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

The following edited history is tabled with acknowledgement to History.UK.com ('Largest Independent UK History Archive')

Lord Montagu's family has owned the Beaulieu estate, Hampshire, since the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the Sixteenth century. Today, Lord Montagu opens his home and grounds at Beaulieu to the public. The experience includes access to ancient Abbey ruins, an aristocratic home and an automobile collection.

"Beaulieu was one of the first stately homes in the country to open its doors to visitors and in 2002 celebrated it's 50th anniversary. In all that time, Lord Montagu has been personally involved with developing the modern estate and displaying the wide ranging history readily available here."

The estate stands on the remains of a Cistercian Abbey, founded at the start of the Thirteenth century. Margaret Rowles, public relations officer, said : "We can trace the story of Beaulieu back to when King John gave the land to the monks in 1204. The monastery built here by the Cistercians was of considerable size and importance. It was 336 feet long, that is ten feet longer than Winchester Cathedral."

The monastery was mostly torn down during the Dissolution. Two non-secular buildings remained untouched - the lay brothers' dormitory, known as the Domus, and the priests' refectory which is now the parish church.

In 1538, the year the monastery was dissolved, Henry VIII sold the grounds to Thomas Wriothesley who used the Abbey gatehouse as a hunting lodge. He held estates elsewhere in the county and Beaulieu was not his main base.

Many generations later, in the Eighteenth century, the gatehouse was expanded to become a Victorian country house and has been a family home ever since.

Margaret said: "The estate has been passed down by Wriothesley's descendants, twice through the female line, to the present day.

"The current owner, Lord Montagu, born in 1926, has lived here all his life. When Lord Montagu decided to open his home in 1952, he wanted to give visitors a glimpse of Victorian life in a stately home.

"Palace House has been furnished and styled to appear as it would in 1899."

Lord Montagu then stamped a very personal impression on the Beaulieu experience. He began a motorcar collection in memory of his father who died when he was just two and a half. Lord Montagu's father, John, was a motoring pioneer - the first Englishman to race a British-made car on the Continent.

He also used his influence as an MP to promote the cause of the motorist. He introduced the 1903 Motor Car Bill, which made number plates compulsory and raised the speed limit to 20 miles per hour.

In the 1950s five vehicles were put on display in the front hall of Palace House.

Margaret said: "The collection quickly expanded and outgrew the available space in the house - not to mention making the whole house smell of oil - so in 1956 the vehicles were moved to wooden buildings near the house."

In 1972, the cars were relocated to purpose built accommodation in the grounds and renamed the National Motor Museum.

The collection is administered by a charitable Trust and the estate is open every day except Christmas Day.

A monorail, pictured above and left, is avalable to convey visitors to various places on the estate (see the map above).

Here the train is entering the National Motor Museum - our first 'port of call'.

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