Quinta da Cerca
Quinta da Cerca
Quinta da Cerca is the name by which many came to know the walled property situated to the north of the Monastery of Batalha. which belonged to the Diocesan Seminary of Leiria until 1988.
After the extinction of the religious orders in 1834, Quinta da Cerca, which had belonged to the Monastery of Batalha, was purchased in public auction by José Maria Crespo. Left in his will to his daughter Júlia Charters Crespo, she then gave it to the Diocesan Seminary of Leiria, at the beginning of the 1930s.
Once it became a private property after 1834, the walls linking to the monastic buildings were demolished, closing off the respective perimeter with a new wall which still runs north of the Monastery today, between the building and a car park.
Following centuries of tradition, Quinta da Cerca continues to be made up of cultivated land, vineyards and orchards, besides pine forests and pastures, forming an important part of the income of the Diocesan Seminary of Leiria. The olive press, rebuilt in 1939, according to an inscription that is still visible on its main façade, was modernised with the introduction of two-gauge mills and hydraulic presses. This way, it could keep up with increasing demand from the owners of olive farms in the region.
During the 1970s, the Portuguese way of life would change dramatically. The opening of factories would provide a less harsh living for many families, who would ultimately abandon working in the fields as their main activity. Medium-sized, mixed culture properties such as Quinta da Cerca would begin to face severe hardships – a lack of tenants, a more expensive workforce, and difficulty in controlling production – that would be the beginning of the end. By the start of the 1980s, the olive press, once profitable, would come to a definitive close. In the last productive years of the Quinta da Cerca, the Seminary of Leiria would invest in the production of cattle, believing that this was a way to prolong the survival of this century-old rural landscape here in Estremadura.
In 1988 the Diocesan Seminary would finally sell the Quinta da Cerca to António Gomes Vieira and Sons, Ltd. The majority of the estate was meanwhile acquired by the Municipality of Batalha, which over time added municipal infrastructures: swimming pools, tennis courts, multiuse pavilions, a football field and a sports pavilion. As parts were sold off bit by bit to private buyers, a supermarket and an hotel came to be built there.
The part of Quinta da Cerca situated on the eastern bank of the river Lena, which still preserves a stone weir and important lengths of wall as well the ruins of the olive press and the watermill on the western bank, never changed hands and to this day bears witness to an almost-forgotten past. Other important pieces of the wall can be spotted above the main road which today passes beside the press, as well as on the hillside above towards the IC2 highway.