Hello! Well, I'm back from England.
Click on the link to the right for pictures
of the Montague House at Beaulieu.



CLICK HERE FOR IMAGES

Beaulieu was originally an abbey of Cistercian monks. Henry VIII had the Abbey torn down during his dispute with the Pope. The current house started out as a gatehouse to the abbey itself and was extensively remodeled several times, including the 19th century. The name is pronounced "Bew-ley," a surprise to anyone who knows even a little French. On the other hand, the British do that. When asked if we had yet been to "Beaver" castle, we said "No," only to discover we had just the previous day been to Belvoir Castle, pronounced, you guessed it: Beaver. The surname "Featherstoneshaugh" is England is pronounced "Fanshaw." Hmmm.

The estate itself is over 8,000 acres and includes the town of Beaulieu itself, through which you must drive to get to the estate. It includes its own forest (The New Forest) and extensive wetlands and estuaries, including "Buckler's Yard," where several of Lord Nelson's ships were built during the Napoleonic era. Cows freely roam the estate and roads, which are, of course, extremely narrow. (Buckler's Yard is a separate exhibit on the estate a couple of miles from the house.)

At the main house there is extensive parking beneath a forest of trees.

The entrance to the estate is via the gift-shop and into the amusement park area. It costs over 15, which is about $27.00--kind of steep as castles go, but it is free if you have a Heritage Pass (well worthwhile). In the middle of the amusement park is the National Motor Museum, filled with cars of all types, ancient and modern and well worth a visit. The present Baron is a car buff, as was his father. You then walk past the amusement park to the house itself. They trained spies there during WWII and there is a small museum which details their activities.

There are really not that many rooms open to the public in the house itself. There is one large room filled with portraits of Montague ancestors.

Photography is allowed, but taking really good pictures is difficult.

Lighting is minimal, flashes reflect off portraits, and other tourists are in the way. You can see traces of the abbey in the house itself, which was essentially built around the old gatehouse. The abbey itself is in a much more ruinous state. We couldn't get clear into that part because a wedding was taking place, so I'm afraid I don't have much information on that. I've been in several other abbeys in England, though, and they are pretty stark places, particularly those inhabited by Cistercians, a stern lot.

Having an amusement park or other attractions associated with these big houses is typical in Britain. Beaulieu is actually one of the smaller manor houses. They all take a great deal of money to keep up. Just replacing a roof on one of these houses can cost millions of dollars. The families, though titled and "wealthy," simply can't keep up. Many, probably most, have been deeded to the National Trust in lieu of "death duties," which are 40% of an estate's worth in Britain. Apparently a Chancellor of the Exchequer at the turn of the 20th century decided he would soak the rich "until their pips squeak" (pips being those little red dots on 'our' coat of arms.)

Not to get too political here, but I feel this is really sad. Effectively the aristocracy has been decimated in Britain. These families are, in effect, custodians of these big houses. It's very evident from their statements that they are aware they are just "passing through." During WWII they were confiscated by the government to house children sent to the countryside during the Blitz. There was a lot of damage done to them not by the bombs, but by the tenants during that time. Now these families are being forced to give up the houses because of these high death duties. The "deal" is usually that they can stay in a corner apartment for one or two generations, then they are completely out of the picture.

The present owner is Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, born in 1926. The estate actually got to the Montagu's through the female line through Elizabeth, daughter of the 4th Earl of Southampton, who married Ralph, the 1st Duke of Montagu in the mid-1600s, though it has bounced in and out of the Montagu family since that time. Obviously, they have gone from Dukes to Barons; I'm unsure why. I'm also unsure if these Montagu's are "our" Montague's due to a curious statement in the literature.

What do you think of the following?

"The Montagu's were a family who, like the Wriothesley's, had risen to prominence under the patronage of the Tudors. They were of yeoman stock

{i.e.: Gentlemen farmers} from Northamptonshire and their surname was "Ladde" until the middle of the 15th century when Richard Ladde, for reasons which were accepted by society at the time, took the surname 'Montague.' His descendent, Sir Edward Montagu, a lawyer, became a Chief Justice under Henry VIII, and like the 1st Earl of Southampton was an executor of Henry's will.

At the beginning of the 17th century the family was created "Lords Montagu of Broughton" after their Northamptonshire home." (from the Guidebook)

As I understand it, the Montague's of America who are descendants of Peter or Richard are descended from a William Montague from the 1500s like this:

William Montague m. Joan ? Lived in the mid 1500s

|Robert Montague m. Margaret Cotton

|William Montague m. Margaret Malthouse

|Peter Montague m. Eleanor Allen

|Peter Montague b. 1603 m. Cicely Mathews (went to Virginia) Richard Montague (went to New England)

Now, I'm not seeing how these two connect, and the former, being originally of the surname "Ladde" can't connect to Drogo Montacute and 1066.

Yet the coat of arms of the present Baron is exactly that of the Montague's.

So, anyway, I don't quite get it. As the guide at Beaulieu told me, "Genetic testing would tell!" I was kidding him that the castle should actually belong to me.

And, from here, my particular line goes: Peter Montague (1603) -> Peter Montague (1634) -> William Montague (1670) -> Abraham Montague (1701) -> Latane Montague (1731) -> Martha Montague (1758) m. John Knight -> Henry Montague Knight (1808) -> Charlotte Knight (1831) m. John Benjamin Russell -> Elum Mizel Russell (1872) -> Mary Eugenia Russell m. Robert Julius Schuyler -> Michael Schuyler.

This branch of the family started out in Virginia, of course, but at some point migrated to Tennessee where several generations lived. My grandfather, Elum Mizel Russell, was a country doctor who wound up in Colorado, then the next generation moved about as far west as you can go. I am a retired librarian and live with my wife, Carol, on Bainbridge Island near Seattle.

The Baron has a web site: http://www.beaulieu.co.uk with some more pictures and information on the family.


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