The monastery at Beaulieu was founded in 1204 by King John and its Abbey Church was dedicated to Saint Mary in 1246. Most of the Abbey fell into ruins after the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII but the domus, cloisters and refectory survived. They are situated at the north end of the church, through the glass doors, and are part of the Beaulieu Estate.

In 1538 the refectory of the original abbey was re dedicated to The Blessed Virgin and Holy Child and became the parish church of Beaulieu and it has remained so.

Inside the church, especially if the sun is shining, you will probably notice that the church is not oriented to the east in the usual way. Instead, because it was the refectory, positioned on the south side of the original abbey cloisters, the church lies north to south with the altar at the south end.

Over the years, several changes have been made: formation of a chancel and sanctuary, construction of a gallery chapel and vestries, importation of oak pews, and installation of a Walker pipe organ which is a delight to play. (The Walker organ was installed in 1858 according to Captain Widnell's Beaulieu Record page 245). More recently a splendid oak-framed church hall has been added, forming a harmonious addition to the ancient building.

Address: The Beaulieu Abbey Church, Palace Lane, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, SO42 7YG

Visit the church website.  pdfChurch Guide Booklet

The Stone Pulpit

One of the most interesting architectural features is what is now the stone pulpit, situated prominently half way along the west wall. Originally this was a lectern from which one chosen monk would read improving books to the other monks as they sat silently eating their meals. The pulpit is approached by a stone stairway cut into the thickness of the west wall, a most unusual feature found only here and in Chester Cathedral.

The Gallery

Down the centuries the gallery at the north end of the church has been used for varying purposes. Old prints of the church show that in the 18th century a wall across the nave separated the gallery from the rest of the building and for a time it served as the village school. In 1965 a new staircase was built and the Chapel restored and partly refurbished. It is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist.

84 Squadron RAF

The Standard of 84 Squadron RAF is laid up in the Abbey Church to commemorate the founding of the Squadron as part of the Royal Flying Corps on Beaulieu Airfield during the First World War in 1917, since when they have never been based in the British Isles.

Toc H

Near the pulpit is the Tubby Clayton Memorial, a finely carved slate roundel in memory of the co-founder of Toc H, who lived in Beaulieu as a boy and returned regularly to preach throughout his lifetime. The plaque, with the Toc H lamp and cross in gold at the top, was dedicated by his Grace Dr Robert Runcie, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in June 1984. Toc H members from all over the world attended the special service and today many especially ask to be shown this memorial.


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