The abbey and house, as well as the National Motor Museum, are on the property of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (pronounced Bew-ley). A Cistercian abbey was founded on this spot in 1204, and you can explore its ruins. The Palace House, surrounded by gardens, was the gatehouse of the abbey before it was converted into a private residence in 1538. Although much was destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII, you can still see an ancient doorway, the cloisters, and the lay brothers' refectory, housing an exhibition depicting monastic life in the abbey through a series of modern embroidered wall hangings. The cloisters are especially inviting and tranquil, planted with fragrant herbs.
National Motor Museum, one of the best and most comprehensive automotive museums in the world, with more than 250 vehicles, is on the grounds and is open to the public. Famous autos include four land-speed record holders, among them Donald Campbell's Bluebird. Some of the vehicles used in James Bond movies are on display, as well as those once used by everybody from Eric Clapton to Marlene Dietrich. The collection was built around Lord Montagu's family collection of vintage cars. For further information, contact the visitor reception manager at the John Montagu Building (tel. 01590/612345).