Beaulieu and the National Motor Museum

September 2012

David G. Fox

On Monday after the Goodwood Revival we left Brighton and drove across the south to Hampshire and the Beaulieu estate. We had been there before, but the place is definitely worth additional visits.

The estate was originally the grounds of Beaulieu Abbey. Later, Beaulieu became the home of the Montagu family, who, at various times, has given the land new purpose in terms of service to country and preservation of history. During WWII, Beaulieu provided a highly secret facility for training men and women of the European resistance under the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Today, there are exhibits and programs relating to the Victorian era and the war years, plus the estate is home to the National Motor Museum. Check out (

The National Motor Museum

Perhaps most notable in the museum for a hot rodder are the land speed cars. Among them, Bluebird CN7, piloted by Donald Campbell in 1964 to a record just over 403 mph on Australia's Lake Eyre. The car has turbine-power, four-wheel drive, fully independent suspension, and aircraft-like construction; initial low-speed testing was done on the Goodwood circuit.

Another impressive land speed car is the Golden Arrow. Major Henry Segrave's 23.9 liter W12 Napier powered streamliner set a record for the flying mile at Daytona Beach of 231.45 mph in 1929.

First ever over two-hundred miles per hour.

Also on view at the museum are various Grand Prix examples, more Sunbeam racers, just neat old cars, and more. I listened in on a docent talking about the Lotus 49 of Sir Graham Hill from 1967 (on the left, below). An interesting side note was the docent's statement that the basic Ford engine design used in that car has won more Grand Prix races than any other. He also talked about the weakness of the ZF transmission, and how the later Lotus 49B GP cars faired much better with a new Hewland gearbox. No nationalism there.


The story goes that the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy was modeled after the figure of a special friend of the former Lord Montagu, an early supporter of things automotive, including automotive journalism.

Bond (James Bond) in Motion

What was new at the museum this time was a large display of James Bond movie paraphernalia, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Dr. No. The Aston Martin DB5 shown was a gorgeous restored example, not one of the Goldfinger cars no guns, etc. But there were plenty of actual movie cars and other conveyances, especially from the later era. It turns out they may have been being coy about the restored DB5; it was likely the car featured in Skyfall, which had not been released when the exhibit opened.


The Estate

The Palace House, estate grounds, and remnants of Beaulieu Abbey are interesting reminders of English history. Palace House itself grew (extensively) from the gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey. The room with the blue ceiling originally was part of the passageway through the gatehouse.



We drove from Beaulieu through a portion of the New Forrest to Lyndhurst and one night at the Crown Hotel. This was retracing a few steps from our previous trip to the UK; we stayed at the Crown then, too. It dates in some form to the 1600s under the Crown name and to the 1400s as a coaching inn. New owners are remodeling, and I have to wonder if it will be out of our price range, should we ever go again.

For a car guy, the most interesting feature of Lyndhurst may be the Ferrari/Maserati dealership. This seems a sleepy little town (pop. 3000), but the dealership appears to be going strong, with numerous new cars in stock. The literati will want to visit the yard of the church across the street from the old Crown Hotel and find the grave of Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves. She was born Alice Liddell, and as a youngster was the inspiration for the character Alice in Wonderland.


I should note that a couple of the museum photographs are from our 2006 visit, and a pair of the estate photographs were taken by Mrs. Fox.

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James Bond Exhibit

Beaulieu Estate

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Goodwood Revival, 2012

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