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Enquiries: General Manager, John Montagu Building, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO4 72N. 0590 612345.

I first came to Beaulieu by boat from Cowes, across the Solent. We were on a trip organised by the school and I can remember, more than fifty years on, rounding the bend in the river and seeing, for the first time, the rows of cottages on either side of the great wide street at Buckler's Hard, and where the trees of the New Forest came to an abrupt halt on the banks of the river. Around the next bend and there was the Palace House, the delicate simplicity of the ruins of the Abbey and the whole of Beaulieu struck me as unbelievably beautiful.

Since those far away days Beaulieu has changed. Some regret its increasing commercialisation, others the loss of its calm serenity, but I think Lord Montagu has achieved something remarkable at Beaulieu: the rural character of the enormous 8,000 acre estate has been largely retained whilst at the same time it now incorporates the finest motor museum in the world, a Maritime Museum at Buckler's Hard and has become one of the most popular day-out destinations in the whole country. Briefly, there are the Palace House and gardens, which has been the family home for four and a half centuries; the Abbey Cloisters and ruins; the National Motor Museum, Transporama, model railway and monorail system; and two miles away Bucklers Hard with its Maritime Museum.

Beaulieu The Abbey and Cloisters

After a disagreement between King John and the English Cistercians was patched up as his 'good deed', the King, in 1201, richly endowed an Abbey for the wealthy and powerful order. Thirty monks came from the mother church at Citeaux to establish the Abbey, and it was dedicated in 1246 by the Bishop of Winchester. The name derives from a royal hunting lodge by the river called Beau Lieu. After the destruction of the dissolution the Gatehouse and the lay brothers' quarters were all that were left intact. The Gatehouse became the Palace House and the refectory was turned into the parish church, which it is to this day. Unusually the parish church is built north to south - the lay brothers' refectory was left undisturbed in its new role as the church for the village. The lovely pulpit was used by the readers whilst the monks ate their food.

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British Rail News 2015

These rights and privileges were resented by some of 'The Town' who rebelled against 'The Gown' and many of those rights were eventually abandoned.

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