Address: 3 Upper Palace Stables, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst SO42 7YL, UK

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Phone: +44 (0) 1590 612345

 

Beaulieu History

Beaulieu Abbey was founded in 1204 and built on land given by King John to Cistercian monks. They called it ‘Bellus Locus Regis’, which means ‘beautiful place of the king’. The abbey took over 40 years to build. 

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 by Henry VIII, many religious buildings were demolished. This was mainly to prevent the resurrection of the facility. Beaulieu Abbey was no exception and down came the Abbey with much of the materials being used to build nearby castles.

The Inner Gatehouse survived and was sold to Sir Thomas Wriothesley, who later became Earl of Southampton. The house thus came into the ownership of the Montagu family and descendants still live there today. The building became today’s ‘Palace House’, with the remains of the ‘Outer Gatehouse’ being visible by the roadside at nearby St Leonards.

Other buildings visible today include the Cellarers Hall, the Cloisters, the Domus and the Parish Church. The latter being the former dining area of the monks.

Whilst nothing remains of the old main abbey building, foundations can be seen today in the lawns near the Palace House. The site of the altar is marked by a topiary plinth topped by a cross.

 

Beaulieu Visit

Beaulieu provides a great day out. It’s the typical stately home, like Chatsworth or Castle Howard, and was designed by famous architect John Vanbrugh.

Beaulieu, pronounced ‘Bew-lee’, is an incredibly interesting place to visit, not least because of the jaw-dropping beauty of the surrounding landscape, as is seen when you drive through the nearby village. When you arrive, there’s the mansion, lake and vast grounds of the estate, but what it’s mainly known for is the incredible motor museum. Motor enthusiasts would be in paradise here, with all manner of vehicles, both old and new on display. There are vintage Rolls Royces and a number of hundred-year-old cars. There are rally cars, racing cars and many vehicles of great significance. These include record breaking supercars like Blue Bird, endurance vehicles and even the film car ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

Other exhibitions include ‘World of Top Gear’, ‘James Bond Experience’ and ‘Secret Army Exhibition’. The latter details the part Beaulieu played in training spies for wartime work. It was recognised as the finishing school for spies and the exhibition shows all manner of items.

The Palace House is fascinating, and it was once the gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey. It now overlooks the Beaulieu River millpond and is a Victorian Country House. The rooms are magnificent and guided tours are available.
 
You can visit relics of old. The Abbey ruins are next to the Palace House and the Parish Church used to be the monks’ refectory. 
 
 There’s a monorail around the site as well as the Mill Pond walk, the Wilderness garden, the Victorian kitchen garden, the Victorian flower garden as well as Alice in Wonderland topiary section.
 
Beaulieu is in the New Forest, near the M27 and it offers free parking. A drive through the village shows you what a special part of the world this is.