Last weekend I was a volunteer driver for DIFF, the Dallas International Film Festival. During the course of the evening, a lovely couple hopped into my car and asked me to take them back to their hotel. I started a conversation and asked if they had a film at the festival. They did…Lord Montague. In the car with me were the director and writer, Luke Korem, and his wife.
Who Is Lord Montagu?
I had not seen the film but I had read about it on the festival website. Here’s what I read:
As the youngest member in parliament and sole heir to his family’s 7,000-acre English estate, Lord Edward Montague’s life was rich and privileged. However, in 1954, Edward, then aged twenty-five, became England’s most infamous aristocrat when he was arrested for homosexual offenses and eventually sentenced to a year in prison. Despite the odds against him, Montagu persevered to become a prominent national figure by turning his estate into one of England’s greatest tourist attractions and leading the way into a new era of the British aristocracy.
I was definitely intrigued and even more so after speaking with one of the writers. Lord Montagu had it all… money, power, British nobility, and an ancestral home, Palace House.
Located in Beaulieu, on the river and surrounded by forest, the house is stunning. It was easy to see why Lord Montagu wanted to keep it in the family. I liked this film even more than I expected to.
Woven into the story of the Beaulieu and Palace House, was the history of England at the time Lord Montagu was arrested, shortly after the end of WWII. Though he was never found guilty, and the evidence against him was sketchy at best, the time was ripe for the scandal created around him.
How Palace House Became A Tourist Attraction
Lord Montagu was one of many noble landowners in England fighting to save his family’s ancestral properties. He was also one of the first to open his home to the public as a museum. However, his arrest on charges of homosexuality had its effect on the number of tourists coming to visit Palace House. That, along with competition from other noble homes opening to the public, found Lord Montagu again struggling to save Beaulieu. As is often the case, the answer was right in front of him all along.
The Birth Of Montagu Motor Museum
Lord Montagu’s father had been one of the first to embrace the motor car and with his small collection, Lord Montagu established Montagu Motor Museum (now the National Motor Museum) – thus securing the financial stability of Beaulieu.
Beaulieu is now a well-known tourist attraction that offers something for everyone: Cars, history, culture, architecture, picnic areas, and rides for the kids.
A final note about the filmmakers, all of whom I met in Dallas: Luke Korem, writer/director; Bradley Jackson, screenwriter; and Russell Groves, producer, are genuinely talented and nice guys. They did a brilliant job of bringing Lord Montagu’s story to the screen with dignity and respect for him and his family. They also graciously supplied me with the photographs for the story.
The movie is currently playing at festivals across the US. Check the Facebook page for updates and locations.
Top attractions and information on Beaulieu:
Palace House and the National Motor Museum are top tourist attractions in the South of England.
The Bond Museum, an adjunct to the National Motor Museum, is home to the largest collection of official Bond movie vehicles in the world.
The name Beaulieu means beautiful place.
Beaulieu Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1204.
Palace House was formerly the Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey and has been the ancestral home of Lord Montagu’s family since 1538.
Beaulieu is one of the ten most magnificent stately homes in Britain and is part of a group of homes called Treasure Houses of England. Each one contains some of the most important art collections in the world. They are architectural masterpieces surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Learn more about Beaulieu