Visit this award winning family attraction near our own Wareham Forest Lodge Retreat in Dorset
The beautiful Beaulieu Estate is steeped in local history, houses the National Motor Museum and offers endless fun for all the family to enjoy. Located only an hour away from our luxurious Wareham Forest Lodge Retreat, making our destination the ideal place to base yourself while exploring the picturesque Jurassic Coastline.
The Beaulieu Estate has been in the Montagu family for 4 centuries, with a rich history of Britain’s elite, however, there are over 800 years of heritage to be explored at Beaulieu.
The land was originally a royal hunting ground and was owned by the crown, but in 1204 King John gifted the land to the Monks of the Cistercian Order. The monks had Beaulieu Abbey built and it grew in popularity and status over the years, until the 1530’s when Henry VIII launched the now famous Dissolution of the Monasteries. The monks eventually surrendered the Abbey to the crown in 1538, it was then bought by Thomas Wriothersley, the first Earl of Southampton, who destroyed the Abbey on orders from the King.
Thomas Wriothesley is a direct ancestor of the current Montagu family of Beaulieu, with the Grand Palace House and 8000 acre estate being passed down the family line. The house itself was never a residence for the family until 1867, when Lord Henry Scott transformed the Palace House into the beautiful family home you can see today.
The Beaulieu Palace House and gardens were open to the public for the first time in 1952 and it was one of the first ‘stately homes’ in the UK to do so. For the grand opening day, Lord Edward Montagu displayed 5 Veteran cars in the entrance hall, this was the humble beginnings of the National Motor Museum, which grew to the large family attraction it is today via support from the British Motor Society and other enthusiasts.
The Beaulieu Estate is now one of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK and is part of the Visit England tourism board too.
what you can do at Beaulieu
Visit the National Motor Museum to see over 250 cars, from vehicles of pioneering engineering to spectacular Formula 1 race cars and World Speed Record Breakers, all under one roof. Costumed guides will take you on a tour through the Palace House, where you’ll get to see the beautiful Montagu family home. Explore the tranquil grounds and picturesque gardens in the 8000 acres around the estate, where you can marvel at the manicured flower gardens and stroll through the wild Millpond Walk.
During World War II, Beaulieu was used as a finishing school for Special Operations Executive Agents, visit the Secret Army Exhibition and learn all about it (well almost…). Step back further into history as you stroll around the Beaulieu Abbey ruins and learn all about the monks who lived there over 800 years ago through the exhibition.
Top Gear fans will be in their element while wandering around the series’ iconic card from various challenges at the World of Top Gear exhibition, and you can even see the BBC studio in the Enormodrome. Don’t miss the On Screen Cars exhibition, with its ever changing cast of TV and film motors to marvel at.
Beaulieu offers a full calendar of activities all year round, including the Motor Museum Photo Ops, where you can dress up in costumes before jumping in a 1904 Pope-Tribune for a fun photo! The little ones will love the Dipstick Driving Circuit as they (safely) zoom around the small track in the mini motors. The Top Gear Test Track Challenge will test your driving skills with radio controlled cars around the scaled down version of the infamous Top Gear track.
Throughout the year Beaulieu hosts a wide range of events for all the family to enjoy, including the amazing International Autojumble, the F1 Cars: Engineering Challenge exhibition, spooky Paranormal Investigation nights, as well as bonfire and Christmas spectaculars to soak up the festive atmosphere.
The Brabazon Restaurant & Coffee Shop at Beaulieu serves delicious homemade cakes, a wide range of snacks, along with offering a selection of hot food, all to keep you fuelled on your day out.
opening times & prices
Summer Opening Times (26th May to 23rd Sept): 10am – 6pm
Winter Opening Times (24th Sept to 24th May): 10am – 5pm
Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.
Our 2018 annual fees are currently:
With so much on offer at Beaulieu it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular attractions in the UK. Don’t miss out, start planning your family friendly day out and take full advantage of all this historic estate has to offer.
luxurious holidays at wareham forest
Located just over an hour away from the Beaulieu Estate is our own Wareham Forest Lodge Retreat, which focuses on tranquillity, beautiful surroundings and stunning lodge holidays in Dorset.
Our wonderful accommodation includes large open plan living spaces with dining areas, sumptuous sofas and flat screen TV’s, as well as fully fitted kitchens with everything you could need to cook up a storm, including oven, hob, fridge/freezer and even a dishwasher to clean up for you after. Sleep in luxurious comfort with our spectacular beds, then make sure to soak away the daily grind in our glorious bathtubs. We really have thought of everything you could want for a self-catering holiday along the Jurassic Coastline.
Book your holiday escape to Wareham Forest Lodge Retreat today