National Motor Museum

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Museum EntranceThe National Motor Museum is one of the major attractions in the New Forest. Situated in the grounds of Beaulieu Palace and Abbey, home of the Montagu family, the museum was set up in 1952 by the present Lord Montagu as a tribute to his father who was one of Britain’s early motoring pioneers.

The present museum building was opened in 1972 and tells the history of motoring in the UK from the 1890’s to the present day and includes several famous world record breaking cars. The museum has now acquired over 300 vehicles including motorcycles, many of which are maintained in working order and participate in vintage and veteran rallies. The exhibits are imaginatively displayed and includes a reconstruction of 1938 garage with period equipment.

For the motor enthusiast, a visit is a must to see the wide range of vehicles on display, some of which can be seen in the following slideshow.

There are extensive well manicured grounds around the museum with other several other attractions which are served by a monorail and a veteran London bus for those whose feet are feeling too weary to stroll around the attractive lawns and gardens.

Beaulieu GardensYour inclusive ticket also gives entrance to the Palace House where you will be guided around by butlers and maids in period costume who tell you the history of the Montagu family and the long history of the settlement at Beaulieu which dates back to 1204 when it was gifted to Cistercian monks by King John. The Abbey, which is also within the museum complex, was dissolved by Henry VIII but the remains are still clearly visible for what was once the largest Cistercian building in England. The Domus (lay brothers’ dormitory) has been tastefully restored and houses an exhibition of life in Cistercian times.

A recent addition to the complex is an exhibition of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) whose agents operated behind enemy lines during the Second World War. The Beaulieu Estate was home to the top secret SOE “Finishing School” during the war and its existence was only made public decades after the end of the war.

Overall, your entrance ticket will ensure a full day’s entertainment for all the family. If you gift aid the admission price, you can revisit all the attractions during the following week plus as many visits as you like to the Motor Museum only over the following year.