In 1538 Sir Thomas Wriothesley (who became the 1st Earl of Southampton) paid a little over £1300 for the 8,000 acre estate at Beaulieu. During monastic times the 'Great Gatehouse' was the place where the abbot received guests, and it was this building that the Earl converted to create the first manor house, known as Palace House.
Few details are known regarding the early history of the house but it would appear that it never became a family residence, its use limited to entertaining hunting parties. When the line of male heirs came to an end in 1667, the first association with the Montagu family was established through marriage. By the close of the 18th century the estate had passed to the Scotts (Dukes of Buccleuch), but Beaulieu Palace House never became a home until 1867. Lord Henry Scott was largely responsible for the major rebuilding work that created the stately home as seen today, taking four years to extend, remodel, and modernise the medieval monastic gatehouse.
This wonderful Victorian Gothic home was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, who managed to combine all the latest comforts of the time almost seamlessly with many of the monastic remains. Fan-vaulted ceilings, moulded archways, enormous traceried windows, and stained glass give Beaulieu Palace House an immortal connection to the Cistercian Abbey that once thrived in these grounds. Externally, it represents an eye-catching arrangement of towers, turrets, chimneys, battlemented features and decorative brickwork.
Lord Montagu and his family still live at Beaulieu Palace House, but in a private apartment in the Victorian wing of the house. All the historic rooms of the house are accessible to visitors, all delightfully furnished, and displaying many of the family treasures and ancestral portraits. This is a real family day out with something for everyone. A splendid house to investigate, beautiful grounds, evocative ruins of the medieval monastery and, of course, the home of the National Motor Museum. Set in the heart of the New Forest, with the Bealieu River running across the estate, the location is idyllic.