Beaulieu Abbey was a Cistercian abbey located in Hampshire, England. It was founded in 1203–1204 by King John and (uniquely in Britain) peopled by 30 monks sent from the abbey of Cîteaux in France, the mother house of the Cistercian order. The Medieval Latin name of the monastery was Bellus Locus Regis ('The beautiful place of the king') or more verbosely monasterium Belli loci Regis. Two other names of this location are: Bewley (16th century) and Beaulie (17th century). The Abbey is open to the public as part of the visitor attraction known as "Beaulieu", which includes: Beaulieu Abbey; National Motor Museum; Beaulieu Palace House; World of Top Gear; Secret Army Exhibition — an exhibit about the Special Operations Executive training at Beaulieu during World War II; the Gardens; A monorail and Rides.
The first Abbot of Beaulieu was Hugh, a man who stood high in the king's favour and who often served him on important diplomatic missions. He was later to become Bishop of Carlisle. The king granted his new abbey a rich endowment, including numerous manors spread across southern England (particularly in Berkshire), land in the New Forest, corn, large amounts of money, building materials, 120 cows, 12 bulls, a golden chalice, and an annual tun of wine. John's son and successor, King Henry III was equally generous to Beaulieu, with the result that the abbey became very wealthy, though it was far from the richest English Cistercian house. The abbey's buildings were of a scale and magnificence reflecting its status as an important royal foundation. The church was a vast cruciform structure in early gothic style and heavily influenced by French churches of the order, especially those of Cîteaux, Bonport and Clairvaux. The church was 102-metres (335 feet) long and had a semi-circular apse with 11 radiating chapels. The building took more than four decades to complete and was finally dedicated in 1246, in the presence of King Henry III and his queen, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and many prelates and nobles.
South of the church stood a cloister, ranged around which were the chapter house, refectory, kitchens, storehouse and quarters for the monks, lay brothers and the abbot. A separate infirmary complex lay to the east of the main buildings, connected to them by a passage. The abbey was surrounded by workshops, farm buildings, guesthouses, a mill, and extensive gardens and fishponds. Strongly fortified gatehouses controlled entry to the monastic enclosure, which was defended by a wall. A water gate allowed access to ships in the river. Pope Innocent III constituted Beaulieu an "exempt abbey", meaning that the abbot had to answer to no bishop save the Pope himself. Beaulieu was also invested by the same Pope with special privileges of sanctuary, much stronger than usual and covering not only the abbey itself but all the 23.5ha precinct around that had been originally granted by King John. As Beaulieu was the only abbey in its region with such large and strongly enforced sanctuary rights it soon became a recourse of fugitives, both ordinary criminals and debtors and also political enemies of the government. Among these latter were Anne Neville, wife of Warwick the King-maker, after the battle of Barnet (1471). Twenty-six years later Perkin Warbeck fled to Beaulieu from the pursuing armies of Henry VII. Monks from Beaulieu founded four daughter houses, Netley Abbey (1239), Hailes Abbey (1246), Newenham Abbey (1247) and St Mary Graces Abbey (1350).
In 1535 the abbey's income was assessed in the Valor Ecclesiasticus, Henry VIII's great survey of church finances, at £428 gross, £326 net, which meant that it escaped being confiscated under the terms of the first Suppression Act, Henry's initial move in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The last abbot of Beaulieu was Abbot Thomas Stevens, elected in 1536. Stevens was the former abbot of the recently dissolved abbey of Netley, across Southampton Water. Beaulieu managed to survive until April 1538, at which point it was finally forced to surrender to the government. Many of the monks were granted pensions, the abbot receiving 100 marks per year. Abbot Thomas ended his days as treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral. He died in 1550. At the dissolution of the monastery in 1538, the Commissioners for the Dissolution reported to the government that thirty-two sanctuary-men, who were here for debt, felony, or murder, were living in houses in the monastic precincts with their wives and families. When the abbey was dissolved there was some debate about what to do with them, however, in the end it was decided, after pleading by the former abbot and certain government officials, to allow the debtors to live in their houses on the abbey grounds permanently. Pardons were given to some of the criminals too, including one Thomas Jeynes, a murderer.
After Beaulieu fell there was much competition amongst courtiers to gain ownership of the abbey and its valuable estates, but eventually Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, won the struggle and King Henry granted him the abbey itself and 3,441ha of the Beaulieu lands. As soon as he took over, Wriothesley set about building himself a house on the site. He demolished the church, as was common practice but, unusually, instead of converting the buildings around the cloister into a home he chose the great gatehouse as the core of his mansion (compare Wriothesley's other converted monastery at Titchfield Abbey or the conversion of neighbouring Netley Abbey). This survives — much extended — as the modern country house at Beaulieu known as Palace House. Lord Southampton preserved the monks' refectory, which he gave to the people of Beaulieu village to be their parish church, a function it still serves today. The west range of the abbey, known as the Domus was also saved. The rest of the abbey was allowed to fall into ruin.
From the earliest motor carriages to classic family saloons, the National Motor Museum boasts one of the finest collections of cars, motorcycles and motoring memorabilia in the world. With the oldest dating from 1875, the National Motor Museum Trust possesses a collection of 285 vehicles. You can browse the entire vehicle collection on the National Motor Museum Trust website here. In Jack Tuckers garage the visitor can explore a rustic 1930s garage, packed full of artefacts, fixtures, fittings, tools and ephemera from a bygone age.
Other exhibitions include: A Chequered History. Step into the adrenaline-fueled world of motor sport. Grand Prix Greats celebrates the history of F1, whilst Road, Race & Rally focuses on sports cars from rallying, hill-climbing, and the consumer market. The Motorcycle Story. From the early days of motor sport to urban counter-culture, see motorcycles displayed within their historical and cultural context. Wheels. Climb into a pod and take a fascinating audio-visual journey through the history of motoring in this family friendly ride. For Britain & For The Hell Of It. Experience the triumph of British Land Speed record attempts in an inspiring multi-media display. Caravans & Charabancs. A temporary exhibition examining a surprising World War One legacy - the revolution in leisure motoring.
New for 2016, explore the evolution of the motor car in an exciting new display in the National Motor Museum. Ever wondered how engines work? Curious about car safety? Discover how automotive technology has developed since the dawn of motoring. Learn how innovations have changed what goes on underneath the bonnet of your favourite vehicles. Plus find out where technology might take us in the future... How does suspension work? What do gears actually do? Exhibits reveal the workings behind some of the most important motoring technologies. How has an understanding of aerodynamics shaped our cars? What are the advantages of rear-wheel drive? Discover automotive design secrets! Meet Beaulieu's friendly crash test dummy! Push a button to hear him talk about the development of car safety. What does the future hold for automotive design? We look at where alternative power might take the motoring industry...
Now showing at Beaulieu - welcome to the World of Top Gear! If you've ever wondered what happened to the cars that were battered, modified and generally ruined by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond on BBC's Top Gear, they have some excellent news! Because, since not even the dodgiest used car dealers would buy them, we’ve gathered them all together at Beaulieu in the World of Top Gear - a special exhibition in homage to the world's biggest car show. You Visit the Enormodrome which recreates the feel of the Top Gear studio and features specially shot behind-the-scenes footage starring Clarkson, May and Hammond who relive those unforgettable Top Gear TV moments. In the Challenge Gallery, you'll see the challenge cars in the condition they were left after filming - with new ones arriving every series straight from the film set!
Uncover Beaulieu’s history as a top secret training establishment for special agents of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War Two. Over 3,000 SOE agents were trained in the dark arts of warfare at Beaulieu before undertaking daring and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. The Secret Army Exhibition will introduce you to the special agents who answered Winston Churchill’s call to `set Europe ablaze`, join the SOE and work with resistance groups in enemy occupied countries. All were heroes. Many would never return, whilst others faced capture and suffered torture at the hands of the Nazis and their allies. Find out how they trained, what they learned at Beaulieu and how their gallant actions helped ensure Allied victory in World War Two. Real stories of incredible exploits, artefacts and photographs shine a light on this clandestine `finishing school` for SOE agents.
Beaulieu Palace House was originally built in the 13th century as the gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the estate was purchased by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later 1st Earl of Southampton, in 1538. The house passed through marriage into the Montagu family and is still owned by the 1st earl's descendant, Ralph Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 4th Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. The house was extended in the 16th century, and again in the 19th century, and is today a fine example of a Gothic country house. The house overlooks Beaulieu River and is surrounded by lawns and walkways. The inside of the house has been kept in a Victorian style. Although still home to the current Lord and Lady Montagu, parts of the house and gardens are open daily to the public. It is a member of the Treasure Houses of England consortium.
Brand new for 2016, part of the late Lord Montagu's private apartment has been opened to visitors, incorporating two new exhibitions and the chance for visitors to see Lord Montagu's library. With entrance through a false bookshelf door, the library is where Lord Montagu would play his records. If the windows were open, visitors could sometimes hear his favourite music playing across the lawn! Discover the remarkable story of two women in the Montagu family, Pearl Pleydell-Bouverie and Elizabeth Montagu, whose lives give a unique perspective on many significant events of the 20th century. Costumed guides assume the guise of Victorian household staff to illustrate and share the fascinating history of the building, its treasures, its secrets, its staff, and inhabitants - The Montagu family.
They offer free hire of manual wheelchairs and electric scooters, subject to availability. There are 9 manual wheelchairs and 5 electric scooters available. It is advisable to book these in advance by calling 01590 614646 between 9:30am - 6:00pm. Please note that to ensure the safety of visitors, the use of personal customised mobility vehicles is at their discretion. A DVD tour is available to show the upper floors of Palace House, views from the Monorail and the Wheels ride for people who cannot access these areas. Speak to a member of staff for more information. Large print visitor information is available on arrival, or can be downloaded here. There are induction loops in key areas of the attraction, and transcripts available to supplement the content of film and video presentations where these are unavailable. Touch tours of Palace House are also available by prior arrangement.
There are a number of wider parking spaces for Blue Badge holders adjacent to Visitor Reception. There are three sets of disabled toilets across the site. Assistance dogs are welcome and can be used to access all areas of the site, although they are not permitted to ride the Top Gear simulator. Visitors wishing to bring a working dog onto the Monorail should first seek assistance from a member of staff. Travel by train, ferry or bus for all or part of your journey to Beaulieu and they will reward you with 20% off the standard admission. Simply present your travel tickets on arrival, valid on the day of your visit, to claim your discount.
Location : Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire SO42 7ZN
Transport : Brockenhurst (National Rail) then taxi. Bus Routes : 112 (Hythe to Lymington) runs Tuesday Thursday and Saturday stops outside. Ferry : Hythe Ferry then bus
Opening Times : Daily, Summer 10:00 to 18:00; Winter 10:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £19.00 / Disabled £15.00; Children (5 - 17) £9.00; / Disabled £7.90; Seniors £18.00 / Disabled £13.75
Tel. : 01590 612345