Beaulieu means ‘beautiful place’ and our gardens aim to live up to that name!
A charming mixture of formal and informal design, the gardens were once the grounds of Beaulieu Abbey and now host an enviable range of flora. Escape the hectic world and lose yourself for a day – no matter what the season.
Arrival & Orientation
Keep an eye out for the tree-top griffin as you leave the visitor reception building. This mythical creature supports the Montagu family coat of arms and is one of several mythical tree carvings around the grounds.
Continue past the griffin and follow the signs for the Monorail. Hop aboard for a serene trip around the grounds. Enjoy aerial views of the gardens and get your bearings for a day of exploration.
Mill Pond Walk
Take a full circuit on the Monorail to return to North Station. If there are car enthusiasts among you, pop into World of Top Gear and the National Motor Museum. Don’t miss the child-sized Royal Caravan, which was originally kept in the garden at Buckingham Palace.
Behind North Station you’ll find the entrance to the Mill Pond Walk. You’ll see a canal on your right, which was created in the 1730s by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu and was originally part of an elaborate water feature.
Follow the quiet, meandering route past ancient oak trees and (depending on the time of year) look out for snake’s-head fritillaries, bluebells, snowdrops, ajuga reptans, wood anemones, meadowsweet, wild daffodil, cow parsley, lungwort, primrose and common spotted orchid.
As well as plants and flowers, the Mill Pond walk is also home to some more exotic guests… See if you can spot the fairies and their tiny doors. Plus keep an eye out for more tree carvings along the path – a sprite, a legendary Green Man and a many-headed serpent!
As well as plants and flowers, the Mill Pond walk is also home to some more exotic guests…
See if you can spot the fairies and their tiny doors. Plus keep an eye out for more tree carvings along the path – a sprite, a legendary Green Man and a many-headed serpent!
Did you know? The reeds were used to repair the thatch on local cottages. Close to the reed beds you’ll see Bramble Island, which was created with spoil from the rebuilding of Palace House and was known as ‘Adventure Island’ to many generations of Montagu children.
At the end of the Mill Pond Walk you’ll find the majestic sight of Palace House. Successive family members have each made their own mark on the gardens that surround this historic house, which was originally the medieval gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey. Head to the upstairs rooms for a unique aerial view of the lawns.
Make sure you visit the Victorian Kitchen. The gardens still supply Palace House with seasonal vegetables and fruits, and if you visit during school holidays you may even see the cook and her maid in action!
Alternatively, find one of the many picnic benches to enjoy lunch in the midst of the gardens!
Did you know? The Veteran Bus will take you along an avenue of chestnut trees that were planted to mark Edward, Lord Montagu’s 21st birthday in 1947.
Victorian Flower Garden
Follow the central path away from the Brabazon Restaurant towards the gardens. The yew hedge you’ll see is over 100 years old!
Turn left into the Victorian Flower Garden, where you’ll find herbaceous borders, camellias, magnolias and a sweet-smelling rose garden. As you enter, look out for the wall-mounted sundial, commissioned to mark the 50th birthdays of Ralph, Lord Montagu and his wife Ailsa. In the beds underneath the sundial you’ll find Ribes speciosum and Callistemon, which benefit from the warmth and shelter of the wall.
In the rose garden you’ll find many old varieties, including the wonderfully fragrant rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ which flowers from June to October. If you’re visiting in the spring, keep an eye out for the spectacular scattering of pink flowers of the Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’.
Beyond the rose garden, you’ll find the Mad Hatter’s tea party, where well-known characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland gather around a ‘tea thyme’ table in a topiary display.
After you’ve finished admiring Alice and her literary friends, walk through the stunning Wisteria and Laburnum tunnel, which can usually be seen in full flower in late April/May.
Take a moment to read the padlocks on the Love Lock Tree, installed to mark the marriage of Jonathan Montagu to his wife Nathalie. The newlyweds and their guests locked engraved padlocks to the tree as a reminder of their special day and now Beaulieu visitors can add their own locks.
Victorian Kitchen Garden
Cross over the central path to enter the Victorian Kitchen Garden, which has been restored to its 1872 layout and supplies fruit, vegetables and cut flowers to Palace House.
Peep through the windows of the vine house to see a dessert grape which has been producing fruit for over 100 years. If you visit in the spring, you may see the pink blossom of peach and nectarine trees.
The contents of the beds varies throughout the year and might include beans, lettuces, pumpkins, marrow, serpent squash, courgette and purple basil.
Leave the Victorian Kitchen Garden via the southern gate to reach the Wilderness with its views across to Palace House.
Originally created by John, Duke of Montagu in the early 18th century as a fenced tangle of trees, hedges and paths in which one could get ‘lost’, now this informal area is spectacular in the spring when crocuses peek above the ground, swiftly followed by over twenty different species of daffodils creating a blanket of bright yellow.
Look out for the Dawn Redwood tree, planted from seeds given to Edward, Lord Montagu in 1948, and Arbutus unedo, planted from a family wedding bouquet.
Beaulieu Abbey Cloister
Follow the signs for Beaulieu Abbey to reach the tranquillity of the Cloister, which is home to an aromatic herb garden. Depending on the time of year, you might see sage, marjoram, liquorice, summer savoury, thyme and houseleek. Discover how the monks used these herbs in medicine and cooking, then head indoors to the Monastic Life Exhibition to discover more about how the monks lived and worked.
From Beaulieu Abbey, take a last walk back through the Victorian gardens and up the central path to visitor reception, or take the direct route back via the arena. Before you enter visitor reception, take a moment to admire the huge leaves of the Gunnera (giant rhubarb) to the left of the path.
Don’t forget to visit the gift shop to pick up a souvenir of your day or some tasty Beaulieu Estate produce!
This itinerary is for guidance only. Mother Nature is notoriously fickle and unfortunately we can’t guarantee which plants will be on show for your visit. Vehicles and exhibits are occasionally removed from display for maintenance, so if you’d like to see something particular please check with us before you visit.
Some parts of the gardens, attractions and rides are not fully accessible for customers who use wheelchairs or have limited walking ability. Please see our accessibility page for more details. Our team will be happy to advise on alternative viewing or access points as appropriate.
Plan your visit with our interactive map of the Beaulieu complex.
Tickets & Information
Your admission ticket includes entry to all the Beaulieu attractions, including Palace House & Gardens, The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey and more.
Plan your trip with our handy seasonal guide to Beaulieu’s grounds and gardens.