While Beaulieu may be more famous for its motor museum, Beaulieu Palace House is an attraction in and of itself. My husband and I were excited to attend an after hours event at Beaulieu Palace House, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wessex Section of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts’ Club.
As we drove up the long driveway in my husband’s 1997 Bentley Turbo R, imposing Beaulieu Palace House appeared out of the shadows. Beautifully lit and decorated, the warm interior beckoned us inside.
It was a cold night, and we hurried across the bridge that spans the now-dry moat. The door was opened for us, and we immediately felt heat of the roaring wood fires crackling merrily in the fireplaces. It was like stepping back in time.
Beaulieu Palace House
Beaulieu Palace House was a gift from King Henry VIII to the Montague Family back in 1538. Created from the gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, which dates back to the 13th century, Palace House has been in the family ever since. The house was remodelled extensively in the 1800’s, so is now very much a Victorian country house. The Gothic interior is very grand, but warm greens and reds on the walls make it feel cosy at the same time.
The Christmas decorations are spectacular. Fresh holly adorns the stairs, and one of the Christmas trees is two stories high. You can see the star on top of it behind me.
Exploring Beaulieu Palace House
We were allowed to wander round and explore this beautiful property. There was also a guide, costumed as a Victorian maid, on hand to answer any questions and share facts and anecdotes. Many of the rooms, like the late Edward, Lord Montague’s library below, look as if the occupants had simply stepped out for a few moments.
Displays and exhibits tell the stories of some of the previous occupants of the house. In addition, there is a collection of the innovative and beautiful artwork of Belinda, Lady Montague, Lord Montague’s mother.
There is a Christmas tree in nearly every room, and each of the trees was decorated in a unique style.
This one is decorated in bright reds with Chinese style lanterns. I loved this reception room, with its warm log fire, comfortable chairs and striking artwork.
The Dining Room
Dinner was served in the beautiful dining room with its fan-vaulted ceiling. The room formed part of the original Abbey gatehouse, and dates back to the 13th century.
We dined with Lord and Lady Montague, a lovely couple who are passionate about the history of Beaulieu Palace House and their visitors’ experience of it. This year’s A Victorian Christmas encourages visitors step back in time with crackling log fires, costumed guides, carol singing, visits to the Victorian kitchen and even the chance to watch actors portray a family pantomime rehearsal from years gone by.
The dinner was lovely, with lively, interesting conversation and of course, the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Wessex section of the RREC. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and really piqued my interest in this very historic property. I know my husband will want to visit the National Motor Museum, but for me, it’s Beaulieu Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey that hold the most fascination. I look forward to visiting again soon.
Information About Visiting Beaulieu Palace House
Beaulieu is open every day of the year from 10am, except Christmas Day. A Victorian Christmas takes place at Beaulieu Palace House from 21 December to 1 January (except Christmas Day). A general admission ticket gives you entrance to the National Motor Museum, The World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.