BEAULIEU, a liberty, in the union of New Forest, Southampton and S. divisions of the county of Southampton, 6¼ miles (N. E.) from Lymington, on the road to Hythe; containing, with an extra-parochial district within its limits, 1339 inhabitants. This place is situated on a river of the same name, which rises in the New Forest, at the foot of a hill about a mile and a half to the north-east of Lyndhurst, and is navigable for vessels of fifty tons' burthen to the Isle of Wight channel, which bounds the parish on the south. On reaching the village, the river spreads into a wide surface covering several acres, on the eastern side of which stood Beaulieu Abbey, founded in 1204, by King John, for thirty monks of the reformed Benedictine order, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: its revenue, at the Dissolution in 1540, was £428. 6. 8. It had the privilege of sanctuary, and afforded an asylum to Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI., after the battle of Barnet, and to Perkin Warbeck, in the reign of Henry VII. Beaulieu has long been noted for the manufacture of coarse sacking: near the village of Sowley, within the liberty, were formerly two large mills belonging to some iron-works; and at Buckler's Hard, another populous village in the liberty, situated on the Beaulieu river, and inhabited principally by workmen employed in ship-building, many vessels of war have been built. At Sowley is a fine sheet of water, abounding with pike, some of which are of very large size, weighing nearly 28lbs. Fairs for horses and horned-cattle are held on April 15th and September 4th.

The living is a donative; net income, £85; patron and impropriator, Lady Montagu. The chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, was the refectory of the abbey, the church of which, situated to the south-east, has been entirely destroyed; it is a plain building of stone, with strong buttresses, and has a beautiful stone pulpit, the only one similar to which in the kingdom, is that at Magdalene College, Oxford: the edifice was enlarged in 1840. There is a place of worship for Particular Baptists. The ruins of the abbey are situated in a beautiful valley, nearly circular in form, bounded by well-wooded hills; and are surrounded by a stone wall, nearly entire in many places, and mantled with ivy. Near the abbey was a building, called an hospital, occupied by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, where travellers and persons in distress were relieved, and the revenue of which, at its dissolution, was £100; it was founded a little previously to the abbey, and, from the beauty of its situation, gave the name of Beaulieu to the place. About two miles distant, and very near the seashore, is Park Farm, anciently one of the granges attached to the abbey, and which, like others appertaining to that establishment, possessed the privilege of having divine service celebrated in it, under a bull of Pope Alexander I. The chapel is remaining, though much dilapidated, and adjoins the farmhouse, a massive stone building of equal antiquity: its length is 42 feet, and breadth about 14; the interior is divided into two compartments by a stone screen, which reaches to the roof. At a short distance from this, on the road to Beaulieu, are the ruins of the extensive barn and the chapel of St. Leonard, the former measuring in length 226 feet, in breadth 77, and in height 60: here was the principal grange belonging to the abbey.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.