VIP guests gathered for the fun launch of exciting new adventure play area Little Beaulieu which has opened to visitors.
Lord Montagu dressed as the ringmaster to open the magical wooden palace, with fireworks setting off celebrations with a bang. He raised his top hat to families, as he was amongst the first to slide down its fantastic zip wire.
Joining the guests were actress Sarah Parish and her husband James Murray, who has just starred in ITV’s new prime-time crime drama McDonald & Dodds. The History Guy Dan Snow, his wife Lady Edwina Grosvenor and their young family also joined the party, enjoying the stilt walkers, face painters, balloon artist and jazz, blues and ragtime band.
Visitors were invited to join the celebration later on Saturday and the enchanting new play area is now open as part of a general admission ticket to Beaulieu.
Families are invited to let their imagination run wild as they explore Little Beaulieu’s secret passageways and hidden tunnels, to its turrets and lookout tower. Children can peek out from behind portraits and crawl through a trick bookcase to discover every nook and cranny, from his Lordship’s library to the tree-top boardwalk – then keep their eyes peeled for a bird’s-eye view as the ‘Skytrain’ monorail rumbles past.
Change the time on the old-style clock faces and take the easy way down through a giant spiral tube slide or fireman’s pole. Become the gatekeeper peering through the telescope to spot playmates approaching, call down through the fun funnel speaker and play a tune on the melodic xylophone chimes. Don’t get in a tangle in the tricky rope maze room, try a brainteaser to match up pairs of pictures in a giant wooden game, then let off steam on the epic climbing wall.
Get behind the wheel of a wooden car – what else in the grounds of the National Motor Museum? If you are feeling strong, hang around on the swing bar rings, leap over log hurdles and make sure to keep your balance on the stepping stones and balance beams.
Younger tots have their own special zone of Little Beaulieu. Scoop up buckets of sand to drop down a chute and jump aboard the wooden play bus, modelled on Beaulieu’s Veteran Bus at one of the south’s leading visitor attractions.
The £½m Little Beaulieu, which draws on the heritage of Lord Montagu’s ancestral home of Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey, has been brought to life over the winter by industry-leading adventure play area designers and builders CAP.Co Adventure Play. Their ingenious past projects have included builds for fellow Treasure Houses of England, Castle Howard and Leeds Castle, as well as the creation of an intimate wooden stage for Glastonbury Festival.
When you are all played out, their family-friendly design includes a generous covered seating area for a picnic from the café for a sneaky cuppa with a slice of cake, warming light bites or cooling ice creams. What better way to end a perfect day out for family fun all together?
As well as Little Beaulieu, a ticket to Beaulieu also includes entry to the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, Beaulieu Abbey and its gardens and grounds. For tickets and details click here or call 01590 612345.