Abbey Part 1

1 : Introduction
2 : Motor Museum
3 : SOE Exhibit
4 : Gardens
5 : Beaulieu Abbey
6 : Palace House
7 : James Bond Exhibit

BEAULIEU ABBEY 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 Latin name of the monastery was Bellus Locus Regis ('The beautiful place of the king').

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, although it was far from the richest English Cistercian house.

Pope Innocent III constituted Beaulieu as 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 also the 23.5 hectare precinct around it that had been 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, ordinary criminals and debtors and also political enemies of the government.

Entrance to the demolished abbey church site (above)


Although a great deal was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, there is still much to see. The ground plan of the 102 metre long church can be seen on the lawns.

1) The Abbey Church (now ruins) See Part 2
2) Domus Conversorum See Part 5
3) Refectory, now Beaulieu Parish Church See Part 4
4) Carrels: Alcoves in the north wall of the Cloister to be seen in the title picture (above).
5) Chapter House, Vestry and Monks' Dormitory (now ruins and cemetery of the Montagu Family) See Part 2
6) The South Transept (now ruins) See Part 3 .
7) Kitchen (now ruins) See Part 3
8) The 'Bookcase' - part of the Cloister wall beside the South Transept. See SOE Page

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