Monday, 12 May 2014

Culture: Beaulieu

The week before I started my new job which is awesome and I literally can't get over how lucky I am, I had the pleasure of teaching 3 lovely Japanese students. As part of their programme they had to research and organise a day trip, and after examining our options, the girls decided on Beaulieu. I took Maxx there last year for the Bond in Motion exhibition and knew it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out, even if you aren't a car enthusiast (which I am definitely not), so I was looking forward to going again.

First on our itinerary was the Palace House and Abbey ruins. I love a grand old house, and as soon as you walk in you're presented with a couple of enormous portraits and glass cases full of artefacts from the past and present owners' lives. The house is styled in the late Victorian period, 1889 to be specific, so the staff are in costume, the kitchen has a big chalk board with a menu written on it which would have been typical for the time, and there's a picture of Queen Victoria hanging up. 

Sir Thomas Wriothesley was the first owner of Beaulieu, after Thomas Cromwell sold it to him in 1538 (middle portrait)

The staff were really friendly - one gentleman, I believe he was the butler, gave the girls a talk on the house and who would have worked there, what their roles were and a brief history on working in the Victorian era. From a teaching perspective - remember I was actually working that day hard life huh - this was a great listening and vocabulary exercise. 

The first time I visited, I was thrilled to see a portrait of John and Sara Churchill - during my 2nd and 3rd years of University, I studied 18th century literature and came across both of these important figures, so it was cool to learn the connection of the Churchill's to the Montagu family (who own Beaulieu). 

Walking to the Palace House through the gardens

I also love a good ruin, and the Abbey doesn't disappoint - it's 800 years old! You can walk around the cloister and admire the herb garden which borders it, as well as visit the excellent little museum which explains how the monks lived. Again, from my perspective, this was great as the girls learnt a lot of new vocabulary and many interesting facts on England's medieval culture. I hadn't visited this museum before, but was impressed - there is an informative board explaining how the monks' day was spent, over 50% of which is in prayer. All of us found this fascinating.

Although the weather was drizzly and a bit cold, it was atmospheric walking around the Abbey ruins and Palace House. The girls certainly brightened the place up with their array of colourful brollies!

The Abbey ruins and cloister

After a lunch break, we visited the Motor Museum. If you like history but not cars, you'll still find the museum interesting - looking at how cumbersome some of the old vehicles were, and how they transformed over the last couple of centuries, is somewhat strange. Some of the first 'cars' could still be pulled by horses if they stopped working! 

On the first floor is an array of vehicles from across the world, but the ground floor is where speed demons might find most exciting, as that's where the record-breaking land speed cars are held. There's also an old London bus which you can board; this is a perfect picture opportunity.

There was also a chance to preview the next exhibition, which is on motorcycles - a great advertising tool, as there are already a multitude of bikes from across the globe. I think that'll be one to take Maxx to, as he loves motorbikes and watching the Moto-GP. 

Overall, this really is a day out for everyone. If the weather's nice, you can stroll through the gardens and Abbey ruins. If it's cold, you can stay warm in the House or Motor Museum or Abbey museum. The food is fresh and tasty, and the gift shop is well-stocked with a range of mugs, models, keyrings etc. 

For travel details, click here, and for prices and opening times, click here.

My personal favourite (red car, right)

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