Beaulieu is the most picturesque of the Forest villages located at the head of the tidal section of the Beaulieu River which flows into the Mill Pond in front of Palace House, the home of Lord Montagu and his family, owners of the surrounding 7000 acre Beaulieu Estate. The village dates back to the 13th century and there has been very little new development in the last century or so. As a result, it retains an old world charm and is a place where you regularly find ponies and donkeys ambling through the village, stopping occasionally to look in the shop windows.
Its attractive narrow High Street contains an art gallery and a chocolate studio where you can buy locally hand made chocolate. At the top of the street is Fairweather’s Garden Centre which is well worth a visit as its a little bit different from the average, situated in and around historic buildings. Fairweather’s also have a unique little garden immediately on the other side of the street, called Patrick’s Patch where, with the help of volunteers and local school children, they grow a wide range of vegetables, herbs and flowers which are used in their restaurant. Along the High Street you will also find tea rooms and at the bottom close to the river stands the 17th century Montagu Arms, a boutique country hotel which also boasts an award-winning restaurant.
On the opposite bank of the river across a narrow bridge is the private entrance to the Palace House and grounds whilst by the side of the bridge is the old 16th century Mill House which now provides bed & breakfast accommodation in idyllic surroundings. The Palace House and grounds is also home to the world famous National Motor Museum, the public entrance to which is a few hundred yards outside the village in the direction of Lyndhurst.
Also part of the Beaulieu Estate is nearby Bucklers Hard, just a few miles downstream and well worth a visit with its museum providing the history of this once thriving shipbuilding village that produced ships for Nelson’s fleet. Situated right on the waterside and flanked by two attractive rows of former shipwrights’ cottages it is a busy sailing centre these days. The Master Builder’s Hotel is situated near the waterfront and its Yachtsman’s Bar is popular with tourists and locals. There is a charge for the museum which gives you access to the village. For those who want to leave their cars in Beaulieu, there is a pleasant 4.5 mile easy walk between the two villages.