A Walk Around the Church at Beaulieu

This parish church was originally built between 1204 and 1246 as the refectory (dining room) for the monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Beaulieu. For this reason the building is not on the usual alignment; the altar faces South rather than East. After the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, during the reign of Henry VIII, the Estate was bought by the Wriothesley family and the building was given to the village as its church and has remained so ever since.

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Font

 

Font

The present font dates from 1881 and replaced the original one, the remains of which are now to be found in the Domus museum.

Organ

 

Organ

The *two manual organ, in a fine oak case, was built by Messrs. Walker & Sons of London in 1893. Until 1940 the organ was in the chancel but was then moved to its present position. It is played regularly for services and concerts.

*'Two manual' means two keyboards.

Madonna and Child

 

Madonna and Child

On the west wall, facing the main door and near to the Font is a bas-relief ' MADONNA AND CHILD ' by the artist Martin Travers. This work was commissioned by the congregation in 1942 when Beaulieu must have been a frightening place to live; the war was very apparent. The S.O.E. trained in the Beaulieu Estate woods, HMS Mastodon was at Exbury House with troops and tanks assembling for the D Day landings and Southampton suffered bombing raids. For many years the work hung in the central niche behind the altar but was re-hung in 2013. The dove above the Madonna was suggested by the artist and was commissioned by Lady Armstrong in 1944 in memory of her husband, Sir Phillip Armstrong.

Staircase to the Pulpit

Staircase to the Pulpit

This staircase is built in the thickness of the wall; if you look through the iron gate you can see how the steps have been eroded by over 800 years of use. At the foot of the stairway is a tablet commemorating the long ministry to Beaulieu of the Rev. Robert Fraser Powles who arrived as assistant-curate in 1880 and was Vicar from 1886 until 1939.

Pulpit and stairs

Tubby Clayton Memorial

 

'TUBBY' Clayton Memorial and Toc H Lamp

This memorial was erected in 1984 in memory of the founder of *Toc H, who lived in Beaulieu as a boy, and returned regularly to preach. The plaque was dedicated at a service in June 1984 by his Grace Dr. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury and attended by Toc H members from around the world. In one of the alcoves in the stairway to the pulpit is a Toc H lamp.

*‘Toc H’ was founded in 1916 in Belgium to provide a respite centre for both officers and soldiers away from the frontline, offering a library, canteen, garden and chapel.’

The Pulpit

 

The Pulpit

This is the most important architectural item in the church. It is one of only two surviving Cistercian monastic lecterns left in this country (the other is in Chester). In Cistercian monasteries, then and now, meals are usually eaten in silence. After grace has been said, a book is read aloud, either extracts from the Bible or readings about the lives of the saints. This great stone lectern, now used as a pulpit, was built so that the Reader could be heard in all parts of the building.

Sanctuary Lamp

 

The Sanctuary Lamp

Above the pulpit is to be found the Sanctuary Lamp which is lit at all times. This lamp was given to the church in July 1889, by Lord Henry Scott, 1st Baron Montagu as a thank-you for his family's safe return from eight months away recuperating from a serious illness.

The Lectern

The brass double-sided lectern which stands in the Nave, on the west side, below the Chancel steps was given to the church in 1903 by Miss Anne Bacchus of Beaulieu, ' To the Glory of God and the Honour of his Holy Word '.

Rememberance book

 

Book of Rememberance

In a wooden stand beneath the pulpit is the village's Book of Remembrance which lists the names of those residents who fought in the Second World War.

Chancel Cross

 

The Chancel

In 2013, the wooden cross from the 1919 War Memorial, sited in the churchyard, was taken to the workshop in Devon of the craftsman James Morley and, re-using viable timber, he created the cross which now hangs in the central niche above the altar. It is painted 'Cistercian' red and is finished with gold leaf.

Mary Elliot Memorial

 

The outstanding memorial in the church is on the east wall of the Chancel and commemorates Mary Do, who died in 1651 aged 40 years. There is a poem on her memorial. Note the acrostic: MARY DO

Mercies fate,to our great grief and wo
A prey hath here made to our deere Maile Do
Racket up in dust and hid in earth and claye
Yet live her soul and vertue now and aye.

Death is a debt all owe, which must be paide,
Oh that she kneed and oft was not afraide.

 

 

On the West wall of the Chancel is a tablet honouring William Tyrrell, the first Bishop of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He was Vicar of Beaulieu from 1839 to 1847.

John Montagu Memorial

East Wall Memorials in the Nave

There are three significant memorials; to John, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu who died in 1929 and to his widow the Hon. Mrs Pearl Pleydell-Bouverie, long time Church Warden of the Parish who died in 1996 at the age of 101 years.

Alongside is a bronze tablet in memory of Eleanor Thornton, the secretary to the 2nd Lord Montagu, she was the model for 'The Spirit of Ecstasy' on the bonnet of Rolls-Royce cars and was drowned when the SS Persia was torpedoed in 1915. Lord John Montagu was rescued, but it was four days before his lifeboat was found. In the meantime The Times had published his obituary. So he was able to come home and read his own obituary!

Beside the main entrance to the church is a memorial to Captain Widnell, a former Church Warden who wrote the definitive history of Beaulieu and its church; 'The Beaulieu Record'.

John Montagu plaque

Standards

 

Standards

Hanging from the East wall on brackets are 'laid up' flags from three disbanded branches of the Royal British Legion. The two very fragile standards hanging by the linenfold panelling are of No 84 Squadron Royal Air Force. These were laid up in the Abbey Church in July 1981 and July 2003 to commemorate the founding of the Squadron on Beaulieu Airfield during the First World War in 1917, as part of the Royal Flying Corps, since when they have never been based in the British Isles. The brass plaque beneath, explains that they are to be hung here until they 'turn to dust'!

Standards plaque

Linenfold Panelling

 

Linenfold Panelling

The wooden linenfold panelling that fronts the Gallery Chapel is Sixteenth Century in origin. It was installed in the church in the Nineteenth Century and is believed to have come from the Houses of Parliament after the fire of 1834. The Duke of Buccleuch stored much of the woodwork in barns on the Beaulieu Estate and it is thought that this is how the timber came to be used in the church.

Roof

 

The Roof

When the Refectory was first built, the interior had a gabled roof with oak beams hewn from New Forest oaks left open and visible. Not long afterwards, probably to make the Refectory less draughty, the present wagon-shaped plaster roof was added. There are eleven bays, with 84 roof bosses. About 20 are thought to be medieval, with the older bosses at the South end. When the roof was restored in 1856, the other bosses were added. The ceiling was painted red during restoration work in 1958.

 

The Windows

None of the stained glass in the church is ancient. The two windows on either side of the altar depict the Birth of Our Lord and His Resurrection and were installed to celebrate the 21st birthday of the Hon. Lord John Montagu in 1889. The windows on the North Wall, in the Gallery Chapel (B, C and D below, which can be viewed from the Chancel steps), and can be viewed from the Chancel steps, were to celebrate the life of Lord John, 2nd Baron Montagu who died in 1929 and show the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the boy Jesus in the carpenter's shop in Nazareth.

The stained glass windows in the arcade leading to the pulpit are of St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Bishop Montagu of Winchester, ancestor of the present Lord Montagu. They date from 1864.

Opposite the entrance porch is a window (A below) of St. Francis by Reginald Bell, given by Lady Armstrong in memory of Sir Francis Armstrong and Sq. Ldr. Maxwell Farrer, D.F.C., in 1947.

Window AWindow AWindow BWindow BWindow CWindow CWindow DWindow D

Abbey plan

Panoramas

Abbey Interior Panorama

Abbey Exterior Panorama

Cloisters Panorama

 Click on the picture to look around.