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Beaulieu, Hampshire – National Motor Museum and more

By Sarah Frost – 26th July 2020
What I loved about Beaulieu:

It’s so much more than home to the National Motor Museum so you can easily spend all day there. There’s something for everyone.

Worth paying a babysitter?

Perfect for a family day out.


To be surprised about how much there is to explore. A variety of attractions from the Top Gear exhibition, to the medieval abbey. It’s perfect for car enthusiasts and families, but also for history fans or just anyone who wants an interesting day out.

Value for money:

Definitely 10/10

Setting the scene: 

Beaulieu is nestled at the south of the New Forest, just around the corner from Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway (read my blog here). I visited with family at the beginning of July when it was partially reopened, but at the time of writing, all of the attractions have opened. I’ll share the details of my visit, but I will need to go back to see the Motor Museum, famous monorail, and brand-new playground Little Beaulieu for a full experience.


You do need to pre-book, but it was easy to do so on their website. At the time of writing, they were limited to 500 visitors a day, and there are discounted tickets available if you visit after 3pm. I booked the first slot of the day and so the large car park was empty on arrival. The entrance was clearly marked and there was plenty of hand sanitiser available, as seems to be the norm now. The main restaurant and toilets are fairly near the entrance.


They’d prepared paper maps with lots of information on which were really useful. The motor museum was closed at the time, but there were a few vehicles parked out the front for us to see. Helen was there to greet us, and she gave a fantastic welcome and provided us with a friendly explanation of everywhere that was open on the day.


What to see: 

You can visit the attractions in any order you’d like, but the Top Gear attraction is at the front so we started there. The Dome was closed but there were still lots of exhibits outdoors. If you’ve seen any of the Top Gear series then you’ll likely recognise old favourites like the Robin Reliant Space Shuttle from Series 9 or the indestructible Toyota Hilux from Series 3. It was good to see it’s kept up to date as there were vehicles from the most recent series too.


Next, we walked up to Beaulieu Abbey which was founded by King John in the 13th Century. It’s now a conserved ruin, thanks to Henry VIII destroying it in 1538! We wandered around the ruins taking in the scents from the herb borders which were once used by the monks for medicine and cooking. This was a perfect time to pop back to the car for the picnic and you’ll find several picnic tables around as well as plenty of space for blankets.


After lunch, we walked through the Victorian flower garden where there is a fantastic Alice and Wonderland topiary display. There’s also a Love-lock tree where visitors can leave a padlock to ‘lock their love away’. Next door is the Victorian kitchen garden which was brimming with fruit, vegetables and flowers. If anything, there was too much which was ready to pick so it might have been a good idea to offer some of the produce to the few visitors there were in early July.


Following on through the gardens brings you to the Palace House itself which has been the family home of the Montagu family since 1538. Although it was closed at the time, Lord Montagu had allowed access to the private gardens and had some of his favourite vehicles from his personal collection on display. Once you leave the House, you are near the beginning of the Millpond Walk. There is an Accessible version, and also a more narrow, muddier version but either way you’ll be able to look out for the elaborate tree carvings on your way round to the beginning of the attraction.


What we missed:

The rest of the attractions are open now so you can also go into the National Motor Museum which holds over 280 vehicles including F1 cars and land speed record holders. There is currently an extra exhibition of Toys of your Childhood. In the Palace House during the school holidays, you’re able to visit the restored Victorian kitchen and get involved with demonstrations. Little Beaulieu is the brand-new adventure playground which opens on Monday 27th July just in time for school holidays. Children will love the magical wooden palace and climbing wall, I’m just jealous that I couldn’t try it out! Children will also love the birds-eye view from the monorail which is a mile long and the oldest one in England. It has two stations so can save little legs throughout the day as well.


Beaulieu also runs regular rally days e.g. Simply Jaguar so take a look at their events calendar and see if there are any which take your fancy.


Overall, we spent about 4 and a half hours there, including our picnic time. It was a fantastic day out, it was so easy to keep to social distancing and everything was spotless. It makes the perfect family day out, for people of any age as there is such a variety of attractions.


For more information visit:  https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/




Sarah x


This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!


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