Is Beaulieu worth a visit these days?

Is Beaulieu worth a visit these days?

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Every day a journey

Original Poster:

679 posts

5 months

Wednesday 2nd June
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Heading back from Dorset to Sussex on Monday. Day booked off work. Just me.

Haven't been to Beaulieu since I was a kid.

Is it worth it?

waynecyclist

1,494 posts

81 months

Wednesday 2nd June
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Visited a few years ago and really enjoyed it, great day with loads to do.

donkmeister

3,772 posts

67 months

Wednesday 2nd June
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I went a couple of years ago and I would say "Yes".

The main collection was absolutely fantastic. I'd like to tell you what I thought the highlights were, but it is genuinely such a great museum that you could easily lose a day there. The Top Gear marquee was fine but TBH I could give it a miss another time.

The house tour was OK too - the highlight for me was when the tour guide explained how Lord Montagu had a wall taken out so he could get a car into the house... Always interesting to hear what a true petrolhead can do with a mental amount of money at their disposal! There were also some paintings and a lot of taxidermy animals (worth noting if anyone in your party wouldn't appreciate the latter)

Nickp82

2,587 posts

60 months

Wednesday 2nd June
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The ice cream from the hut near the house is very good yum

Mr Tidy

14,405 posts

94 months

Thursday 3rd June
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I went there in 2018 - hadn't visited since the 1970s - and had a great day out.

Stigproducts

1,555 posts

238 months

Thursday 3rd June
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Always, especially if the monorail is up and running.

If taking women or anyone else not into cars, dump them here on the way so you can concentrate on geeking out at the vehicles

https://www.exbury.co.uk/


ecs0set

2,220 posts

251 months

Thursday 3rd June
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If you haven't been there since the 70s, then you will remember it well. The main museum, including the unbelievably ancient "Wheels" ride and very dated side exhibits (tyre development, caravan club, etc.) is pretty much the same. There are some new cars in that they have the F1 section. You can still get fleeced in the entrance tickets, shop and restaurant. The monorail is the exactly the same save for the closed ticket booths. The radio controlled cars are still there. The walk around the house is still nice (if you like that kind of thing).

There are a couple of new things, the Top Gear exhibit is interesting. The Cars of the Stars less so. I don't think the old open top bus still runs. Many of the kiddy exhibits (cars on rails, etc.) have gone.

I go most years and to be honest, even with the kids in tow and doing the monorail and river walk, we're done in 90 minutes. However we go as part of the Beaulieu Supercar event or Autojumble, both of which are just as interesting as the permanent features. We also take a picnic and a flask of coffee to avoid the expensive onsite facilities.

I wouldn't pay full price to go unless there was an event on. In my view, it's a shame that they couldn't / won't modernise the attractions.

essayer

7,365 posts

161 months

Thursday 3rd June
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I’d say so. Visited last year and had a good day out. Grab food before though, on-site it’s a bit limited and was a bit unpleasant with covid rules.

Fantastic kids’ play area too, if anyone’s going with family.

Bobtherallyfan

758 posts

45 months

Thursday 3rd June
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The “Wheels” ride closed two years ago. Main development in the last year is the addition of an adventure playground for kids called Little Beaulieu which is proving very popular. There is also a new display about Toys of your childhood. I’d also recommend the small museum about Beaulieu during the war, which is easily missed. Many of our WW2 spies were trained around the area and some of their stories are genuinely moving.

My main advice is to engage with museum staff…..they are enthusiasts. The rest of the Beaulieu site is a business, the museum is a charity.

Truckosaurus

8,507 posts

251 months

Thursday 3rd June
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Last time I visited the best part was the exhibit about the site's WW2 history as an SoE training base.

The car side always seems to focus on the early history of the motorcar so never really excites me.

(There is also the Haynes museum which wouldn't be too far out of the way depending on where in Dorset you'd be setting off from)

Crafty_

12,987 posts

167 months

Thursday 3rd June
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If you are in to old bikes the Sammy Miller museum might be of interest too https://sammymiller.co.uk/


21st Century Man

35,782 posts

215 months

Thursday 3rd June
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I visited last year with a friend, having not been for several years. We were very disappointed. It's hardly changed and is in desperate need of a refresh. Also the Covid mitigations meant that most of the cars had simply been lined up very closely side by side along a one way route with little possibility of viewing vehicles side on or from the rear three quarters. We were there for barely two hours including the house and gardens and a coffee and an ice cream, when on past form it would have been a very full day. I used to love the place and it was one of the best, but came away thinking it was a bit crap now. There doesn't seem to be a passionate Montagu, vision or investment, more of a run down cash cow resting on past laurels. Sorry.

ShampooEfficient

4,083 posts

178 months

Thursday 3rd June
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Went last year and it was fantastic. The 30 degree heat helped, MrsSE and I had a fantastic day strolling about. Food was middling so would recommend stopping elsewhere before and after.

21st Century Man

35,782 posts

215 months

Thursday 3rd June
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We went to the tank museum later, it was great and I'm not particularly into tanks either. I'd recommend that.

Bobtherallyfan

758 posts

45 months

Thursday 3rd June
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21st Century Man said:
I visited last year with a friend, having not been for several years. We were very disappointed. It's hardly changed and is in desperate need of a refresh. Also the Covid mitigations meant that most of the cars had simply been lined up very closely side by side along a one way route with little possibility of viewing vehicles side on or from the rear three quarters. We were there for barely two hours including the house and gardens and a coffee and an ice cream, when on past form it would have been a very full day. I used to love the place and it was one of the best, but came away thinking it was a bit crap now. There doesn't seem to be a passionate Montagu, vision or investment, more of a run down cash cow resting on past laurels. Sorry.
I’m biased as I used to volunteer in the museum but I fail to see how anyone can possibly see all Beaulieu has to offer in 2 hours. You have the car museum, Top Gear exhibition, House, Abbey, Church, SOE exhibition, monorail, gardens and lake side walk to do, plus Little Beaulieu if you have children. Leave the car in the car park for free and you can go for a walk into Beaulieu Village and continue along the river towards Bucklers Hard and the Master Builder pub. There aren’t many more lovely places to enjoy a pint or an ice cream. Of course, COVID means things aren’t quite the same and some displays might be more restricted than usual.

P.s The Sammy Miller museum is also well worth a visit as a previous contributor has said.

FIREBIRDC9

706 posts

104 months

Tuesday 8th June
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I would only bother if an event was on as well.

The museum itself is starting to feel a bit tired , I find it only takes just over an Hour to view (and thats if you take your time)

If an event is on as well its great!


The Top gear exhibit is ok , but most of the vehicles are old wrecks in a tent.

All my own opinion of course.


Agent57

829 posts

121 months

Thursday 10th June
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It has barely changed in the last 40 years.

Large grounds but all the cars are crammed so close together indoors.

Definitely better to go when an event is on.

Really needs some new dynamic management and investment to bring it at least up to the end of the 20th century.

tonymor

1,274 posts

139 months

Thursday 10th June
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I haven’t been for years but most venues are more interesting when an event is included.
I marshal many so that’s my observation/opinion.

Bobtherallyfan

758 posts

45 months

Thursday 10th June
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Agent57 said:
It has barely changed in the last 40 years.

Large grounds but all the cars are crammed so close together indoors.

Definitely better to go when an event is on.

Really needs some new dynamic management and investment to bring it at least up to the end of the 20th century.
The grounds are Beaulieu Enterprise, a commercial entity. The museum is run by the National Motor Museum Trust, which also safeguards the main collections. Like all charities, funding is tough to come by and only a small % of the entrance fee to the Beaulieu complex ever reaches the charity…primarily from when people gift aid.

ColourRestorer

34 posts

80 months

Saturday 12th June
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Agent57 said:
It has barely changed in the last 40 years.

Large grounds but all the cars are crammed so close together indoors.

Definitely better to go when an event is on.

Really needs some new dynamic management and investment to bring it at least up to the end of the 20th century.
I absolutely agree with your sentiments. When compared to the Schlumpf Collection (a.k.a. Cité de l'Automobile or Musée national de l’automobile) at Mulhouse, I feel that Beaulieu is a national embarrassment.

Conversely, what should be a national embarrassment to the French is that the Schlumpf Collection gets so few visitors.