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Beaulieu Abbey



(abbatia quae vocitatur Bellus Locus)

Beaulieu Abbey was a Cistercian house in Hampshire, one of the three monasteries founded by King John (c. 1204) and peopled by thirty monks from Cîteaux. The founder granted it a rich, if miscellaneous, endowment, including land in the New Forest, corn, money, one hundred and twenty cows, twelve bulls, a golden chalice, and an annual tun of wine. The buildings were dedicated in 1246, in the presence of King Henry III and his queen, Richard Earl of Cornwall, and many prelates and nobles. Pope Innocent III constituted Beaulieu an "exempt abbey", with the right of sanctuary; and this was sought in 1471 by Ann Neville, wife of Warwick the King-maker, the day before the battle of Barnet. Twenty-six years later Perkin Warbeck fled to Beaulieu from the pursuing armies of Henry VII. Shortly before the suppression of the monastery in 1539, the Visitors' report mentioned that "thirty-two sanctuary-men, who were here for debt, felony, or murder", were living within the monastic precincts with their wives and families.

The first Abbot of Beaulieu was Hugh, and the last Thomas Stephens, elected in 1535. In the following year the abbey, with its annual revenue of £326, was granted to Thomas Wriothesley, afterwards Earl of Southampton. It passed later through the Dukes of Montagu to the Dukes of Buccleuch; and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, the Duke of Buccleuch's nephew, now (1907) owns it. He resides in the old gatehouse of the abbey, which has been carefully restored. Little else remains of the domestic buildings, except the fine early English refectory, used as the parish church. The cloisters are in ruins, but the guest-house dormitory still exists, and has been restored. Not a stone is left of the beautiful church, 335 feet long, with a nave of nine bays, transepts, tower, and double-aisled choir with circular apse, of a purely Continental type most unusual in England. The late Duke of Buccleuch had the foundations of the church, with every column and buttress, carefully traced out and marked in sand. Netley Abbey, on the other side of Southampton Water, was founded from Beaulieu in 1239, by Henry III.

Dugdale, Monast. Anglic., V, 680 sqq.; Registr. Cart. Mon. de Bello Loco (Cott. MSS., Brit. Mus., Nero, A, xii, 1); Tanner, Notitia Monastica (Hampshire, vi); Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (Victoria County Histories), II, 140-146.

D.O. HUNTER-BLAIR








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