The history of The Montagu Arms in the New Forest

The story so far

Our hotel's story starts all the way back in the 16th century. The first inn on the site was known as 'The Ship' and was a favourite of local farmers and parish officers.

Over time, 'The Ship' was renamed, emerging as 'The George,' and for centuries stood as the vibrant heart of the Beaulieu community. Since as far back as 1607, the inn hosted the annual Beaulieu fairs, alongside weekly markets. It served as a bustling centre for timber auctions, lectures, and boasted its own farmland, including a yearly cattle market until 1809.

The original building front was torn down in 1887, and in its place arose a new arts and crafts style building, complete with Monty's Inn, by the skilled hands of local architect, W. H Mitchell. By 1888, the transformation was complete. Then, in 1926, Bizan and Fletcher added a new northeast wing, shaping the hotel into the form we recognise today.

Since then, The Montagu Arms has welcomed a distinguished clientele. Among them were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famed for his tales of the detective Sherlock Holmes; renowned British actor Henry Irving; esteemed writer Sir H. Rider Haggard; and former French president General Charles de Gaulle.

During World War II in 1943, The Montagu Arms joined several other public buildings as a defensive position for the Home Guard, anticipating potential invasion. A scrapbook containing classified orders, letters, and hand-drawn maps, curated by wartime Home Guard commander Sir Morgan Crofton, sheds light on the reality of the New Forest's own version of the famed 'Dad's Army.'

In 1970, the current owners took possession of the hotel, preserving its status as a cherished, privately owned establishment ever since.

Designated as a Grade II listed building, The Montagu Arms exudes quintessential English charm and enduring sophistication, both inside and out. Its elegant original features, such as oak flooring, panelling, and aged brick fireplaces, create an atmosphere of luxury and comfort - an ideal backdrop for romantic getaways, extravagant weddings, leisurely weekends, or corporate gatherings.

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Meet the team

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Explore the area

Start planning your trip to the New Forest with our area guide, full of things to see and do for all ages.