Buckler's Hard Maritime Museum Celebrates 50 Years

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BEAULIEU, UNITED KINGDOM – Marc 28, 2013: On the 6th April, 1963, Admiral of the Fleet, Earl Mountbatten of Burma sailed up the Beaulieu River with Lord and Lady Montagu to perform the opening ceremony of the newly created Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum. On the 50th anniversary of that opening, Earl Mountbatten’s great-nephew, Lord Ivar Mountbatten performed a re-dedication of the museum.

Lord Mountbatten echoed the words of his great uncle from the 1963 opening who on that occasion had said: “Buckler’s Hard is famous the world over as a hamlet, unchanged since the 18th century, that has made an invaluable contribution to the history of our country in its production of over 50 warships for the British Navy, three of which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar including Admiral Lord Nelson’s favourite, Agamemnon.”

Mary Montagu-Scott, who has project managed the recent refurbishment of the Maritime Museum, presented Lord Mountbatten with a limited edition David Bell print of Agamemnon.

Over 200 local accommodation providers attended the event along with special guests including former residents of the village. A new display in the Maritime Museum chronicles life in this unique village during the1920s and 30s and the families who lived in its picturesque cottages.

When Lord Montagu opened the Maritime Museum in 1963, it was “to serve as a memorial to the men of Buckler’s Hard who built men-of-war”. The museum was housed in what had been the New Inn and displayed a collection of models, prints and documents gathered by his father, John Montagu, some forty years earlier. These were supplemented by loans and gifts, including some original documents belonging to Master Builder, Henry Adams, donated by one of his descendants.

Fifty years since its opening, the Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum has been updated with new displays including the important role played by the village during WWII and its involvement in the D-Day landings, while the recreated interiors of a labourer’s and shipwright’s cottages and the New Inn show how the village would have looked in the early 1800s.

The Beaulieu River was believed to be a major landing point for smuggled goods from the late 18th century with the cottage that is now the Chapel of St Mary’s a centre of operations. A viewing window in the floor beside the altar reveals a recently discovered cellar below, probably used as a store for smuggled contraband. Another new display in the museum tells this fascinating story along with artefacts recovered during excavations of the cellar.

Also joining the 50th anniversary celebrations was Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht in which Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to complete a true solo circumnavigation of the earth in 1967. Trials for the voyage took place on the Beaulieu River and after the completion of the record breaking voyage Sir Francis returned to receive the Freedom of the River.

On the 6th and 7th April, in celebration of the 50th anniversary, KIDS GO FREE* at Buckler’s Hard, as the village comes alive with fun activities including Victorian games, a fun quiz trail with lots of prizes to be won and swashbuckling pirate tales. Learn about village life from Living History characters, hear rousing sea shanties from the strolling Shantymen and watch traditional craft demonstrations.

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