and its church were opened by Sir Cliff Richard in 1999.

Amesbury Abbey Group

Monte da Palhagueira is part of the British-run Amesbury Abbey Group

Founded in 1972 by Mary Cornelius-Reid A.M. M.B.E., the group has been owned and run by the family for over 50 years.

The Amesbury Abbey Group offers you the chance to live life as you always have, as independently as possible in stunning locations with like-minded people, with a host of thoughtful touches that make everyone feel part of the same family.

At the heart of the group today are Naomi, Rosemary and David Cornelius-Reid, who also look after their two luxury retirement properties in the UK: Amesbury Abbey in Wiltshire and Sutton Manor in Hampshire.

Each location offers a range of premium accommodation for the over-55s in the grounds of beautiful mansion and country houses, which also offer exceptional nursing care.

Key People

Alexandre Duran Neves 

General Manager 

Alexandre is a bilingual Portuguese national with an international background, having lived in the Middle East while undertaking part of his education abroad and sitting his postgraduate component in England. Alexandre brings a wealth of experience to his role as General Manager, with responsibility for overseeing both the nursing home and independent living components of the village. His management expertise and broad ranging skill set complements the abilities of our other key staff members, ensuring that this very special community in the Algarve is maintained to the highest of standards. 


Denise Sousa

Home Administrator 

A fluent English speaker, Denise works closely with Alexandre to ensure the smooth running of Monte da Palhagueira, so that everything and everyone is taken care of. 


Monte da Palhagueira, which recaptures the charm and romance of the ancient village of Alte, won The Homes Overseas’ Best Retirement Development (joint Gold) and The Homes Overseas’ Readers’ Choice Award (Gold) in 2005.


My first impression of Monte da Palhagueira Village was that it was Portmeirion in a much warmer climate, a beautiful village nestling on the south west slopes of gently rising hills, in the sunny Algarve. 

Our home has stunning views over the countryside with glimpses of the sea in the distance. The interior is equally attractive with a rather nice flavour of Portugal. 

At a practical level, our two bedrooms are both en-suite, and all essential facilities are provided. The bedrooms and reception areas are air-conditioned, all windows and doors to the outside have fly screens, and the generous balcony has a large awning to shelter from the hot mid-day sun. So comfort is well provided for. 

The installed electrical equipment is maintained (air-conditioning, fridge-freezer, cooker, washing machine), as is the external building within the agreement, which is a source of comfort. The maid who comes in for two hours twice a week is the icing on the cake. 

For someone who does not enjoy the best of health, the fact that there is a nursing home in the village is the best news yet. In our first eighteen months of residence we have twice had to call for help out of hours, in addition to seeking advice on a number of occasions. Such peace of mind – especially when, on one occasion, the doctor came out at 9.30pm, before he went on holiday early next morning! 

The staff provide discreet, very friendly support – when we are unloading the car with the shopping, the gardeners seem to emerge from nowhere and insist on carrying the bags indoors. This epitomises the atmosphere here at the village, friendly and unobtrusive assistance from all the staff. 

In short Monte da Palhagueira is a very attractive retirement village, in a pleasant warm climate with lots of sunshine. The staff are supportive, the facilities excellent, and there is a comforting feeling of security. It is my Shangri-La. 



My wife Margaret was recently a resident in the Nursing Home and I write to advise you that the respect, care and love shown to her could not be bettered.

I am sure that somewhere in your mission statement it says that to provide all of those attributes would be your purpose and ambition.

Of course a mission statement is meaningless without delivery and in this respect the Management Team – Alexandre, Hazel and Debbie have clearly instilled these principles in the whole staff and obviously, continually monitor that they are being maintained.

A magnificent effort by all. 



We have had a house at Monte da Palhagueira for four years now and find ourselves spending more and more of the year here. We are great admirers of Mary’s concept and leadership and our experience at ‘M d P’ has proved to be pure joy.

Wherever we are in your organisation the staff seem hand-picked for their happy and helpful disposition. The team at ‘M d P’ are great. One can hardly request anything at administration that cannot be dealt with. Everyone is cheerful and the maintenance, grounds, housekeeping and general duties are all performed by people who become your friends.

The towns and countryside around the village are fantastic too; there is so much to get involved with, explore and enjoy. However, it is ‘M d P’s pristine pool in its floral setting, the informal ways of the small roads and quiet places that give a wonderful sense of calm and repose which we love to return to. Monte da Palhagueira is good for the soul and we cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a slice of paradise. 



My husband and I retired to Portugal in 1986. We built a villa in the foothills near Loule and had an idyllic 15 years there. When he died suddenly I was left alone to make a decision as to the rest of my life. We had been to Monte da Palhagueira with a view to going there when our large house, garden and swimming pool became too much for us; I followed our plan. We had loved Portugal since moving here and it really felt like home. Although our family all offered me a home, one son in Germany, one in the USA and a daughter in England, I felt I wanted to stay in Portugal, keeping my independence while I was physically fit.

I wanted to live surrounded by a lovely garden, but no gardening to do; have the use of a swimming pool without having to clean it and have a reasonably secluded apartment but with help on hand if I wanted it. Monte da Palhagueira provided all of this. After living here for years I know that I made the right decision. All of the staff, without exception, are so friendly and helpful. Debbie and Clive, the administrators, are always cheerful and nothing is too much trouble for them. Although I am reasonably fit for my age, it is always reassuring to know the nursing sisters are always on hand and I have my emergency buzzer in case I need to get hold of them in a hurry.

When asked if I’m happy here I always say, “I am as happy here as I would be anywhere now that I am alone”. What the future holds no one knows, but I do know that Cornelius-Reid family has provided a much-needed haven for us; thank you. 


Monte da Palhagueira is good for the soul and we cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a slice of paradise.

Get in touch

Please call us to chat about living at Monte da Palhagueira - we'd love to welcome you and your family for afternoon tea.