A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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'The liberty of Beaulieu', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 650-655. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp650-655 [accessed 29 February 2024]
Bellus Locus Regis (xiii cent.); Bewley (xvi cent.); Beaulie (xvii cent.).
The parish of Beaulieu contains 9,914 acres, which include 2,974 acres of arable land, 2,345 acres of permanent grass and 2,699 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) Denny Lodge, (fn. 2) the northern part of the parish, which was formed into a township in 1868, comprises 10,832 acres. Of these 31 acres are arable, 158 acres permanent grass and 2,947 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 3) Extending over a large area are Beaulieu Heath and the Denny Lodge Walk of the New Forest. The whole parish also includes 95 acres of water, 135 acres of tidal water and 1,157 acres of foreshore. The geological formation consists of the Bagshot and Bracklesham beds in the north and the oligocene series in the south, with alluvial deposits at the mouth of the Beaulieu River, (fn. 4) which winds through the parish and empties itself into the Solent. The chief crops are cereals. The elevation varies from sea level up to nearly 150 ft.
The remains of the abbey and the church stand in a bend of the Beaulieu River. The old gatehouse was fitted up at the Dissolution for the use of Lord Chancellor Wriothesley. It is now known as Palace House, and is still the residence of the lord of the manor. The remains of a wine-press are still to be seen, and brandy was made from grapes grown here as late as the beginning of the 18th century. The village lies immediately south of the site of the monastic buildings across the river, which is here spanned by a bridge. 'The village itself,' says a modern writer, 'with its ancient water-mill, its palace of the Montagus and the Abbey of Beaulieu, a grey ivied ruin, has a distinction above all Hampshire villages, and is unlike all others in its austere beauty and atmosphere of old-world seclusion and quietude.' (fn. 5)
Otterwood, mentioned in Domesday Book, is half a mile east and Penerley 2 miles north-west. Sowley is a hamlet 5½ miles to the south-west of Beaulieu. From the large pond there the abbey fish-ponds were stocked (vide infra). At Bucklers Hard, near the mouth of the river, John second Duke of Montagu, known as 'John the Planter,' projected a town and docks as a depôt for the produce of the island of St. Lucia, then in his possession. The plan, however, came to nothing. In 1894 Lord Montagu of Beaulieu erected a pier there for the use of excursionists.
There are roads running from Beaulieu to Lyndhurst, Lymington and Marchwood, and the site of a Roman road passes through the north-east of the parish.
Beaulieu Road station on the Southampton and Dorchester Railway is 3½ miles north of the village.
The following place-names occur:—'Blekedon' (Black Down) (xiii cent.), (fn. 6) 'Notle,' 'Codelesdon,' 'la Gunildcrofte,' 'la Fermcroft,' 'Colverle' (Culverley) (xiv cent.), (fn. 7) 'Swins'ys,' 'Bromhaies,' 'Mindisherne,' 'Newlandes,' 'Beckheath,' 'Ravensbeake' (xvii cent.). (fn. 8)
In 1205 King John founded Beaulieu Abbey, endowing it with lands in the New Forest, (fn. 9) which remained to it until the Dissolution. In 1220 the abbot and monks obtained permission to mark off their land from the forest with a dyke, (fn. 10) and in 1235 the forest officers were instructed to assign them a carucate of heath in the bailiwick of Richard Foillet, containing 100 acres by the king's perch, to make up 5 carucates, four of which had been assigned to them in another part of the forest. (fn. 11) Such close proximity to the forest must have been a sore temptation to abbots of sporting proclivities, and in 1278 Abbot Dennis obtained pardon—on payment of 40 marks—for making three breaches in Beaulieu Close and placing there stakes and engines for taking deer, as well as for hunting a stag and taking a buck in the forest. (fn. 12) In 1300 the monks had licence to inclose 8 acres of waste of their own soil at Black Down, near Holbury, (fn. 13) and in February 1324 they had a grant to hold 223½ acres of waste land in the south bailiwick of the forest, for which they had received no charter. (fn. 14) These comprised 80½ acres in ' Node,' 22 in 'Codelesdon,' 38 in Otterwood, 25 at 'la Gunildcrofte,' on both sides of the water, 50 at Culverley, and 8 at 'la Fermcroft.' A rent of 4d. an acre was charged, and the abbot and convent were to inclose the land with a small dyke and a low hedge, leaving free ingress and egress from the nearest highway. They were further to claim no common outside this area. (fn. 15) These inclosures were not, however, permitted to be made without protest. The abbot's dykes were filled up, and his hedges and stakes uprooted and burnt. His men went in fear of their lives, and at 'Notle' were so badly beaten that he lost their service for a long time. (fn. 16) The matter had not been settled completely two years later, in June 1326, when those who had not appeared to answer these charges were pardoned of outlawry on condition that they surrendered themselves to prison and stood their trial if the abbot should proceed against them. (fn. 17)
The abbey lands were held in free alms, and on this ground the abbot in 1341 obtained for himself and his successors freedom from attending Parliament. (fn. 18) In 1405, and again in 1438, the Beaulieu manors, because of waste and impoverishment caused by misrule, were put in the hands of trustees. (fn. 19)
In April 1538 the abbey and all its possessions were surrendered to the Crown, (fn. 20) and, notwithstanding the desires of Arthur Plantagenet Viscount Lisle, (fn. 21) they were at once granted to Thomas Wriothesley, afterwards Earl of Southampton. (fn. 22) This grant comprised the house and site of the monastery, the church, steeple and churchyard, the manor and the great close of Beaulieu, with another close lying near by, and the three chapels of Boverey, Througham and St. Leonards within the limits of the great close, tithes in the grange and farm called Leonards. (fn. 23)
In 1544 Wriothesley gave an annuity of £60 from the manor to Richard Cox, clerk, (fn. 24) and in the following year one of £100 to Robert Peterson, clerk. (fn. 25) He was created Earl of Southampton in 1547 and died in 1550, (fn. 26) being succeeded by his only son Henry, who died seised of Beaulieu in 1581. (fn. 27) His son Henry, third Earl of Southampton, forfeited all his honours in 1601 for his part in the rebellion of the Earl of Essex. He was restored, however, on the accession of James I, who regranted him the Beaulieu estate, (fn. 28) of which he died seised in 1624. (fn. 29) His son Thomas, the fourth earl, (fn. 30) was a faithful servant of the Stuart cause, and Charles I was often at Beaulieu in the early days of his reign. (fn. 31) In August 1635, however, the king laid claim to Beaulieu as Crown property, and in October the earl was deprived by a forest court of land worth £2,000 a year. (fn. 32) The following year Charles consented to nullify this unjust decree, granting the earl absolute freedom from the forest laws over the site of the abbey and certain other lands in the manor. (fn. 33)
On the earl's death without surviving male issue in 1667 his honours became extinct and Beaulieu passed to his youngest daughter and co-heir Elizabeth, wife firstly of Jocelyn (Percy) eleventh Earl of Northumberland and secondly of Ralph (Montagu) first Duke of Montagu. (fn. 34) Thence it passed to the son of the second marriage, John second Duke of Montagu, whose honours became extinct on his death in 1749. (fn. 35) Beaulieu was then equally divided between his two daughters and co-heirs, Isabel wife of Sir Edward Hussey (afterwards HusseyMontagu), created Lord Beaulieu of Beaulieu in 1762 and Earl of Beaulieu in I784, (fn. 36) and Mary wife of George Brudenell, afterwards Montagu, fourth Earl of Cardigan and first Duke of Montagu of a new creation. (fn. 37) The entire property was, however, subsequently vested in Lord Beaulieu, (fn. 38) but on his death without issue in 1802 it passed to Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Lord Montagu (ob. 1790) and wife of Henry (Scott) third Duke of Buccleuch. (fn. 39) The estate continued to be held by the Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry until 1884, when Walter Francis (Montagu-Douglas-Scott), the fifth duke, left it to his second son Henry John, who was in the following year created Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. (fn. 40) His son John Walter Edward (Douglas-Scott-Montagu) second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu is now lord of the manor.
Fairs for horses and cattle are held at Beaulieu on 15 April and 4 September. (fn. 41)
A mill is mentioned in 18th-century conveyances of the manor. (fn. 42) To-day there is the site of a mill close to Palace House and a corn-mill at the north end of the village.
Two small holdings in OTTERWOOD in this parish are entered in Domesday Book (fn. 43) and one in 'Hariforde,' which may be the later HARTFORD. (fn. 44) These are entered under Redbridge Hundred and were all three in the New Forest.
Beaulieu Abbey and Church
The abbey of Beaulieu was placed in the heart of the New Forest, on the north bank of the River Exe, at a point from which two smaller valleys diverge. It was surrounded by a precinct embracing roughly a square of 58 acres. The inclosing wall is traceable on all but the east side, and was 10 ft. high, 2½ ft., thick, with a gabled coping of small stones. The entrance was at the south-east corner, and the outer and inner gatehouses still remain.
The outer gatehouse has a wide segmental-headed doorway of entrance surmounted by a gable, in which are three loops, and there is a small room for a porter on the east side. Within the gate was a narrow court or lane running direct to the inner gatehouse. On the east side was the mill, of which the south end remains as high as the eaves, but the rest has gone, though the foundations have been traced. The mill was divided in two parts and in both were wheels driven by water, taken in wide culverts from the mill-pond above. Northward was a large barn or garner, of the same width as the mill, and it had a porch on the west side.
The inner gatehouse of 14th-century date has, since the suppression, formed part of a dwellinghouse, now known as 'Palace House' and the residence of the Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. It consists of a porch and an inner hall, with a bay on either side of each and a chapel above. The main arch of entrance is flanked by deep buttresses and is surmounted by a canopied niche. There was a small door on the west side for foot passengers, but it has been destroyed by an inserted window. The division wall and the inner face were arranged in the same way as the front except that the main arch in the former is rebated for doors. Both parts of the gatehouse are vaulted, which is a modern restoration and is unusually rich, having wall, cross, ridge, diagonal and two intermediate ribs all moulded, but without bosses. A vice in the middle of the west side leads to the first floor and from thence is continued with a smaller vice up to the roof. The first floor is occupied by two parallel chapels connected with each other by two pointed arches. The northern chapel has a squareheaded east window with heavy reticulated tracery and retains its piscina. The southern chapel has a piscina with a locker, and its west window of three lancet lights with attached columns is earlier than the rest of the building.
Within the inner gate was the great court of the abbey containing the guest houses, stables, brewhouse, bakehouse and other buildings, but of these nothing remains except a few scattered foundations at the north end. The chief group of buildings occupied the east side of the court and had the church to the north.
The church was of greater area than any of the Cistercian order in this country. It was 336 ft. in length by 186 ft. across the transepts and in plan was unlike any other English example. The whole building save for the aisle wall next the cloister has been pulled down to the ground, but the foundations remain for the most part and have been completely traced by excavation.
The presbytery was of three bays with an apsidal end, surrounded by two aisles, the outer of which was divided into ten chapels.
The north transept was of four bays with aisles on both east and west sides, and at the north end was another bay forming a porch or galilee similar to that at Cîteaux. The south transept was of the same length as the north, but had only an eastern aisle divided into three chapels. The west wall had in its thickness the night stairs to the dorter, an arrangement only paralleled by those at the daughter house of Hayles. Beyond the transept, in a corresponding position to the galilee, were the vestry and library, which had the south wall of unusual thickness, suggesting that the structural transept extended above them, in which case it would measure 216 ft. from end to end.
The nave was of nine bays with aisles and had an entrance at the west end, inside of which a considerable amount of the tile flooring was found. The wall of the south aisle is 10 ft. thick, with deep arched recesses in each bay towards the cloister in order to reduce the bulk of the wall. Internally each bay is marked by a vaulting column, and above a string-course, 10 ft. from the ground, is recessed about 2 ft. and contains a pair of lancet windows. In the easternmost bay is the processional doorway of three moulded members, and in the eighth bay is another doorway, which is an insertion. The last bay contains marks of the doorway of the stairs to the lay brothers' dorter and another door to a vice in the south-west angle. In the middle of the easternmost bay of the nave was a rough foundation, which must have supported the pulpitum, though its position is further east than might have been expected. No other evidence of internal arrangements has been found, save that in the westernmost bay of the south aisle of the presbytery was the drain from a lavatory.
The cloister was 138 ft. square, and was surrounded by alleys covered with lean-to roofs, supported upon open arcades of Purbeck marble next the garth. In the transept wall is a vaulted recess to containsthe common book cupboard.
Next the transept was a long building vaulted in five bays, but divided at the first bay from the west by a cross wall. The western part was the library, opening from the cloister, and the eastern the vestry, entered by a door in the south end of the transept, and contained in its side walls remains of cupboards for vestments.
Southward was the chapter-house, of which the east end has completely gone. The west end is formed of three pointed arches, originally supported by marble shafts. The middle arch was the entrance, and those at the sides had dwarf walls, and were probably subdivided. The chapter-house was vaulted in three spans, carried by marble pillars, and around it was a stone seat raised upon a step.
Next the chapter-house was the parlour, of which scarcely anything remains but its plain segmental arch of entrance from the cloister.
Extending southward from the parlour was the subvault of the dorter, having a row of circular pillars down the middle, of which the base of the northernmost remains. Part of its east wall remains in the present graveyard, together with a fragment of a cross wall at the third bay, but its southern end is uncertain. Above this, and extending over the chapter-house up to the church, was the dorter of the monks, gained by a flight of steps at its north end and another on its west side. Of the latter the lower steps, of quadrant form, remain projecting into the south-east angle of the cloister.
The reredorter, of which nothing but the foundations of its side walls were found, extended eastward from the south end of the dorter, and had the drain, 4 ft. wide, on its south side.
On the south side of the cloister, next the dorter stairs, are the remains of the entrance to the warminghouse. This was vaulted in two square bays, and had a hooded fireplace at its west end.
Adjoining the warming-house, but placed north and south, was the frater, now used as the parish church. It was entered from the cloister by a moulded doorway of three members, which retains an original door with its ironwork, and in the gable above are three lancet windows. In the east wall are six tall lancet windows, and in the west four, in two pairs. In the middle of the west side is the pulpit, entered by a wall stair having an open arcade on coupled columns next the frater, and each bay is vaulted. The pulpit has a semi-octagonal stone corbel, carved with leafwork, which supports a front of stone with panelled faces. In the recess behind is a doorway to a vice, contained in a turret, which led to the parapet. At the north end of the west side is the hatch from the kitchen, formed by a depressed arch of three chamfered members. In the north wall, adjoining the hatch, is a large locker, now formed into a window. The frater is covered with an arched rafter-roof of the 14th century divided into bays with transverse ribs, and has longitudinal ribs with bosses at the intersections.
The kitchen occupied the remainder of the south side of the cloister, but of it nothing remains.
Between the frater and warming-house doors are the remains of the lavatory, which, though of the 13th century, is an insertion. It consisted of three open arches, upon columns, projecting from the wall face, and flanked on either hand by splayed arches. The back of the lavatory is recessed into the wall, and has a grooved ledge for the pipe, off which the water was drawn by a row of taps. The basins were segmental on plan, very shallow, and carried on moulded capitals with truncated columns dying into deeply splayed plinths.
On the western side of the cloister was a narrow court or lane, with the long building for the housing of the lay brothers on its west side. This building was originally no less than 264. ft. in length, of which the northern half remains tolerably perfect. On plan it is divided roughly into three parts. The northernmost part was cellarage, and is lighted by loops on the west side; between this and the next division is the cloister entry, which has a simple doorway at either end, and is covered with a barrel vault. The second part was apparently the frater of the lay brothers, originally vaulted into six bays, of which the two northern remain, and lighted by deeply splayed lancets on the west. At the north end are two round-headed lockers. Beyond the south wall the main drain of the abbey crossed the range. The third division seems to have been of one story only, and may have been the lay brothers' infirmary, but it was much altered at the suppression, and its arrangements are not clear. Over the northern part and the frater was the dorter of the lay brothers, lighted by narrow loops on the west and approached by a straight stair at the north end from the church and by two pairs of stairs on the east. At the south end was the reredorter, over the drain, but contained within the range, like that for the monks at Kirkstall.
Eastwards of the claustral buildings was the infirmary of the monks, which has completely disappeared above ground, but a considerable amount has been traced by excavation. The great hall was placed north and south, though not parallel to the other buildings, was divided into eight bays by cross arches carried upon piers projecting into the hall, and gained from the parlour next the chapter-house by a wide passage. The fourth bay from the north is narrower than the rest, and probably carried a louvre over a central fire; it had the entrance in its west wall. In the sixth bay on the east side is a small moulded doorway, which led into the chapel. This projected eastward, and had double buttresses to the eastern angles. At the south end of the hall are the remains of a fireplace; there was another in the second bay on the west, and a third in a late wall just beneath the suggested central lantern.
The infirmary kitchen seems to have been at the south end of the hall, but the remains of it are very fragmentary.
In the passage just outside the infirmary door is a block of masonry with moulded base which supported the conduit to which the water supply was brought for dispersal to the various buildings. Immediately opposite are remains of a flight of stairs against the hall wall, which seem to have led to an upper floor over the northern end of the hall itself. On the west side of these steps was an added room, 18 ft. wide but of uncertain length, which in consequence of its position was probably the misericorde or rater where meat was allowed in later monastic days to be taken thrice a week.
One hundred yards northward of the church are the ruins of a large building placed east and west, having a projecting wing to the north. The main portion was a barn or hayloft, over a cellar, the roof of which was carried by a row of wooden posts on either side, dividing it into a nave and aisles. It originally extended a bay and a half further west than the present end. The northern wing was also above a cellar, and from its north end a causeway level with the first floor leads to the high land beyond the precinct still known as 'the vineyards.' For many years this ruin has been called 'the wine-press,' and such seems to have been its use, especially when it is compared with the plan and 16th-century description of that at Clairvaux.
The water supply was obtained from springs, in the high ground east of the abbey, which were collected into a conduit and conveyed thence in lead pipes by gravitation. The conduit is circular on plan, 12 ft. in diameter, with a plain domed ceiling and is entered by a small shouldered doorway on the west side.
The fish stews were arranged up the two small valleys north of the precinct, and there were at least six, four up the north valley and two up the northeast, through which from the spring-head from where the water supply is obtained runs the Shireburn. Each pond is formed by solid earthen banks from one side of the valley to the other, and some appear to have had side channels, so that an upper one could be emptied without interfering with a lower pond. There were also two small stews eastward of the infirmary.
Owing to the convenient position of Beaulieu upon a tidal river, the whole of the building materials could be brought by sea. The freestone for external work came from Binstead, next Quarr Abbey in the Isle of Wight, for internal work from Caen, in Normandy, and the marble for inside capitals, columns and bases from Purbeck. The walling generally was of rubble formed of wasters from the Binstead and Caen blocks mixed with beach boulders, and had freestone dressings throughout, though the church walls seem to have been faced with ashlar both inside and out. The roofs of many of the buildings were covered with slate of a poor quality which probably came from Cornwall. The floors of the important buildings were laid with tiles of a fair quality which seem to have been made near the site, as clay is still dug on the manor which burns to a similar texture. The patterns are various and a quantity are preserved in the floors of two garden houses opposite Palace House.
A number of architectural fragments are preserved in the lay brothers' frater, together with three grave slabs. Of these latter one of the 14th century measures 10 ft. 1½ in. in length by 2 ft. 9 in. in breadth. In the middle is the housing for a brass effigy under a rich canopy which is of white stone inlaid in the slab. Round the edges was an inscription having each letter incised in a little square of white stone; most is obliterated, but that which was on the north reads, 'jesv crist: omnipotent: fi . . . .' Another slab, also of Purbeck, has the housing of a lady under a cusped canopy and of the inscription '+ hic: iacet: ysabella: prim . . . .' is all that is legible. The third slab is perfectly plain and the inscription is perfect: '+ dav | n: willame: de: cornwaile: | gist: ici |: dev: de sa: alme: eit: pite: et: m | erci.' He was a Prior of Beaulieu, who was made abbot of the daughter house of Newnham on 12 September 1272 and died at Beaulieu in 1288. (fn. 45) There is also a small coffin 1 ft. 11½ in. in length, tapering from 14½ in. to 12½ in. and 9¾ in. deep; it contains two heart-shaped sinkings and is covered with a slab 3 in. thick. In one of the sinkings was a green-glazed vase, and the coffin was doubtless for the reception of the heart and entrails of some distinguished person whose body was buried elsewhere.
On the large manor of Beaulieu the monks had granges at Herfords, Otterwood, Bockelodginge and St. Leonards.
Though all but Bockelodginge are represented by farms of the original name, ST. LEONARD'S GRANGE is the only one of which any remains are left, and these consist of a chapel and barn.
The chapel is a detached building of late 13th-century date, of which all the walls remain to their full height, save half that on the north and the east gable. The east window has lost its arch and tracery, but was originally of four lights, and is flanked on either side by a large niche with pinnacled side shafts and trefoiled head, under a straight-sided pediment terminated by a foliated cross. The side walls had each two single-light windows, and on the south side are the remains of a piscina and a locker. There is a similar locker in the north wall. The west end had a pointed doorway and a window of three lights with plate tracery; inside was a gallery 6 ft. wide carried on corbels in either side wall.
A few foundations of uncertain character have been found (1906) on the north side of the chapel, but no other indications of the original buildings remain.
South-eastward from the chapel are the remains of a great barn 216¼ ft. long by 61¼ ft. wide. Of this the east gable, north wall and part of the south, with half the west gable, remain to their full height. The barn was divided into seven bays by wooden posts, forming a nave with side aisles about 15 ft. wide. Opposite each post were buttresses to the side walls and other larger buttresses opposite each line of posts to the gables. There is a large segmental-headed doorway, with the valves opening outwards, in the middle of the north side, and to the west a smaller door opening inwards. Both doors were protected by a porch, the beginnings of the side walls of which remain as buttresses. The only windows seem to be two narrow square-headed loops high up in each gable.
The plate consists of a silver chalice of 1734, inscribed, 'Pray for the soul of Far Edmond Flanagan who got me made in ye year 1734'; two silver-gilt chalices, one of 1846, the other undated; a silver paten of 1887; two silver-gilt patens of 1846 and 1895; a silver-gilt flagon of 1845, given by Jane Margaret widow of Henry James Lord Montagu of Boughton, in 1846, and a copper-gilt alms plate.
The registers are in six books. The first contains all entries 1654 to 1705; the second baptisms and marriages 1706 to 1745 and burials 1706 to 1734; the third has baptisms and burials 1745 to 1783 and marriages 1745 to 1754, the burials 1734 to 1745 being lost; the fourth has marriages only, 1754 to 1812, and the fifth and sixth baptisms and burials 1783 to 1802 and 1802 to 1812 respectively.
In 1227, twenty-two years after the foundation of the abbey, the church of Beaulieu was completed. (fn. 46)
The rectory and advowson were kept in the king's hands when the Beaulieu lands were given to Wriothesley in 1538. They were, however, granted him in January 1544, (fn. 47) and have ever since been held with the manor. (fn. 48) Lord Montagu of Beaulieu is the present patron.
Three chapels, those of Boverey, Througham and St. Leonard, were included in the grant to Wriothesley in 1538. (fn. 49) The remains of St. Leonard's Chapel are still in existence, and there is the site of another chapel by Park Farm.
The district church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST at Park, of red brick with Bath stone facings, was built in 1906.
There is a school for boys, built in 1858, and a school for girls and infants built in 1841. There is also a mixed school at Park, in the southern extremity of the parish.
The Poor's Money consists of £120 18s. 1d. consols, held by the official trustees, arising from original gift of £70, mentioned in the Parliamentary returns of 1786, by an unknown donor, and accumulations. The yearly dividends, amounting to £3 0s. 4d., are distributed at Easter amongst widows and persons having families.
Daniel Elliott, by will dated 24 February 1628, devised an annuity of £40, applicable as to one moiety for the establishment of a lecturer in this parish, and the other moiety for the like purpose in All Hallows, Bread Street, London.
The annuity is charged upon, or issuing out of, lands in the parish of Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, now the property of Mr. George Onslow Churchill, of Alderholt Park, Salisbury.
By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 23 July 1907 the rent-charge is vested in the official trustee of charity lands.