Montagu Palace (Beaulieu Abbey) & Beaulieu Abbey Church

    Formerly the 14th century Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House is set in glorious grounds and gardens with immaculate spreading lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River. The House has been in Lord Montagu’s family ownership since 1538, when Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later 1st Earl of Southampton, bought the Estate after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

    Lord Henry Scott, the first resident owner of Palace House, extended it in the 1870’s to accommodate his growing family. The architect was Sir Arthur Blomfield and the House you see today is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, medieval Gothic and 18th century fortification styles.

    Our Victorian staff bring Palace House to life …The monastic origins of the House are evident and, once inside, visitors soon succumb to its friendly atmosphere as they view the many splendid and varied family treasures, portraits, photographs and memorabilia.

    Above all, Palace House remains a family home still lived in by the present Lord Montagu and his family and much loved by them.

    What to see

    Beaulieu Abbey was founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks on land given to them by King John. Although much was destroyed at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII, there is still much for visitors to see today.

    The Lay Brothers’ Door. The Domus, once the lay brothers’ refectory, houses an exhibition of monastic life prior to the Abbey’s purchase by Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton in 1538. Visitors can view a series of modern embroidered wall hangings depicting scenes from medieval monastic life and the history of the Abbey since 1204. The Abbey Cloister is a place of tranquillity, planted with fragrant herbs.

    In medieval times, when the Abbey was an important Cistercian monastery, the monks would have provided hospitality to visitors. Indeed, by the 15th century when the monks’ numbers had dwindled, the Domus was adapted to accommodate important guests. That tradition remains today, for the Domus is now regularly used for events, dining and corporate hospitality.

    Beaulie Abbey – The History

    The following are just some of the current Montagu family famous ancestors.

    Sir Thomas Wriothesley (1505-1550)
    Later 1st Earl of Southampton, he was Lord Chancellor and executor of the will of Henry VIII. He worked for Thomas Cromwell and was involved in torture of those who opposed the establishment of new Protestant Church. He was also one of the men who removed the tomb of St Swithun from Winchester Cathedral during the Reformation.

    1st Lord Montagu of Boughton (1562 – 1644)
    An ancestor of Lord Montagu who proposed a Thanksgiving Bill in remembrance of James I’s deliverance from the Gunpowder Plot; said to be the origins of the bonfire the fireworks celebrations on 5 November.

    Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573 – 1624)
    A patron of William Shakespeare and identified by some as the person for whom his famous love sonnets were written. An Elizabethan courtier, who displeased the Queen by secretly marrying without her permission and later conspired to depose her; imprisonment in the Tower of London followed, but he was saved from execution ‘on account of his youthful good looks’ ! The 3rd Earl was also treasurer of the Virginia Company.

    Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu (1638 – 1709)
    Described as ‘as arrant a knave as any in his time’, he was a shrewd political operator, becoming Ambassador to Louis XIV’s Court at Versailles and marrying two heiresses. The second, the sister-in-law of his stepdaughter, was the mad Duchess of Albemarle, who had declared she would only marry royalty; suitably dressed as the Emperor of China, Ralph won her hand.

    John, 2nd Duke of Montagu (1690 – 1749)
    Fascinating, eccentric, generous, visionary, he was a man of varied interests, ranging from antiquities, heraldry and architecture to opera, astronomy and medicine. He gave away a fifth of his income in pensions, tried to establish a free port on the banks of the Beaulieu River, allowed experiments with electricity in his London home and was well known for his practical jokes.

    He extended Palace House and gardens and built Buckler’s Hard. He was also Master of the Ordnance, indeed, many fortifications abroad such as in Gibraltar and the Bahamas are named after him in this role. He was also Governor of the Isle of Wight and of the Tower of London, Privy Councillor, member of Royal College of Physicians and Royal Society. He planted first recorded vineyard on Beaulieu Estate.

    George, Duke of Montagu ( 1712 -1790 )
    He was Governor of Windsor Castle and tutor to Prince of Wales (later George IV) and the Duke of York (of Grand Old Duke fame).

    John, Marquess of Monthermer (1735 – 1770)
    Suffered from ill-health, but still managed to complete a European Grand Tour in the 1750’s, visiting Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, Capri, Sicily and, more unusually, Calabria in Southern Italy. He recommended ‘two pistols in one’s pocket, two in one’s belt, a good sword and a gun on the back’ as essential travellers’ equipment for a journey through this dangerous area.

    Cecily, 1st Lady Montagu of Beaulieu (1835 – 1915)
    A determined, formidable Victorian lady, who had a passion for gardening. She introduced the rhododendron to the Beaulieu Estate. When her arthritis became too bad to walk through the grounds, she drove round in a small carriage pulled by a donkey. Her doctor prescribed cocaine injections, the recommended treatment at the time, for her arthritis.

    Lord Montagu of Boughton’s Cat
    Or is it? The painting has always been known by this title. A recent discovery has revealed that John, Marques of Monthermer had a cat, which he took with him at the start of his Grand Tour. It was reported that ‘Puss is now in the height of bliss, enjoying herself every night before the fire in a little house’ bought for her by Monthermer. Perhaps he also had her picture painted?

    Pearl, 2nd Lady Montagu of Beaulieu and The Hon Mrs Edward Pleydell-Bouverie (1895 – 1996)
    She came to Beaulieu as a 25 year old bride in 1920 and lived here until her death at the age of 101. During that time she had five children, eighteen grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren. She lived in the reigns of two queens and four kings, a lifetime, which saw the first flight of an aeroplane, two World Wars and man’s first steps on the moon.

    Beaulieu Abbey Church

    Hampshire, the home of Lord Montagu’s family since 1538, Gardens and the National Motor Museum with over 250 vehicles.

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