Beaulieu: A 13th Century Village In The New Forest

In the French language, Beaulieu directly translates as “beautiful place”, and it is easy to see why. Dating back to the 13th-century, this well-preserved village still boasts the honey-coloured stonework and cobbled streets that were built around the Abbey all those years ago.


If you’re looking for the perfect base from which to explore this stunning part of the world, The Bourne Valley Inn is a traditional, welcoming pub and inn with extremely comfortable beds that is near to many of the sights and landmarks of Beaulieu.

Our delicious meals are created with fresh, seasonal produce, and we have plenty of delicious Butcombe beer on tap behind the bar.

Beaulieu Village

Beaulieu is a tiny, picturesque village that is positioned on the south bank of the Beaulieu River.

Although it is one of the smallest villages in the New Forest National Park, it is home to the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey, which are the collective attractions that people are often referring to when visiting the 9,000 acre Beaulieu estate.

Like many of the villages nearby, Beaulieu has many New Forest ponies and donkeys wandering through its streets, which are often a favourite sight for the visitors!

Beaulieu River

Beaulieu River rises near the village of Lyndhurst in the heart of the New Forest National Park and flows south-easterly for 20 kilometres. Originally known as the River Exe, it has been owned outright by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu since 1724.

Once it passes Beaulieu, the river meanders through the famed ship-building hamlet of Bucklers Hard (which we will cover in more detail below) before it flows into the Solent.

Extremely popular with photographers, many visitors choose to walk different stretches of Beaulieu River in search of the various different species of wildlife on display, while admiring their natural habitat.

Bucklers Hard

Located to the south of Beaulieu village is the small hamlet of Bucklers Hard, which is renowned for the shipbuilding that took place here in previous centuries.

Montagu Town (as it was then known) was built by John Montagu, the 2nd Duke of Montagu, in the early part of the 18th-century. The name was changed to Bucklers Hard soon after, with the “hard” part of the name believed to have been given due to the firm banks nearby, making them ideal for launching vessels. The close proximity to the New Forest meant that there would always be a plentiful supply of timber, making it the perfect location for shipbuilding.

Although the shipbuilding industry thrived throughout the 18th-century, it slowed down drastically during the 19th-century. Fast forward to today and Bucklers Hard is frequented by tourists and boasts a state-of-the-art marina, which is home to some of the finest boasts and yachts on the south coast.

National Motor Museum

If you ask people what Beaulieu is, many will undoubtedly know it as the home of the National Motor Museum.

With almost 300 of the world’s finest vehicles on display, it isn’t only car enthusiasts that will enjoy what the National Motor Museum has to offer. From 150 year old steam powered vehicles to cutting-edge exhibitions, there is something for all the ages here to admire. Visitors can explore the authentic workshop from the 1930s, learn about how vehicles have advanced through the years, before taking a sneak peak at how the future of travel might look in years to come.

Exhibitions are held regularly at the National Motor Museum, so we recommend checking their website before you visit.

Beaulieu Palace House

Beaulieu Palace House is part of the Beaulieu estate and is one of the finest country houses in the United Kingdom.

Built in the 13th century and extended in the 16th and 19th centuries, Beaulieu Palace House has been under the ownership of the same family since 1538. To this day, it is the personal residence of Lord and Lady Montagu.

Much of the house is open to the public, with tour guides donning authentic costumes to show visitors around the Victorian Kitchen, Lord Montagu’s Library, Dining Hall and Portrait Gallery, among others. The Beaulieu estate is linked via monorail, allowing visitors ease of access to different areas of the site.

Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu Abbey was commissioned by King John, with construction completed in 1204. Although it descended into disrepair following the dissolution of the monasteries, much of the ruin has been preserved to enable visitors to imagine what once stood here, and what now remains.

Of the buildings that did survive, what was formerly the Choir Monk’s Refectory is now Beaulieu Parish Church, and what was once the lay brothers’ dormitory is now home to the Domus & Monastic Life Exhibition. The former can be visited as long as services or private functions aren’t taking place, while the latter houses a permanent exhibition that tells the story of the Abbey from its beginning through to the present day.

As special events do take place quite frequently, we recommend checking the Beaulieu Abbey website prior to your visit.

Hatchet Pond

Hatchet Pond covers 12 acres of water and is the largest freshwater venue in the whole of the New Forest National Park. Popular with anglers, it also attracts walkers, picnickers and nature lovers.

It is home to some of the rarest species of plants and animals in the United Kingdom and, as such, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation. In total, more than one-third of all wetland plant species can be found here, along with multiple different species of fish and various species of birdlife.

The popularity of Hatchet Pond has proven to be its worst enemy in recent years, with high levels of pollution threatening its existence. We recommend checking Forestry England’s website before your visit for the most up-to-date guidance.

North Solent National Nature Reserve

Covering more than 2,000 acres, North Solent National Nature Reserve is one of the largest nature reserves in Hampshire. It stretches from the New Forest National Park through to the Beaulieu River estuary, providing shelter to both native and migrant birdlife.

Popular with walkers and dog walkers, there are many different routes that can be taken along the coast or inland, with valleys, highlands and heathlands all waiting to be explored. It is also a haven for photographers, eager to capture stills of the aforementioned birdlife, as well as the multitude of animals that can be found within the New Forest.

Directions To The Bourne Valley Inn From Beaulieu

Tucked away in St Mary Bourne near Andover, in the Hampshire countryside, The Bourne Valley Inn is a traditional British pub with a large garden, cosy bedrooms in a contemporary cottage style, and a very warm welcome.

To reach the Bourne Valley Inn from Beaulieu, you must head north on Hatchet Lane and continue for approximately 1 mile before turning right onto North Lane. After a mile, continue onto Beaulieu Road for 2.5 miles, before continuing onto Twiggs Lane.

Turn left onto Marchwood By-Pass (A326) and continue for 2.5 miles before keeping right to stay on A326. Go through 1 roundabout and continue for 1 mile then, at the next roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Fletchwood Road. At the next roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Ringwood Road (A336) before taking the 3rd exit onto the A326 at the next roundabout.

At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on A326 and continue for 1.5 miles. At Ower Interchange, take the 3rd exit onto the M27 slip road to London/Southampton/Winchester/Portsmouth/M3.

Merge onto M27 and continue for 4.5 miles, then use the left 2 lanes to merge onto M3 towards The Midlands/London/Winchester at junction 4 and continue for 10 miles. At junction 9, use the left 2 lanes to exit towards The Midlands/Newbury/A34. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Winchester By-Pass (A34) and then keep left to continue on A34 and continue for 10 miles.

Take the exit towards Overton/B3400/Whitchurch/Tufton and then keep right to continue on Winchester Street. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Bell Street and then continue onto Bloswood Lane. After 1.3 miles, merge onto Harroway, before turning right onto B3048 where you will find the Bourne Valley Inn on the left.