Beaulieu (pronounced "byoo-lee", rather than the French way) is a handsome village in the New Forest that is very popular with visitors.
Beaulieu means "beautiful place" in French, and from 1204 was home to a Cistercian abbey. The village has been owned by the Montagu family since the dissolution of Beaulieu Abbey, and they have followed a policy of developing the tourist potential of the village, resulting in a mixture of attractions from the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. The village itself is very attractive, clustering around the mill pond and the tidal headwaters of the Beaulieu River. Keep an eye open for the ponies and donkeys which can often be found congregating in the village's main street.
Beaulieu is in the south of England, in the New Forest between Bournemouth and Southampton, with easy access from London and the Home Counties.
M27 exit junction 2, follow the brown and white tourist signs towards Beaulieu.
Sat nav postcode is SO42 7ZN, however please follow brown signage when in vicinity.
For up-to-date travel information, you can visit Traveline.
Cyclists who arrive at Beaulieu by pedal power get 20% off standard admission.
By public transport
There are limited bus services to Beaulieu. Morebus route 112 links the area to Lymington, but services are not timed conveniently for people visiting the attractions. In high summer season, it is possible to use the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing buses of the New Forest Tour Green Route, which operates on a circular route linking the attractions with Lymington, Brockenhurst, and Beaulieu Road railway station.
There is a one-mile long monorail loop within the Beaulieu site, linking the car park, motor museum and palace gardens. The fare is included in the site entrance charge.
Pushchairs and wheelchairs
Pathways suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs join all the sites within the Beaulieu attraction, however, some of the garden and riverside paths are constructed of hoggin and/or gravel. Rallies and events held in the Beaulieu Parkland are staged on grass, generally accessible from gravel or hoggin roadways. There are free wheelchairs and electric scooters. It is advisable to book these in advance by calling +44 1590 614646.
The National Motor Museum has three floor levels with access available to all through ramps and lifts.
The lower level of Palace House is accessible to wheelchair users, but not pushchairs, but there is no lift to the upper floor. There is however a visual guide to the upstairs rooms and staff will be happy to show you this on your visit.
Visitors with dogs
Dogs are welcomed at Beaulieu and are permitted within the grounds, but must be on a lead. Owners are also asked to ensure that no mess is left within the grounds where it will be offensive to others. Scoops for disposal of mess are available free of charge - available from Visitor Reception.
Dogs are not allowed inside the National Motor Museum, Palace House, Abbey, Brabazon Restaurant, or on any of the rides. There is a special area available beneath the Motor Museum entrance where your dog may be left whilst you visit the Motor Museum.
The RSPCA advise against leaving dogs and other animals in cars. However, if you consider that weather conditions permit you to do so, please ensure that there is adequate ventilation at all times, while still maintaining your vehicle's security. Pass-outs are available from Visitor Reception allowing you to check, at any time during your visit, that your dog is not in any distress.
- Beaulieu Trust, ☏ . May-Sep: daily 10AM-6PM; Oct-Apr: daily 10AM-5PM.. The inclusive admission price covers entrance to the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Gardens, Beaulieu Abbey, World of Top Gear
- 1 Beaulieu Abbey. Beaulieu Abbey was a Cistercian abbey, founded in 1204 by King John and was occupied by 30 monks. The abbey's buildings were of a scale and magnificence reflecting its status as an important royal foundation and it took more than four decades to complete. Beaulieu became a recourse for fugitives, among these was Perkin Warbeck who fled to Beaulieu from the pursuing armies of Henry VII. After the Dissolution of the Monastery in 1538, there was much competition to gain ownership of Beaulieu abbey and its estates, but eventually Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton. As soon as he took over, Wriothesley set about building himself a house on the site, for this he demolished the church. Today, although a great deal was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution, there is still much to see. The ground plan of the 102-m-long church can be seen on the lawns. The Domus, once the lay brothers' refectory now houses an exhibition of monastic life. Visitors can view a series of embroidered wall hangings made by Belinda, Lady Montagu, depicting scenes from mediaeval monastic life and the history of the abbey.
- 2 Beaulieu Palace House and Gardens. Beaulieu Palace House was built in the 13th century as the Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey and has been the ancestral home of a branch of the Montagu family since 1538. 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 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. Today in Palace House, history comes alive with real Victorian characters to give a fascinating insight into the workings of a Victorian household.
- 3 National Motor Museum. The National Motor Museum was founded in 1952, at first the museum consisted of just five cars and a small collection of automobilia displayed in the front hall of Palace House, but such was the popularity of this small display that the collection soon outgrew its home. In 1972 the name was changed to the National Motor Museum, reflecting a change of status from a private collection to a charitable trust. Today, around 250 of the most historically important motor vehicles to have been produced since the late-19th century are on display.
- 4 Buckler's Hard (SO42 7XB), ☏ . Easter-Sep: daily 10AM-5PM; Oct-Easter: daily 10AM-4PM. Email via online contact form. With its Georgian cottages running down to the river, Buckler's Hard is a very pretty 18th century village on the Beaulieu Estate. During the Napoleonic Wars, with Britain's urgent need for ships and the New Forest's abundant supply of oak, the village became a major shipbuilding centre under Master Henry Adams. Many warships, including HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and Nelson's HMS Agamemnon (all of which fought at Trafalgar), were built on the slips at the foot of the village street. The industry declined in the 19th-century and today has a maritime museum, and a modern yachting marina. Adult £7.50, senior £7, child £5.20; discounts for booking online.
- 1 Queensmead Village Shop, High St. Newsagents and sweet shop, selling loose sweets weighed out from a jar.
- 2 Beaulieu Fine Arts, High St. commercial art gallery.
- 1 Steff's Kitchen (Fairweather's Garden Centre), High Street, SO42 7YB. Daily 9AM-5PM. Café in a garden centre, with hot food at lunch times.
- 1 Montagu Arms Hotel, Palace Lane, Beaulieu SO42 7ZL, ☏ . 22-room hotel in Arts & Crafts style, great comfort and service. Good upscale dining at Terrace Restaurant, bar food at Monty's Inn. Assistance dogs only. B&B double from £220.
- 2 Master Builder's, Buckler's Hard, Beaulieu SO42 7XB, ☏ . Pleasant riverside hotel with nautical theme. Upscale dining in Riverview Restaurant, bar food in Yachtsman's Bar. B&B double £140.