Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Beaulieu Abbey Plus.

40.1 Miles. Now at Setley Ridge Vineyard in the New Forest


As the distance to our next camp site wasn’t that great we had plenty of time for some sight seeing en route today. What we found to be en route was Beaulieu Abbey and the National Car Museum which in my childhood days was Montagu’s Motor Museum. At this place there is parking designated for motorhomes so no problems on that score.

Monorail travel around Beaulieu estate.Monorail travel around Beaulieu estate.

Entering the New Forest national park was interesting having to drive over a cattle stop and then finding mile after mile of Gorse, a real curse in New Zealand as it grows far better over there than in Britain. Wild horse’s, cattle and donkeys all roaming free. We even spotted a donkey foal whose ears looked all out of proportion to the rest of it’s body.

Very grunty copy of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the National Car Museum Beaulieu.Very grunty copy of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the National Car Museum Beaulieu.

There is plenty to see and do at Beaulieu with the Abbey ruins where you can read about the lives of the Cistercian Monks who founded Beaulieu and Palace house where part of the Montagu family home (since 1538) is open to the public. Along with these are the Victorian flower and ornamental kitchen (vegetables) gardens. To get around the large grounds you have the option of the Monorail with 2 stations or the circa 1920 veteran open top bus.

Latest attraction at Beaulieu.Latest attraction at Beaulieu.

For the petrol heads there is the National Car Museum with over 250 exhibits some of which are very rare or even one offs. The current special exhibit for this year is Feats of Endurance vehicles like the 1978 Austin Mini Clubman driven around the world twice towing a trailer or the two motorcycles which were ridden around the world in some very inhospitable places.

Twice around the world. 70,000 kms plus.Twice around the world. 70,000 kms plus.

Among the rarities were a miniature caravan presented to Prince Charles and Princess Anne by the Caravan Club when they were children, a 1930 miniature car which toured school’s teaching children the road rules of the time and even a Rolls Royce that was fitted to tow gang mowers around to mow the grounds of parks in Somerset during WWII.

IMG_1392Not many children would have a playhouse as a true to life caravan.

Another special exhibit is the World of Top Gear where vehicles were modified or driven to destruction by Jeremy, Richard and James. There is also a visual display where the guys take you behind the scenes to show how the programmes were made. Some of the tricks they got up to and stunts they pulled are hilarious but it came at a hefty price of around £2m but I suppose that’s television programme production.

The Domus and Monastic life exhibition at Beaulieu Abbey. Private residence upstairs.The Domus and Monastic life exhibition at Beaulieu Abbey. Private residence upstairs.

Palace House, Home to the Montagu family since 1538.Palace House, Home to the Montagu family since 1538.

One special feature which has been a hidden secret for 50 years or more is the “Secret Army” exhibition. During 1940-42 Beaulieu was taken over by MOD Special Operations groups who trained over 3000 people to be real life special agents like 007 James Bond. Apparently there was at least one New Zealander trained at Beaulieu. They were flown in behind enemy lines to help the French and Belgium resistance movements and gain information for the Allied forces. Many were killed or imprisoned but without their help WWII may have had a different outcome.

Mill Pond at Palace House.Mill Pond at Palace House.

One form of transport around Beaulieu Abbey.One form of transport around Beaulieu Abbey.

A total of 1159 miles, since 5 March 2011

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