About UsThe monastery at Beaulieu was founded in 1204 by King John, and its Abbey Church dedicated to St. Mary in 1246. Most of the Abbey fell into ruins after the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII, but domus, cloisters and refectory remain.
The refectory of the original abbey became the parish church of Beaulieu, and so it has remained ever since. Once inside the church, especially if the sun is shining, you may realise that the church is not oriented - that is, it does not run west to east. Instead, because of its position on the south side of the original abbey cloisters, the church lies north to south and the altar is at the south end.
Since 1538 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.
One of the most interesting architectural features is the prominent stone lectern, from which one chosen monk would read improving books to the other monks as they sat silently eating their meals. The lectern is now used as a pulpit, from which the preacher gives his sermon, or address, during services. The pulpit is approached by a stone stairway cut into the width of the west wall, an unusual feature found only here and in Chester Cathedral.
Either a 'Parish Communion (Common Worship)' or an 'All Age Family Service' are normally held in the Abbey Church on Sundays, starting at 9.30 am. On a fifth Sunday of a month throughout the year, the 9.30 service is held elsewhere in the Benefice. As there are three churches in the Benefice these services alternate between them. Please visit the Benefice website (www.beaulieuchurches.org.uk) and search for the calendar for these services. Everyone is most welcome.