About Beaulieu Palace House
Beaulieu Palace House is a 13th-century house in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. It has been described as one of the few “Treasure Houses of England”.
Beaulieu Palace House history
Beaulieu Palace House was originally built in the 13th century as the gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey – built on land given by King John for Cistercian monks. 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, the 4th Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
In this period, many of the structures, including the Abbey Church, Chapter House and Cloister, were demolished – stones and lead from the Abbey are believed to have been re-used in the construction of Cowes, Calshot and Hurst Castles.
From 1606 to 1632 the Beaulieu estate was used mainly as a hunting centre visited by James I and subsequently by Charles I whilst from 1632 to 1714 the buildings were little used by their owners.
But between 1714 and 1721, John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu, spent over £2,000, a vast sum in those days, on improvements to the house and grounds, and in 1724 piped water was laid on to the house.
The greatest changes to the house were instigated by Henry, later 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, who received the estate in 1865 as a wedding present and with his new bride, made Palace House their permanent home. The building was greatly altered and enlarged, the medieval parts were restored and what has been described as ‘little more than an elaborate hunting lodge’ became a substantial family home.
Palace House and the abbey remains were first opened regularly to the public by Edward, Lord Montagu in 1952. Displaying one’s stately home to the public was not a new idea at this time and curious visitors had already been peering into England’s grand houses for a couple of centuries. But the idea of creating a professional business venture was unheard of until this point.
Beaulieu Palace House today
Today, of course, the Beaulieu complex is popular with visitors from all over the world. There are numerous sites to see around the complex including the National Motor Museum, the Grounds and Gardens, the remains of Beaulieu Abbey and The World of Top Gear amongst others.
The Palace House itself, bristling with character and adorned with family treasures, portraits, and memorabilia, offers numerous exhibitions and hosts various events throughout the year.
Visitors can marvel at Edward, Lord Montagu’s personal library, discover the remarkable story of two women (Pearl Pleydell-Bouverie and Elizabeth Montagu) in a fantasically laid out exhibtion, or take a tour round a restored Victorian Kitchen.
Getting to Beaulieu Palace House
Beaulieu is in the heart of the New Forest National Park, not too far from cities of Southampton, Bournemouth, Winchester and Portsmouth.
If travelling by car, take Junction 2 of the M27 and follow the brown and white tourist signs to Beaulieu and our visitor entrance. Free parking is available in the designated parking lots.
If travelling via public transport, customers can receive a 20% discount on admission by presenting their bus ticket or train ticket at the vistor reception. Brockenhurst is the nearest train station to Beaulieu Palace House. The bus company ‘morebus’ have a limited service between Hythe and Lymington which only runs on Tuesday and Thursday.