Beaulieu is an area unlike almost any other in the United Kingdom. For a small village on the edge of the New Forest, it boasts an impressive amount of tourist activities, yet remains largely unspoiled by the tourist traffic running through its streets each year. Beaulieu is certainly one of the places not to be missed on any trip to England.
The first stop for many visitors will be Beaulieu Abbey, built in 1204 by a group of Cistercian monks. This peaceful and quaint attraction will be a delight for anyone interested in history, monasteries, art, and even ghosts. Here you can view exhibits on what life was like for a monk hundreds of years ago. You can learn all about the history of the Abbey and the monks who founded and cared for it.
A lovely collection of embroidered wall hangings can be found in Beaulieu Abbey. They tell the story of the Abbey in pictures, beginning with the frightening dream that King John had one night which led him to gift the land to the Cistercian monks.
Ghost lovers will also be pleased to know that Beaulieu Abbey is said to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. Ghost monks, the Grey Lady, and phantom whiffs of incense are all said to be a part of the experience at Beaulieu Abbey.
The Palace House
The Palace House was once a part of Beaulieu Abbey, but since 1538 has been in the ownership of the Montagu family. Although it is currently occupied, tours are given of this incredible historic house. The best part of the tour may be the “living history staff,” who remain in Victorian character for guests and who provide a glimpse into what life was like in Victorian society.
Lord Montagu’s love of military history led him to establish an exhibit which details the role of Beaulieu in the training of World War II “Secret Army” soldiers. The exhibit shows how the village played a vital role in the outcome of the war.
The National Motor Museum
No trip to Beaulieu would be complete without a visit to the National Motor Museum. Even if you aren’t a car enthusiast, you’ll have no choice but to be entertained and fascinated by the unbelievable collection of some 250 cars. From early models to current models, the exhibit is certainly impressive.
A rotating collection of cars used in films and on television is a very popular part of the National Motor Museum. Included in this part of the museum is a section devoted entirely to cars used in James Bond films. Bond fans will remember each car fondly as they get a close-up view of these beautiful machines.
In addition to the cars on display, you can get a look at automobile accessories, road signs, and various other parts of car culture that have sprung up over the years as a result of the automobile’s popularity. There is also a vast collection of historical information about the trials faced by Britain as it switched from horse-drawn transportation to motorized transportation.
Just for Kids
Don’t think that Beaulieu is all about history and grown-up endeavors, though! There are plenty of activities to be found for the young and the young at heart. You can zip around on Britain’s first monorail and see all of the sights from high above. Or ride around Beaulieu on a retired London bus to give your feet a rest while you enjoy the beauty of this idyllic village. You can even treat the entire family to a go-kart ride – provided you have enough energy after seeing all of the sights!
Beaulieu is one of those English attractions that aren’t well known to people outside of Britain. However, once you’ve spent a day walking the streets, breathing in the fragrances of the Abbey’s herb garden, and talking to Victorian house employees, you’ll be happy that you made the trip to this incredible village in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.