THEY were the private rooms where a Hampshire peer running one of Britain’s top attractions could escape the public gaze.
Now the inner sanctum used by the late Lord
Montagu has gone of show for the first time, giving visitors a unique insight into the man behind the success of the National Motor Museum.
The flat is part of the Montagu family’s ancestral home, Palace House, most of which has been open to the public since 1952.
Lord Montagu died almost a year ago, aged 88. His widow Fiona has since moved to London and the new Lord Montagu, his son Ralph, has chosen to remain in his own home elsewhere in the village.
The events of the past 12 months have enabled the family to open parts of Palace House that were previously out of bounds to the public.
They include a library that Lord Montagu used as a sitting room and office.
A Beaulieu spokesman said: “He was a great devotee of opera and this is where he would play his records.
"When the windows were open visitors approaching Palace House could sometimes hear his favourite music playing across the lawn.”
The entrance to the library is through a door disguised as a bookshelf.
A corridor and one of the former guest rooms are being used to display Russian works of art from the Art Russe Foundation.
About 25 paintings and sculptures will be exhibited in the house until a permanent gallery opens in the grounds next year.
Palace House is also staging an exhibition about Pearl Pleydell-Bouverie and Elizabeth Montagu – the late Lord Montagu’s mother and half-sister respectively.
As reported in the Daily Echo, Elizabeth starred on the West End stage before studying music in Switzerland and travelling across Europe during the 1930s.
During the Second World War she worked for the British Secret Service and helped de-brief a Nazi double-agent involved in the plot to kill Hitler.
The new Lord Montagu said: “Pearl Pleydell-Bouverie was born in 1895 and became the chatelaine of Beaulieu when she married my grandfather John in 1920.
“Her devotion to the estate and the family over the following decades ensured continuity during some very difficult years.
"She came to be loved by everyone in the community and remained here until she died in 1996, aged 101.
“Elizabeth Montagu rejected the social conventions of the time, preferring to travel and mix with some of the leading artists and musicians of the period.
“Her career started with acting and went on to include modelling, intelligence work and film production.
"Happily her final years were spent back at Beaulieu, where she died in 2002.”