One of the most picturesque places to stop in the New Forest is the village of Beaulieu…
Status: New Forest District, Hampshire, Village, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Mill Dam, Beaulieu River, Beaulieu Castle, National Motoring Museum, New Forest Horses, Georgian High Street, Montagu Arms Hotel etc
Beaulieu is a charming little village, and much like in the rest of the New Forest National Park which surrounds it, you can see the local Horses happily walking wild amongst the locals, in this case grazing by the side of the road.
We had parked up in a Car Park just opposite the pool known as the “Mill Dam”, which I shall explain about later. On the far side of the Dam is the magnificent “Palace House”.
The building dates back centuries, and was originally built as the Gatehouse for Beaulieu Abbey, at the start of the 13th century. The Abbey flourished here until Henry VIII instigated the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538, and the Abbey was abandoned.
Not long after, the Earl of Southampton, Thomas Wriothesley (1505 – 1550) was granted the Abbey Estates by the King, and chose the Gatehouse in which to establish a grand Mansion. The old Abbey Church is now the local Parish Church, and various other areas of the site such as the Chapter House can still be seen, albeit ruinous.
Another important part of the estate is the National Motor Museum, opened in 1952 by Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu (1926 – 2015). His father, John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott Montagu (1866 – 1929) was a notable motoring enthusiast, and not only did he introduce the then King Edward VII (1841 – 1910) to Motoring, but he was also the first person to ever drive a car into the Houses of Parliament’s main yard. Today it contains a variety of attractions, and is one of the New Forest’s Premier Attractions. You can find out more on their official website here.
The village centre of Beaulieu has been completely untouched by modern developments, and retains its own unique charm.
This is a shot looking up the High Street. It contains a large array of Georgian Shops and Houses, as well as the “Montagu Arms hotel” the mock Tudor building to the left.
The main building itself is Georgian, and it superceded a previous Inn from the 16th Century called “The Ship”. What you see today is largely Victorian, as the Inn was rebuilt in 1888. It was completed in the Mock Tudor Style by W H Mitchell (who also made significant contributions to the nearby city of Southampton), and was later extended in 1926.
It’s a stunning building, and gives you a good idea of the architecture which is prevalent throughout Beaulieu, alongside the Georgian Cottages.
Following Palace Lane away from the High Street towards the main gate into Beaulieu Palace, we arrived outside the former “Mill House”.
Completed in the 16th Century, it sits at the Eastern End of the Mill Dam, where a Dam (now used as a road) was created over the Beaulieu River to provide power for the Mill. The River flows underneath it heading East towards the Solent and then the English Channel. The Mill itself was founded by the Abbey Monks, and after centuries of repair it contains stonework from various ages.
On the far side of the Dam is the Gatehouse into the Beaulieu Palace Estate, which is part of the old wall into the Abbey Complex, and the original Outer Gatehouse.
We finished off our trip with a stroll along the Beaulieu River, which as I said earlier flows downstream into the Solent.
Its only obstacle is of course the Mill Dam, constructed out of Stone and Brick, visible over to the right underneath the road.
As the sun began to set, it made for a lovely atmospheric picture…
Along with a final shot out across the Mill Dam Pool which was created when the Dam was completed, and the river backed up, and would have been a vital source of power for the Monks.
Beaulieu was a great place to end the day, it’s out of the way, quiet and very peaceful. Don’t let that put you off though, as there are a number of local roads which lead from Southampton, Lymington etc to help you on your journey.
The following day, we changed tack a bit, and set sail for the Isle of Wight…