Beaulieu isn’t just a village and that’s why we love it. Make sure you put it top of your list for your next visit to the New Forest. The Beaulieu Estate offers something for the whole family, from the idyllic 16th century village high street where the donkeys and New Forest ponies roam freely, to the brilliant dining opportunities and scenic walks along the riverbank.
Beaulieu is also host to the National Motor Museum and wonderful events are held on the grounds all year round. It’s so much more than just a motor museum and there’s lots to explore! Here’s our guide to making the most from your day out in Beaulieu.
Beaulieu, meaning 'beautiful place' in French, is an idyllic ancient honey stone village standing at the tidal limit of the Beaulieu River and remains largely unspoilt. Dating back to the 13th century, the village was built around the Abbey founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks on land given by King John. The dissolution of the monasteries was instigated by Henry VIII in the 1530’s and Beaulieu was passed into the ownership of the present Montagu family ancestors.
Fear not, this tiny sleepy village of outstanding natural beauty has a modern day allure too. A visit to the Michelin-starred Terrace restaurant is a must and charming boutique shops and galleries adorn the little cobbled high street.
We especially recommend a browse of Norris Gifts & Furnishings for chic homeware and the Beaulieu Chocolate Studio for delicious treats. Fairweathers Garden Centre is fab and has a brilliant child-friendly cafe Steffs Kitchen, where you will find the best coffee and cake!
Stunning historical properties are perched along the tranquil riverside, part of the 9,000 acre Beaulieu Estate. Walk a little further along the riverbank out of view of the village and you will encounter scenery that echo’s Wind in the Willows. We highly recommend the scenic Beaulieu To Bucklers Hard walk.
The 18th century shipbuilding village of Bucklers Hard, on the banks of the Beaulieu River, remains beautifully preserved and open to the public, where warships for Nelson’s Navy were built, three of which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. Discover more about the village's history at the Maritime Museum.
Beaulieu National Motor Museum
If you are visiting Beaulieu, you can’t miss the National Motor Museum, where you can see over 280 stunning vehicles on display, from family cars of the 30s and 40s and classic cars of the 70s and 80s through to rare motoring oddities. Included in the day ticket is also access to the Beaulieu Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and the stunning gardens, so there really is something for everyone. The good news is that if you can’t get to see everything in one day – you can return within 6 days for free with a return for free pass.
Special displays include For Britain & For The Hell Of It, featuring Beaulieu’s iconic land speed record cars accompanied by a moving audio-visual presentation telling the story of British land speed record achievements, and The Motorcycle Story, taking you on a journey through motorcycling history.
The children will love Jack Tucker’s Garage recreating the sights, sounds and smells of a typical country garage from the 1930s, while ‘Wheels’, a space age pod ride, is a fascinating voyage through 100 years of motoring.
Our personal favourites are the on-screen cars including the unforgettable Del Boy’s Reliant Regal as featured in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses and Mr Bean’s lime green Mini. Also on display is the flying Ford Anglia, used during the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto Van.
World of Top Gear at Beaulieu Motor Museum
Dads will love the World of Top Gear exhibition, featuring actual vehicles created by presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for some of their most ambitious challenges on the TV show over the years, and experience the Top Gear ‘Enormodrome’ which aims to recreate the feel of the Top Gear studio.
Getting around the grounds
The Monorail is really good way of seeing the park from a birds eye view. There’s also a replica 1912 open-topped London Bus to tour the grounds. Budding drivers can get in the driving seat on Dipstick’s Driving Circuit, whilst younger visitors can burn some energy on the Mini Motor PlayTrail with its Veteran Bus climbing frame, swings and Little Tykes ride-on-cars. Kids are really well catered for at Beaulieu, read more about children activities here.
Beaulieu Palace House
The Palace House is simply beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Home of the Montagu family since 1538, the magnificent rooms, costumed guides, and tales from the butler, cook and housemaids give a fascinating insight into the workings of a Victorian household, showing their life ‘Upstairs and Downstairs’.
Among the rooms you can explore in their original settings are the newly-restored Victorian kitchen and Lord Montagu's library. Palace House is also home to the first dedicated Soviet Russian art gallery in the UK, Art Russe.
We love walking around the 13th century ruins of Beaulieu Abbey, where you get to really take in the historical aspect of the estate. There’s a film presentation and an exhibition of the daily life of its Cistercian Monk founders, leading into the picturesque serenity of the Cloisters and Herb Garden. Upstairs in the Abbey’s Domus, impressive wall hangings depict scenes from the history of the Abbey. Interestingly one of our holiday cottages, The Saddlery, is built from the stone of Beaulieu Abbey.
The Beaulieu grounds offer some beautiful gardens to enjoy including the fragrant Victorian Flower Garden, the informal Wilderness Garden, dating back to the 1770s, and the Ornamental Kitchen Garden laid out on the site of the original 1872 Palace House kitchen garden. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the idyllic pathways beside Beaulieu River and Monks’ Mill Pond, and even add their own padlock to the Love-Lock Tree.
Opening times and Ticket Prices
Opening times: Open every day except Christmas Day, from 10am-6pm between 27th May and 24th Sept, and from 10am-5pm between 25th Sept and 26th May.
Prices: Adults £24.75, children (5-17) £12.50, senior citizens and students £23.75, family tickets (for 2 adults and up to 3 children or 1 adult and up to 4 children) £64. A generous discount is offered on all advance attraction admission tickets purchased online.
How to get there
Travelling to Beaulieu is easy by road, approx. 2 hours from London (M3, M27 West and A326). The nearest train station is Brockenhurst. For sat nav the postcode to follow is SO42 7ZN.
Events at Beaulieu
There’s a whole host of brilliant events hosted throughout the year at Beaulieu, from auto jumbles to motoring meets and a fireworks spectacular. View the events calendar here for more details.
Where to stay in Beaulieu
Whether you plan to stay close by to all of Beaulieu's attractions or perhaps a little further out with views of the river, we have a great selection of Beaulieu cottages for you to choose from. Browse our full collection or call us on 01590 690924 - we’ll happily recommend the best cottage for your requirements.