Hampshire SO42 7XB
The Georgian hamlet of Buckler’s Hard is really one big open-air museum with some of the historic buildings open for inspection.
The first house at the top of the street in West Terrace is the Maritime Museum and should be the visitor’s first stop. This excellent little museum recalls the history and development of Buckler’s Hard in innovative and entertaining ways.
Buckler's Hard was a private shipbuilding yard in Hampshire situated on the banks of the Beaulieu River. It got into financial difficulties and was purchased by Master Shipwright, Henry Adams who turned it into a thriving business building ships for the British Navy.
Buckler's Hard is part of the 9,000 acres (36 km2) Beaulieu Estate. The hamlet is located some 2½ miles (4.0 km) south of Beaulieu Village.
The first surprise is the fact that this rural idyll was established as a free port for the trading of sugar from the West Indies and called Montagu Town. We learn how history intervened and it became a major shipbuilding village instead. Two wonderful models depict the busy 18th century shipyard. Other exquisite models illustrate 18th century wooden warship building techniques and the real tools used.
During summer, costumed guides are on hand to guide visitors through the interlinked cottages, recounting tales of the people who lived there. We meet Henry Adams, the Master Shipwright and eavesdrop on the 1790 gossipy conversations of his workers in the re-created New Inn.
Admiral Horatio Nelson
The Nelson Connection exhibit reveals that Buckler’s Hard developed as a thriving shipbuilding village where warships for Nelson’s Navy were built, three of which took part in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. See models of these ships including HMS Euryalus on which the despatch was written containing the news of the great victory and of Nelson’s death. View Nelson memorabilia including his baby clothes, made for him by the citizens of his birthplace, Burnham Thorpe, in Norfolk.
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SS Persia Story
More up to date is this exhibit telling the remarkable story of the P & O liner, SS Persia, its links with Rolls-Royce and the Montagu family and its sinking by a German U-Boat during World War One.
Following the world’s deepest salvage operation of its type, several of the ship’s artefacts, entombed for nearly one hundred years, are on display for the first time, including the door to the Bullion Room, behind which the salvage team had hoped to find the fortune in gold and jewels that the ship was reputed to be carrying.
The War Effort
This interesting exhibit recalls the significant part the village played in the D-Day landings. Learn about the activity on the river during the Second World War; the building of segments of the Mulberry Harbour, which were towed across to the Normandy coast in preparation for D-Day, and the many hundreds of landing craft that sailed from the Beaulieu River to support the Normandy landings. A film presentation tells the story of Buckler’s Hard at war.
Solo Navigator Sir Francis Chichester
We learn all about the exploits of the first solo world voyager, Sir Francis Chichester, who famously circumnavigated the globe in his yacht Gipsy Moth IV, with only one stop.
He held a mooring at Buckler's Hard for many years and received a tumultuous welcome when he returned to the village after his record breaking circumnavigation. There is a map plotting the epic journey and personal items from the voyage along with other artefacts.
19th & 20th Century Village Life
This new exhibition details the transition of Buckler’s Hard in the 19th century from a thriving shipbuilding village to a sleepy rural hamlet and subsequent popular visitor destination in the 20th century. We discover who lived there, the changes that occurred and how it developed. We also hear the story of Stan Seaman who was born, grew up and worked in the village and who entertained visitors through his playing of many traditional musical instruments.
The Shipwright’s Cottage
The re-created interior of the Shipwright’s Cottage in the middle of the West Terrace illustrates the difference in living standards between skilled and unskilled workmen.
The home of shipwright, Thomas Burlace, and his family, demonstrates a relatively prosperous house. Shipwrights or ship's carpenters were skilled craftsmen in short supply in times when England was at war and they could command above average wages. This allowed them to buy decorated tableware, a mirror and, on occasion, small luxuries from the travelling tinker.
Compare this with the cramped one up one down residence of a labourer in ‘The Buckler's Hard Story’.
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St Mary’s Chapel
Hidden behind the front door of No. 82 in the middle of the West Terrace is St Mary’s Chapel. Formally a residence and then a school, it is identified by a sign, a bell and a small statue.
The quiet contemplative chapel has an altar frontal designed and worked by Belinda, Lady Montagu and the centre cloth features the Tree of Life. The tree is also representative of the wood which was used to build the ships at Buckler’s Hard.
Seating only 40 people but welcoming thousands each year, St Mary’s remains a private chapel owned by the Montagu family but is administered within the Beaulieu Benefice and is still regularly used for services of worship.
Smugglers in the 18th century regularly used churches as temporary hiding places for contraband. A viewing window in the floor next to the altar reveals a cellar below the chapel, ideal for storing smuggled goods and the Beaulieu River is believed to have been a major landing point for smuggled goods in the late 18th century.
There is ramped access into the Museum building but the Museum itself is on various levels as it is located within several historic buildings.
There is a Wheelchair Access door to the lower level of the Museum.
Guide dogs are permitted and Guide books are available to explain the 1st floor areas of the Museum and Shipwright’s Cottage.
Level floor access to St Mary’s Chapel and there is a viewing window in the floor next to the altar revealing the cellar below.
An Accessibility Map is available, go to Web: Buckler's Hard/ Accessibility External Link
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1590 616 203
Buckler's Hard Maritime Museum External Link
Google Maps - Buckler's Hard Maritime Museum