The villa was built in 1900 by Jorge O’Neill, of Royal Irish descent and was known as the Tower of Saint Sebastião. He sold it in 1910 to the Count and Countess Castro de Guimarães who made various changes to the original house, adapting it to their own requirements. The Count and Countess had no heirs and when the Count died in 1927, at the age of 69, he bequeathed the house as well as the contents which included his collection of books, objets d’art, silver and furniture to the Cascais Municipal Council, ‘to be used as a museum and public library’. The museum opened in 1930.
To the right of the entrance is the chapel of Saint Sebastian, a 17th century chapel lined with tiles depicting the life of the saint. Weddings and baptisms are held here and every Sunday there is an English Mass by the Dominican fathers. In the garden is a statue by Joseph Bernard ‘Woman Dancing With Child’ (1866). A kiosk in the gardens overlooking the ponds serves light meals and snacks. Tables are put outside on warmer days.
The Museum has several rooms on two floors. Portraits in oil of the Count and Countess (1904) by Victor Mateus Corcos greet you in the Yellow Room or Clover Room so called by the Irish clover leaves. Lined with azulejos (tiles), the room also has a portrait of Queen Amélia de Bragança (1905). The coat of arms of the Counts ancestors are painted on the ceiling in the Red Room also known as the Music Room. The Library houses a collection of books mainly on Portuguese history. An important treasure of the museum is the 16th century Chronical of King Afonso Henriques by Duarte Galvão, with an illustration of Lisbon. The dining room has two large 18th century vases bearing the Sobral family coat of arms. Display cases in the study hold Sevres pieces, glassware and fans from the 18th and 19th century. Displayed on the bedroom walls are rugs from the orient. The former Dressing Room, now the José de Figueiredo Room, has exhibits of Engish engravings. The Cabinets Room contains heavy wooden cabinets of Indo-Portuguese style from the 17th century. Classical music concerts are held here throughout the year.
Visits to the Museum are by guided tours. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.