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Lord Montagu (2013) - full transcript

The fascinating inside story of Lord Edward Montagu, one of England's most controversial and iconic aristocrats.

(male narrator)
If we were talking about
you or talking about me,

being into history would
mean studying it

and getting out a book
and learning and reading

about things.

Lord Montagu was born into
history of the Montagu family

in this place.

It's not a subject
that he's keen on.

It's his life.


(male #1)
"I have lived here
for over 85 years

"and every day I welcome
hundreds of complete strangers

into my home."

"They read the captions,
study the pictures

"and learn stories about
my ancestors.

"I am but one link in the
chain of overseers

"stretching back over
five centuries.

It has been my life's work
to preserve its history."

"Like those before me, one day,
all that will be left of

"me is a painting on the wall.

I wonder what people might
think when they see it."

"There are shadows in my past
I've tried hard to forget,

"but now I hope to
bring them to light

and share with you my story."

"My father, the second
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu,

"had waited 36 years
for a son and heir.

"He was apparently quite
stunned to find that after

"four daughters in
his 61st year,

"he had finally had a son
to inherit his title

and the family estate."

(Susan Tomkins)
Lord Montagu was born
on the 20th of October,

1926 at his grandmother's
house in London.

It was a great event for the
Montagu family and his father

in particular because he'd
waited a very long time

for a male heir to his
estate at Beaulieu.

And it said that in celebration,
the swans on the Beaulieu River

all rose up as one,
flew into the sky.

(Fred Norris)
It was the joy
of the place.

When we were in school,
we were given badges

to wear in the lapels
of our coats.

On the green surround,
were the initials,

Edward John Barrington
Douglas Scott Montagu.

(Ann Chichester)
It was great excitement.

It was you see, all us girls and
no son and heir for Beaulieu,

so it was very special that
suddenly my father and mother

had a son.

(Mary Clare Horn)
We were all brought up
at Palace House,

which you can imagine is a
wonderful place to be

and we had all the garden,
we had the river,

we had sea and it was just one,
big happy family.

We were very, very lucky.

We didn't realize
how lucky we were.

(Oliver Tobias)
"In March 1929,
my father died, age 62.

"I was just two and a half
years old.

"I treasure it, to this day...

but it is the photo of
a father I never knew."

(Susan Tomkins)
After he died in 1929,
things became quite difficult.

Lord Montagu was two and a half
years old at the time.

The estate was put
into trust for him,

to inherit on his
25th birthday.

(Ralph Montagu)
At the time he became
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

at age two and a half, I don't
suppose he even understood

what the title meant and
as he was growing up,

he would no doubt
have been told,

"Well, one day all
this will be yours."

(Oliver Tobias)
"My inheritance
would be 10,000 acres

"of unspoiled countryside on the
southern coast of England,

known as Beaulieu."

"In 1204, King John granted the
land to the Cistercian Monks

"and it was they who created
this great landscape.

"Located in the heart of the
New Forest, there are

"2,000 acres of woodland,
five miles of seashore,

and eight and a half miles
of river."

"And at the center,
lies Palace House,

"a 13th Century
stately home.

"This estate had been carefully
nurtured, preserved

"and passed down from
generation to generation

and now, it was entrusted
to me."

(Lord Montagu)
Having inherited the title
at the age of two and a half,

I can never remember a
time when I was

not aware of my privileged

As little Lord Montagu, I was
always giving away prizes at

ploughing matches or officially
turning on new water supplies

on the estate, or being
photographed with the Bishop,

or raising the flag
on Empire Day.

And as I grew older,
my responsibility towards

the estate increased.

Even as a child, I felt it was
a sacred trust to conserve

my inheritance and to hand
it over as intact as possible

to future generations.

(airplanes flying)

(radio announcer)
There were more
German planes over the

coast of Britain today than at
anytime since the war began.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The most obvious collision
between the outside world

"and the enclosed one of

"was the coming of World War II.

"By the early 1940s, everything,
from the pristine countryside to

"the main thoroughfares of
London had been hit

by German bombs."

"In 1945, the war
was finally over,

"but the destruction of
our country's heritage

"would continue.

"All across England, hundreds of
our nation's stately homes were

"being destroyed and my home
in Beaulieu was in jeopardy.

(Sir Roy Strong)
During the 50s,
one great house a week

was either abandoned, purposely
demolished or blown up.

It just went on and on and on.

(Ralph Montagu)
The years that followed the war
were a very difficult one

for the owners of stately homes.

A lot of things
were against them.

Costs were rising
very significantly.

The repair bills had to be met,
but the money that the owners

owned was taxed to the point
which there was nothing left.

(Oliver Tobias)
"When I formally inherited
Beaulieu, age 25,

"I was informed the estate
was nearly insolvent.

"The post-war depression
had dried up

"much of the country's wealth.

Maintaining a large historic
house seemed nearly impossible."

Everything was really depressed.

Everything, and so stately
homes' sort of lovely idea

of golden minarets and so on,
just wasn't on the agenda.

(Simon Howard)
People looked at these houses
and thought,

"Well how are we going
to keep these houses up

"if we want to keep them
in the family.

What are going to do with them?"

A lot of houses demolished,
a huge amount.

(Oliver Tobias)
"During the 1950s,
more than 1,500 stately homes

"were destroyed in what
became known as the

destruction of the
country house."

(Sir Roy Strong)
The country house in England
is really one of its

great cultural glories,
absolutely one of the

central English creations.

(Oliver Tobias)
"Primarily built between the
16th and 19th century,

"the stately homes of England
served as some of the

"largest employers of the area
and entire local economies

once flourished from
their land."

"Influences from Baroque to
Renaissance, their architecture

"and beautiful landscape parks,
are a reflection

of England's unique history."

(Sir Roy Strong)
England is not about the sea.

It's about land and the
focal point of that

was the great house.

It was the center of
civilization, culture,

style, wonderful gardens,
all the great artists

and architects are represented
in the country house.

(Lord March)
One is trying to maintain
a very important part

of the national heritage
and at one's own expense

and sometimes that's impossible.

(Oliver Tobias)
"I considered giving my home
to the National Trust

"or turning it into flats
or a hotel.

"I could have sold it all
and spent the rest of my life

"on a beach in the Bahamas,
but deep down,

I knew this was unthinkable."

He knew he was the most recent
in a long line of owners,

so to sell it and give up
that would have been

a complete betrayal to
the rest of the family.

(Murray Walker)
He is a nobleman
and frankly, in Britain,

you don't necessarily expect
noblemen to be good at anything

other than being a nobleman.

You don't expect them
to be good businessmen.

(coin drops in slot)

(Lord Montagu over speaker)
This is Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

and I welcome you to Beaulieu.

You are now standing in the
cloisters of Beaulieu Abbey.

Nearby is the Parish Church.

Beaulieu is one of the
most recent houses to be

open to the public and the
gatehouse chambers

have been turned into a museum.

The normal man or woman in the
street wouldn't normally

get access to seeing
such grandness.

With all the
beautiful paintings,

whether they be in
Van Gogh or Ginsburg,

all these sculptures
that they had,

all the magnificent
furniture they had,

all the carpets and tapestries
which were suddenly,

the stately homes opened,
Lord Montagu's was one of them.

(James Harvey-Bathurst)
The draw of these houses were,
they were enormous,

they were behind walls,
they were secret

and people wanted to know
how the aristocracy lived.

(Sir Roy Strong)
So there was a kind of
curiosity value about

this semi-extinct breed,
actually emerging from their

houses and doing things which
seemed to be perfectly normal.

(Nick Mason)
There was a change.

Everyone had to make a living.

They couldn't just live off the
inherited wealth and if they

were going to preserve it,
they had to work really hard

to do that.

(James Harvey-Bathurst)
Edward was not frightened of

drawing in the visitors,
talking about his house.

He was very gregarious.

(Murray Walker)
And I think above all, relating
to the people that came.

I mean, he went up there
and greeted and met the people.

And he's a showman.

Edward is a showman at heart.

(Ralph Montagu)
There's a great picture of my
father on his hands and knees,

scrubbing the floor
at Palace House

and this was in the papers,
just before the house

opened to the public,
but there's little doubt

that this was set up.

First of all, I don't think
he would have scrubbed

the floor himself.

Second, it was a wooden floor
and who scrubs wooden floors?

He always laughed at that photo,
because you don't wash

a wooden floor.

He made this much, much bigger
than it would otherwise

have been.

It was his personality
that drove it.

(Oliver Tobias)
"In our very first year of
opening Palace House

"to the public, we had
over 70,000 visitors,

"more than double my most
optimistic predictions.

The future looked set."

"In 1954, my life changed."

The whole aspect of the trial
was an absolute nightmare.

Well, what everybody knows,
but I don't find

it something I want
to talk about.

Not as a family,
we never talk about it.

My father never really talked
to me about the trial.

I got the slightest, and I do
mean slightest inklings

in my teenage years that
something strange and horrible

happened to him.

The Montagu trials were
the biggest gay trials,

the biggest gay event,
since the trials of Oscar Wilde

at the end of the 19th century.

It's got everything.
It's got society.

It's got intrigue.

It's got glamour.

It's got sex.

It really does allow the
press to go to town

and tell this amazing story.

Homosexuality in Britain in
the 1950s was totally illegal,

whether in private or in public.

The most common offense
was gross indecency,

which carried a sentence of
up to two years hard labor.

(Ralph Montagu)
In his book,
my father makes it clear

that he has always been
attracted to both sexes.

(Oliver Tobias)
"I could see this
was by no means unusual

"and realized I was not alone.

"I liked the company of girls
and I enjoyed going to bed

"with them, but I could not
deny that I sometimes

"felt much the same about men.

"In retrospect, I do see that
I was bound to be caught

in a clash of cultures."

There were two trials.

The big one, the most
infamous one, was in 1954,

but there was one before that,
which really started the

whole process off in late 1953
when a group of Boy Scouts

were staying at Beaulieu to act
as guides in the house

during a busy period.

(Dr. Matt Houlbrook)
The Count of Montagu,
he goes to a beach hut

on his estate at Beaulieu
to look for a camera

that had been stolen.

(Oliver Tobias)
"My brand new 16 millimeter
cine camera had gone missing,

"so I decided to search
for it in my beach hut

"a few miles away.

"I asked if any of my
house guests would like

"to accompany me for a swim
and search for the camera.

"Kenneth Hume, who was a friend
and a local film maker,

and two of the four Boy Scouts
agreed to come along."

The Count of Montagu and Hume,
the whole visit to the beach hut

was completely innocent,
but they went to the beach hut

and then took a swim
while they were there

and simply got changed
in separate rooms.

The two Boy Scouts, by contrast,
even though they changed their

stories, the stories that they
told to the police on a

number of different occasions,
the two Boy Scouts alleged

that they'd been
sexually assaulted.

(Oliver Tobias)
"At the committal proceedings,
it was unnerving

"to hear a 14 year old Boy Scout
assert categorically,

"that I had taken
sexual advantage of him.

"It was even more shocking
because it was described

"by the boy in graphic detail,
smiling as he gave

his verbal evidence."

The court was not persuaded
by the demeanor of the boys,

which was slightly jokey.

The two Boy Scouts contradicted
themselves on so many occasions

that the veracity of their
evidence was undermined.

Now, there is some attempt to
bring medical evidence

of an indecent assault, but that
in itself is inconclusive.

Throughout the trial period,
the person that my father

most confided in was his
elder sister, Elizabeth

and some years later,
I interviewed her

and asked her to tell me
what she remembered.

(Elizabeth speaking on tape)

(Elizabeth speaking on tape)

(Oliver Tobias)
"In the end, the jury did not
believe the scouts' testimony

and I was cleared
of the principal charges."

He was free and I'm sure he felt
the worst was behind him.

Unfortunately, in the new year,
another bombshell hit.

(Oliver Tobias)
"At 8 AM, on the
9th of January, 1954,

the police arrived
at Palace House."

(Ralph Montagu)
When they failed to
secure a conviction in the

first trial, there's no doubt
they would have felt humiliated.

This is a huge thing to have
done, to bring a prosecution

in open court against
the peer of the realm

and then for the charges
to collapse.

That really doesn't look good
for the police

or for the Director of
Public Prosecutions.

And so when evidence came up
and they could take the man

back to court, they leapt on it
with great relish.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The evidence that led
to my second arrest,

"derived from a seemingly
insignificant chain of events,

dating back more than a year
prior to the first trial."

(Matthew Parris)
There was an affair going on
between a young journalist

called Peter Wildeblood,
and an aircraftman,

a member of the Royal Air Force,
called McNally.

(Dr. Matt Houlbrook)
Peter Wildeblood is a journalist
who was just about

to make the move up to be
the Daily Mail's

diplomatic correspondent
and he was good friends

with Lord Montagu.

(Oliver Tobias)
"On the 21st of August, 1952,

"I hosted a small
party at my beach hut.

"Peter Wildeblood and
Edward McNally were invited,

"along with another RAF man,
John Reynolds and my cousin,

Michael Pitt Rivers."

(Ralph Montagu)
Yes, they had a fun dinner
together and he says

yes, they put some music on
and there was a little bit

of dancing, so as far
as he was concerned,

it was all a very
innocent affair.

What seems to happen is that
at some point over the winter

of 1953-1954, the RAF
authorities are going through

McNally's personal possessions
and find there,

a number of letters, letters
written from him to Wildeblood.

(Matthew Parris)
They were in love
with each other

and in one of these letters it
was mentioned that the

two of them had been down
to Montagu's place

and it was there,
with that revelation,

that the whole thing started.

The charge against Lord Montagu
was inciting certain male

persons to have sexual relations
with certain other male persons.

(Dr. Matt Houlbrook)
Basically, his role in the case
is defined as bringing together

or creating opportunity for
Wildeblood and Pitt Rivers

to have sex with
McNally and Reynolds.

You'd probably find it very,
very hard to understand

what went on,
why did it happen?

"My arrest for homosexual
offenses could not have come

"at a worse time.

"Britain was in the midst
of the Cold War,

"and two MI5 agents,
Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean

"had recently defected
to Moscow.

"Both men were discovered to
be spies and they were gay.

"This led to the notion that
homosexuality was associated

"with Communism and should be
viewed as a security risk.

"Egged on by the national
press, the police were

"on a mission to liberate
British society of these men,

especially those in
positions of power."

Unfortunately, for Lord Montagu,
at this particular moment,

with the climate out there
of scandal mongering,

this came at that unfortunate
time and acted as a catalyst.

Effectively, McNally
and Reynolds were blackmailed

by the police.

If you give evidence
against the defendants,

you won't be prosecuted.

They were nobodies.

No one had heard of them and the
really big prize the police

were hunting were the peer of
the realm and the journalist.

(Fred Norris)
And we all felt
that he was a scapegoat.

Because of who he was, the
police were really after him.

And we felt so sorry for him.

"For the first time,
I realized that there were

dangerous snakes in the grass."

(Matthew Parris)
The press, of course, fell with
great glee on this trial.

We all understand that the
media can whip things up

in a nasty way.

And that's what they did.

(Matthew Parris)
They used the handle that they
knew their readers would find

most exciting and that was the
fact that a peer of the realm,

Lord Montagu, was involved.

He's a young, glamorous,

fashionable man about town.

He's a high profile figure in
society columns

and social networks of
Mayfair and the countryside.

Because he has that sort of
profile, it's a great story.

It's the sort of story of a
great man's potential

decline or fall.

(Jeffrey Weeks)
The trial took place in the
great Hall of Winchester.

There were 19 charges in all,
brought against the defendants,

Montagu, Pitt Rivers, and Peter
Wildeblood and they involved

a variety of sexual activities,
gross indecency,

anal intercourse.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The first few days
were the worst

"because they consisted of the
prosecution presenting

"their case and the
charges themselves,

"the constant repetition of
conspiracy, gross indecency

and buggery, making them
sound revolting."

What became absolutely evident
in the second trial

was the class prejudices
of all concerned.

If aristocrats, very rich people
wanted to do

naughty things in private, fine,
but when classes were being

mixed, working class or airmen,
members of the armed forces were

doing things with aristocrats,
people didn't like that.

"I was regarded by the older
generation of the establishment

"as a traitor to my class
and although this notion

"looks ludicrous now,
in those days the class system

was rigid to an extent,
unbelievable today."

Strangely enough,
throughout the trial,

my father was actually engaged
to a lady called Ann Gage,

but sadly, that didn't survive
and she broke it off.

(Oliver Tobias)
"At half-past four on the
24th of March, 1954,

a jury delivered their

(Dr. Matt Houlbrook)
It was quite simple.

Montagu himself is convicted on
the charge of conspiracy

and sentenced to 12 months'

Wildeblood and Pitt-Rivers
are sentenced to 18 months'


(Oliver Tobias)
"After the jury announced
its verdict, my counsel,

"Bill Fearnley Whittingstall
addressed the judge.

"His words were
measured and somber

"and I shall always
remember them.

"Whatever the future may hold,
in the past,

"he was a useful member
of the House of Lords

"and a kindly landowner.

He is faced with
a bitter future."

The whole thing just seemed
so unfair and so unreasonable.

It's very difficult to know
how to put it into any kind of

proper perspective and clearly
even at the time,

there were those saying,

"This is wrong, this
shouldn't be happening."

(Matt Cook)
Montagu was really quite young
at the time of the trial.

He was just 27.

If you look in broader
perspective at what

a prosecution for homosexual
offenses could mean

at this time, this was really
potentially devastating.

Many people committed suicide.

Many people had their lives
completely destroyed.

Historians have traditionally
seen the trial as a moment

of which public opinion
does shift.

So later in 1954, the Home
Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe

sets up a departmental committee
on homosexual offenses

and prostitution, also known
as the Wolfenden Committee.

And basically recommended that
homosexual activity

between men in private
should be decriminalized.

There is no doubt that this
trial was the catalyst,

almost the trigger for the
changes to the law

that were to take place.

[cell door rattles
and slams shut]

(Oliver Tobias)
"At an otherwise low moment,
this was a sort of solace.

"I did not have to deal
with the constant press,

"worry about earning a living,

"nor dwell upon my
confused sexuality.

"I was still very much in love
with Ann and kept her photo

"in my cell.

"Overall, I used my time in
prison to reflect

and plan for the future."

It was a sorry affair,

but it didn't lock him down.

(Elizabeth speaking on tape)

(Elizabeth speaking on tape)

Our generation just can't
conceive what happened anyway.

It's just-it's staggeringly
ridiculous anyway,

but even to us, you just think,
well it's just madness.

That can't have happened,
but it did not that long ago

and it happened to a friend of
mine and it shouldn't have

happened to a friend of mine.

My father told me that
when he was younger,

people used to use the word,
Montagu, as a polite way of

suggesting that
somebody was gay.

We have a number of different
euphemisms and one of them

used to be,
"Is he a bit of a Montagu?"

You know, that kind of thing
never goes away.

People always kind of remember.

I think as a human being,
he had this incredible strength

to rise above it.

He didn't go and
hide in a corner.

(Matthew Parris)
It would take a lot to sink him,
I think.

There's a resilience.

(James Harvey-Bathurst)
Edward's nephew told me that he
came out of prison on a Friday.

On Sunday, Edward's mother said,

"Alright, we're
going to church."

She took him on her arm up the
aisle into the family pew

so everybody could see
it was over.

Because it's certainly,
in my experience,

wasn't the first gay aristocrat,
by any means...

nor the last.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The Montagu case was certainly
a watershed moment in my life,

but I was determined
for it not to define me."

"My priority was to return
to my beloved Beaulieu

"and make it clear to everyone
that I was returning

"unashamed to the helm.

"This, after all,
was my heritage

and I was responsible
for its future."

"Over the past two years, during
the trial and my imprisonment,

"Beaulieu had remained
open to the public.

"However, my public image
had been shattered

"and our visitors in numbers
were decreasing.

"By this time, there were
hundreds of other stately homes

open to the public, all in need
of generating income."

Later on, it became
absolutely obvious

that as there was more
competition in the

stately home business and the
visitor attraction business,

Beaulieu had to change.

It couldn't just stay
exactly as it was.

By historic house standards,
this is a tiny historic house.

England is famous for its
massive historic houses.

This is really quite small.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The first point I accepted
was that Palace House was not

"an architectural masterpiece,

"like Castle Howard

"or Chatsworth.

"And although I had one
of the oldest houses,

"it did not have the
major historical appeal,

"like Blenheim where Winston
Churchill was born.

"These major stately homes
virtually sell themselves,

"and I was well aware we were
not in that class.

"I needed some attraction to
make the visit to Beaulieu

special and unique."

The eldest son, historically,
has been the

inheritor of not just the land,
but the house, the paintings,

the jewelry and in some cases,
the collection of cars.

"This was a notion that came to
me almost fully fledged,

"as I lay awake in bed
one night.

"Like most of the best ideas,
it was very simple.

"So much so, that in retrospect,
it seems extraordinary that

no one else had already
thought of it."

Here is a Daimler,
similar to the one in which

King Edward took his first ride.

And here, a 1904 Vauxhall.

Outside, we find a
De Dion Bouton being started up

by the present Lord Montagu.

[engine starts]

He wants to do something to
commemorate his father's life

and that really was what that
first display of old cars

in the front was all about.

The Lord Montagu's father was
one of the leading lights

when the motorcar was
almost at its birth.

Anybody who had any
interest in reading

the motorsports magazines
or the motoring magazines,

would have been able to tell
many tales of the

Montagu heritage in line
with the motorcar.

(Oliver Tobias)
"My father was one of Britain's
great motoring pioneers

at a time when the motorcar
was not accepted."

The early motorcars were an
extraordinary combination

of noisy, rattly, dirty things
which of course,

ran on roads which were not
tarmaced so the dust

was enormous.

(Murray Walker)
People didn't like them.

They regarded them
as socially divisive.

Cars were just not
socially acceptable.

And there was a time, actually,
in this country,

where if you were in a motorcar,
you had to have a man

with a red flag walking in front
of you to warn people

that a motorcar was coming.

Most people didn't like
the horseless carriage,

purely because it was a
sign of A, you're rich,

B, they were noisy,
smelly things, you know

and people I think didn't
trust them.

(Sir Jackie Stewart)
Suddenly, the horseless carriage

doing the ridiculous
speeds of 10, 15,

even 20 miles an hour.

(Michael Ware)
They really weren't at all
popular and one of the

first things the motorcar
people had to do was really

a public relations movement
to get themselves accepted.

(Ben Cussons)
John Scott Montagu very much
was the motoring spokesman

in Parliament,
obviously as a peer,

he sat in the House of Lords
and he was the first man

to drive a car to the
houses of Parliament.

Well, he was a really
enthusiastic early motorist

and the main thing he did was
he also introduced the car

to the royal family.

Lord Montagu's father invited

my great grandfather,
King Edward VII

down to Beaulieu, in order
to have a look

at this strange thing
called the motorcar.

And he gave the whole automobile
movement a good kick start.

Once you get the Royal Family
on board, socially,

that made an enormous

So, Montagu's father introduced
royalty to motoring

in this country and
motoring changed the world,

changed this country and
this guy started it all off.

(Oliver Tobias)
"I was intensely proud of my
father's achievements

"and always felt a sense of
deprivation for not knowing him.

"So this small display of his
memorabilia seemed like

"a fitting tribute.

I had no conception how
much it would change things."

(Mary Montagu)
He just put the cars in the
front hall of the house

because they were interesting
old cars and very soon

he realized that the public
were really, really interested

in these old cars and he
thought, "Wow, what a good idea.

I'm going to collect
more old cars."

You really only saw old cars in
the sort of big London museums

like the science museum
and places like that.

The London science museum,
for instance,

had several motorcars, but it
also had several airplanes

and several ships and several
everything, but there was

no dedicated motor museum
at all.

(Oliver Tobias)
"When I first conceived the
idea, the main drawback

"was that I had only
one veteran car.

This was my father's 1903,
six horsepower De Dion Bouton."

And Edward came to my father
and asked him for help

because my father had a lot
of contacts in the motor world

and he and my mother came to
live in Palace House

and my father helped Edward
develop what was then,

basically a large wooden hut.

(Oliver Tobias)
"As we searched for cars to fill
our humble museum,

"I saw that many of the old cars
my father once treasured

"were being sold for
pences on the pound,

or finding their home
in scap yards."

We turn to look at now,
to a 30s Rolls Royce

and it looks to be something
that's stunningly beautiful.

Forty years ago, they were ugly.

They were just old, ugly cars.

I mean, you could go
and buy a C-Type Jaguar

for 200 or 300 pounds
and now you're talking

four or five million.

He recognized the value
in the heritage

in these cars at a time
when many of them

were being chopped up and
cannibalized and he realized

that we were dealing with the
same way a great piece of

architecture, that if you
knocked the building down,

you destroyed history.

(Sir Jackie Stewart)
He had a garage, if you like,
of magnificent cars,

that normally people would not
get up close and personal with.

(Graham Robison)
He, more than anyone else,
inspired people to look upon

older motorcars as being
worthwhile, worth looking at,

learning from, when other
people treated them as junk.

In 1958, one of the very first
cars that Lord Montagu

actually went out and
collected to restore,

was this 1909 Rolls Royce.

This car was virtually derelict.

It was a breakdown truck
and it was then a flatbed truck

and was found with no body work,
just a box for a seat

and in a really,
really rundown state.

And he did so much research
into this car to find its

original body, the original
styling, the wheels,

even down to the German silver
for the radiator.

This Rolls Royce is very
important to Lord Montagu

because it's a tactile link
with the memory of his father.

In fact, the mascot that you see
mounted on the radiator of every

Rolls Royce produced today,
known as the Spirit of Ecstasy,

was commissioned by
Lord Montagu's father.

(TV Interviewer)
Of course, you've got close
family connections

with Rolls Royce.

Your father was partly
responsible for the lady mascot,

wasn't he?

(Lord Montagu)
That is correct.

My father commissioned his
official artist on his magazine,

Car Illustrated , a man called
Charles Sykes to design

a mascot and the mascot's model
was my father's secretary

who was a very beautiful
Edwardian woman,

called Miss Eleanor Thornton.

(Doug Hill)
They were lovers and she was
actually on board the SS Persia

when it was torpedoed at
the start of the Great War

and she was killed in
that torpedo attack

and John Scott Montagu survived.

And Eleanor Thornton was
immortalized in the

Spirit of Ecstasy.

(Ralph Montagu)
Another thing that makes
the Silver Ghost special

is that it is the same
model that my grandfather had

and I'm sure he likes to feel
that he's experiencing all the

same emotions as he drives
that car as his father did.

(Oliver Tobias)
"To some, an old car may just
be an old car, but for me,

they are part of our memories."

(Graham Robison)
The sort of people who were
coming to Palace House,

they were in their
50s and 60s usually.

They were of the sort who were
looking at a motorcar and say,

"My goodness, my father
used to have one of these."

And you can look at your wife
or your son and say,

"If you turn this knob here,"
and "You push that button here,"

that happens.

Fascinating to have a museum,
a collection of cars,

all doing different things to
arrive at the same result.

(Oliver Tobias)
"The motorcar is one of
man's greatest inventions

and the story of its
evolution fascinates me."

(Nick Mason)
Really, he was ahead of the
enormous enthusiasm

for cars that was developing.

(Oliver Tobias)
"Unlike during my father's time,
the motorcar was now

"reasonably affordable
and socially,

it was becoming very popular."

It wasn't something which
only the nobs had.

It was something that everybody
could associate,

from somebody who had a
Rolls Royce to somebody

who has just got a little old
tin pot Austin 7

and that was a stroke of genius.

This is Beaulieu and here comes
one of the veteran cars

that everybody comes to see,
for this is the home of the

famous Montagu Motor Museum.

I don't know whether it
was a conscious plan,

but it was almost as if he
smothered people's recollection

of the bad publicity with new
publicity about him,

which was good.

(male announcer)
Lord Montagu at the wheel of a
64 year old De Dion Bouton

and having trouble, but it's
all in the cause of safety.

He was demonstrating a new
motorway safety device which

could save many lives.

It's the horn blower system.

(Gerry Wadman)
He needed to be approachable.

He needed to get to know people
and he was genuinely interested

in people, he was genuinely
interested in motoring

of all sorts.

(Sir Jackie Stewart)
Eventually he said, "Well the
cars look so good,

why don't we show them off?"

(male announcer)
Don't run away with the idea
that these old masters

are just showpieces.

At rallies like this, they
have to prove their worth

with exacting efficiency.

In this time section,
points watched are braking,

reversing, maneuverability
and parking.

(Gerry Wadman)
Lord Montagu decided that the
way to get people to come,

was to come and see other
people enjoying their cars.

Motoring, certainly for a lot
of the British people,

is a passion and he exudes
that passion in bucket loads.

He was infected by the motorcar
and all that went with it.

I think him great
because of his enthusiasm.

Very enthusiastic and certainly
fired me up.

(Oliver Tobias)
"For the next several years,
Beaulieu was host

"to all sorts of motoring race,
from cars, to motorcycles

"and even bicycles.

People came from all across
the country to participate."

You can't say "Beaulieu"
without thinking of

motorcars and the Montagus.

(Murray Walker)
The Montagu Motor Museum
became tremendously popular

because of Edward Montagu's

(Oliver Tobias)
"The museum reached new heights,
when in 1957,

"we acquired the Golden Arrow,
the first car ever to

reach 231 miles per hour."

That's the sort of thing that
made this collection unique.

Within three years, in 1959,
the popularity and success of

this first Montagu Motor Museum
was so great,

that it was becoming the
main attraction at Beaulieu.

We were getting 100,000 people
here and that's

a hell of a lot of people
to cram into sheds.

The demand, actually,
the supply, and almost

immediately the public
was saying, "We want more."

(TV program male announcer)
And on this fine
April day in 1959,

hosts of strange vehicles are
converging upon the peace

and quiet of Beaulieu,
to celebrate the opening

of a new extension
to the museum,

housing over
200 historic exhibits.

Feast your eyes on one of the
largest gatherings of veteran

and vintage cars and motorcycles
the world has ever seen.

Over an enclosure, Lord Montagu
welcomes his guests.

The big moment is nearly on us.

They read about it in the
papers and now they may even

see themselves on TV.

Lord Montagu now comes to the
microphone with his fiancé,

Miss Belinda Crossley,
by his side, their wedding

less than a week away.

For him, today is a great
occasion, the culmination of

years of unremitting work.

(Lord Montagu)
Lord Robinson, ladies
and gentlemen, since 1952,

it has been my aim to try
to set up in this country a

national museum of transport.

Today, this dream
has been realized.

(Oliver Tobias)
"Thus, after seven years,
the Montagu Motor Museum

"was properly established
and Beaulieu had become

"a major tourist attraction.

"Our busiest day was followed
by our busiest year.

"From then on, annually, we had
over half a million visitors

"and for guests arriving by
helicopter, we painted

"Montagu Motor Museum
on the roof.

"In 1958, I rediscovered
Belinda Crossley

"and I was very happy,
as were all the family,

when she accepted me."

Well, he was a neighbor,
really, who I didn't know

very well and who I got
to know more and more.

When we were married,
part of our honeymoon,

we took a traveling exhibition,
four cars, motorcycles.

I am not crazy about cars.

There are other things that I
am more interested in,

but I enjoyed going on rallies
and the people and the interest

of seeing other places
and driving, I enjoyed.

(male announcer)
Lady Montagu in her 1909 Humber,
a wedding present

from her husband draws
up to Palace House.

I was very much conscious that
one had to produce an heir

and it was very lucky that
Ralph was born, a son.

(Oliver Tobias)
"In 1961, Belinda and I
welcomed our first child

"into the world and I was
very excited it was a boy.

"We named him Ralph,
after the great

18th Century Duke of Montagu."

Oh, he was delighted,
absolutely delighted.

And fired a cannon off
in front of the house.

[cannon shot]

Well, Mary was born
three years later.

(Mary Montagu)
We were brought up in a
very old fashioned way,

even for the time in the 1960s,
to be brought up very separate,

in a wing of the house with a
nanny who was here day in

day out, never took a day off.

By the time I was born, it was
already a very established

business and huge numbers of
visitors came into the house

and it was very obtrusive.

(Belinda, Lady Montagu)
Living in a house which is
open to the public

is quite difficult because you
really, your privacy is,

you have to guard very much.

(Oliver Tobias)
"Sacrificing one's privacy was
the price I was prepared to pay

"to keep my home.

However, it was perhaps
my wife and children

who had the most to put up with.

(Ralph Montagu) [as a child]
Well, I remember when I was
a little boy,

I used to shout, "Go away,
you horrible people"

and that's how I stopped
that question.

As a little boy,
I obviously didn't like

the sight of all these people.

I didn't realize they were
bringing money, you know.

I just thought they were
invading us and I would stand

up at the window and bang on
the glass and say,

"Go away, you horrible people.

I don't do that anymore.

(Belinda, Lady Montagu)
And it wasn't just the
paying customers.

It was the staff too because we
had offices in the house

and so there were always
people around.

You come out of your bedroom
and there's half of the public

walking down in front of you
and I can remember seeing

Lady Montagu, sticking her head
around her bedroom to see

if there was anybody
in the corridor.

We are now in the public part
of the house,

which the tourists visit,
but the really intriguing part

of the house is behind this door
here marked 'private'

and this is where the Montagu
family actually live.

(Lord Montagu)
My family and I live
in a flat in Palace House

and we do try to lead as normal
a family life as possible.

But when you live on top of
a shop, your home life must

inevitably suffer.

Edward, one day, when there was
a visitor visiting his house,

this chap set up his picnic
on Edward's private lawn.

Edward wasn't very amused by it,
so he went outside and said,

"Excuse me, this is the
private section of the house."

Chap said, "Well you're
open and it's public

so I am having my picnic here."

So, Edward said,
"Okay then, fine.

Would you mind signing the
visitor's book while you are

here and put a name, address"
and chap duly did it.

Next weekend, Edward plus
chauffer, I think

in a Rolls Royce, turned up
at this chap's garden,

set up his picnic, to the fury
of the guy in the house.

Quite an amusing story, but it
sort of tells what we had to

put up with and at the same
time, you know, what the public

are expecting us to do
in return.

(Lord Montagu)
It was somewhat traumatic
at first, but now, I suppose

I'm used to the lack of privacy,
to the smell of humanity

in the house.

If they were suddenly
to disappear, I think

I would miss them.

(Ralph Montagu) [as child]
Alright, now here...

We have the only entrance to my
house and inside we've just

been having tea.

On that end, we have a table
and a chair and sometimes

the steam engine.

Here, we have our
television aerials as is.

(Lord Montagu)
Tours around his house
are free now, but one day,

Ralph would inherit the whole
estate and already I know he

feels a special responsibility
towards Beaulieu,

as I did at his age.

(Ralph Montagu) [child]
This is what I own now
and that is all of,

round the river and Beaulieu.

(Ralph Montagu)
Growing up in Palace House
was not a sort of normal family

experience and yet for us,
of course, it was all we knew.

We had, my father often
entertaining guests,

quite often celebrities,
almost like members

of an extended family.

We got to know anyone who worked
here, whether it was the cashier

or the guides in the house or
the managers or the secretaries,

the receptionist, they
were all around us.

(male announcer)
Six pence on the
train for the kids.

Dodge 'em cars, model trains,

The full fun fair spread is
theirs while car lovers spend

their five bobs in the museum.

(Lord Montagu)
I think this is probably
one of the secrets of

the success of Beaulieu,
is that we are an outing

for the whole family.

One of Lord Montagu's great
attributes was thinking up

new events to be held
at Beaulieu.

It was a very jolly place.

There were sort of fair ground
rides that Lord Montagu

had introduced.

There was a hovercraft here, one
of the very first hovercrafts.

There was a train
parked in a field.

It was a bizarre mixture of
things in this very traditional

English countryside setting.

All sorts of extraordinary
things went on here

and some were very successful
and some, not so.

It's like a guy banging a drum
outside a theater,

saying, "Come on in,
we got a great show here."

He was fun and as he started
doing his commercial activities,

others followed suit.

A number of stately homeowners
realized that they needed

some other gimmick
or attraction.

Now, at Longleat, for example,
it was lions.

[lions roaring]

(Marques of Bath)
But instead of humans
going around

and looking at lions in their
cages, humans kept in the cage

of the car and drove in amongst
the lions, was the general idea.

(Ralph Montagu)
All sorts of different ideas
were tried and tested

whereas at Beaulieu we were
very happy to stick with cars,

thank you.

They don't need
feeding as often.

(male announcer)
Welcome to the world of wheels.

They called Beaulieu the
Disneyland of stately homes.

Lord Montagu doesn't mind.

He'd give up anything
before giving up Beaulieu.

He brought ideas to the market
and he was setting the standard

and some followed at quite
another stage, but also,

that generation of aristocracy,
they would be the

older generation, which should
have been quite old fashioned

and they would have looked down
on what Ed was doing.

Well, he would have been
thought of, within that period,

as really being the height
of vulgarity.

I have actually used the word,

I mean, not being that kind of
old fashioned Englishman

and turning the place over in
that kind of crude,

commercial razzmatazz way,
been regarded as letting

society down and we don't really
want to invite him to dinner,

do we?

He was daunted, naturally
and a bit lonely.

It was difficult for him because
it was his peer group,

thought this is terrible that
he was being very commercial.

(Fiona Montagu)
I mean he was much maligned
by the aristocracy.


I mean, his name was mud,
that dreadful,

commercial Lord Montagu.

(Sir Roy Strong)
And for a lot of his life,
he didn't really care a damn

what anybody thought.

He got on with it and did it and
what must be very satisfying

to him, is that... uh...

he proved to be right.

♪ The stately homes of England,
we proudly represent. ♪

♪ We only them up for
Americans to rent, ♪

♪ Though the pipes that supply
the bathroom burst, ♪

♪ And the lavatory makes
you fear the worst, ♪

♪ It was used by Charles I ♪

I mean, he exuded energy
and he knew where

he wanted to take things.

His leadership in the
early days was...

it was incredibly important.

All stately homeowners must
remember now that there

is no place in this world
for a gifted amateur.

And I think if it
hadn't been for him,

then it may have died a death.

He was always brought up with
a very deep sense of history,

which carried him through
and made him a national figure.

And he made it fun, too.

That's quite important.

♪ But still if they
ever catch on fire, ♪

♪ which with any luck,
they might. ♪

♪ We'll fight for the
stately homes of England. ♪

When you charge people money
to see your home,

you have to make sure
it's worth looking at.

Thank you, Barnfield.

Times being what they are,
we do a lot of the decorating

at Beaulieu ourselves with
Color Plus paints.

Color Plus comes in 74 colors,
so you should find

one or two you like.

We did.

Treat your home like
a stately home.

Excuse me, Sir, are you really
Lord Montagu's butler?

Oh, no, he would only
be the star.

He would never be an extra.

Lord Montagu of course has a
very wide variety of friends,

in show business.

(Mary Montagu)
He always wanted to go backstage
and see the stars.

This is a big feature of
my father.

He loves the celebrity.

(Ralph Montagu)
Well, my father loves celebrity
and as a child,

I met some of these people.

I can remember Diana Dors,
Roy Orbison.

Cher did a TV special here.

None of the Beatles
sadly ever made it,

but Mick Jagger came and then
later Liberace came one day

with his friend,
Michael Jackson.

So, we've seen all sorts
here over the years.

(Andrew Lancel)
Describe the scenery
of a Edward Montagu party.

It's sort of Chekhov,
Shakespeare, Hockney,

Dali on acid.

Hundreds of people all in
themed costume and in all cases,

of course, Lord Montagu right at
the center and also

the life and soul of the party.

Great party man,
loved dressing up.

Absolutely bizarre
extraordinary man.

All the activity
he ever did were always

very short and quick.

He would go boat and he'd go
for like an hour,

have lunch, come back again,
do something else.

If he wanted to read a book,
he'd speed read the book,

put it down and then
do something else.

He had such an amazing
amount of energy.

He was doing so many
different things.

Edward Montagu is a
multi-faceted character.

I came across him in Australia,
in Perth when we were on tour

and suddenly there was Edward
and Prince Michael and they

were doing some car rally
across the Australian desert.

He'll pop up anywhere
in the world.

He was a kind of walking
ad man or a driving one.

Lord Montagu is one successful,
aristocratic entrepreneur.


Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen.

I'd like to welcome you
to this esteemed festival.

Later on we have the entire cast
of the musical 'Hair',

coming from...

As the business grew,
you could say there were

mixed blessings.

Yes, there was more money coming
in, the business was able to

grow, but he did somewhat lose
sight of his own family's


We have a special announcement.

Lord Montagu is here in the
museum this afternoon to

autograph catalogs
and guidebooks.

My father loves to be in the
spotlight and for his children;

that is not necessarily
the case.

I mean, Ralph, you know,
didn't like being in the

media spotlight so much and
found it hard and I think

for all of us growing up here,
that was certainly something

that was a conflict.

(Ralph Montagu)
It was very busy when my father
was here, but he would also

travel a lot to promote
Beaulieu and so,

there would be a long time
when we didn't see him.

He was so focused on Beaulieu
and on his life,

you know, we didn't
see him much.

We didn't do much with him.

When your home is your business,
as it is here with us,

one has all sorts of

You never can really escape
from your business life.

It can't... it's with
you all the time.

I always feel that my mother
left my father,

primarily because she had become
disillusioned with Beaulieu

and I think that was
particularly because she was

no longer as influential
as she had been in helping

develop the business.

And, I think she felt sidelined
and no longer able to

play the role that she had been,
which was sad.

She was rather,
sort of left in the...

out in the cold a bit.

(Oliver Tobias)
"In retrospect, I now see my
intense desire to keep my home

"and heritage that caused me
to lose sight

of my own family."

My father was very sad,
but he didn't, uh,

linger too long.

Once he realized it was
inevitable, um, he couldn't

bear the thought of Beaulieu
not having a lady of the manor.

(male announcer)
Lord Montagu has wanted
a quiet family wedding,

a top drawer do with the wraps
on, but when you're a baron

of the English aristocracy with
12,000 acres to your name,

plus Britain's top stately home
and motor museum,

then perhaps you must expect a
photographic scrum down

on your wedding day.

So, Beaulieu was becoming
more and more commercial

and I think Edward looked at me
and thought, yeah, she...

she would be good.

And so then he told his brother
he was going to marry me,

didn't tell me and
his brother told me

and I said,
'Oh no, oh no."

And then, Robin said, my brother
always gets what he wants.

He's so charming.

And so I said to him,
"Well I think you're very nice,

but you must be hell
to be married to."

And he went, "Oh, why?" with
his big eyes and his charm.

And thereupon I remember my
husband flew to New York

to talk to my friend in New York
and lined up all my friends

from Rhodesia and he got
them all on his side.

I mean he's... he's an operator
and our son is a bit the same.

It definitely wasn't
much like any of my other

friends' childhood I think,
you know, I actually found it

wonderful living here, but it
certainly took a sort of amount

of adaptation to be surrounded
by people the entire time.

Apart from here, apart
from the estate, where,

like the beach hut, for
example, where you really

can go and relax, I always felt,
you know, some what sort of

on show the entire time.

My father can be challenging to
work with because he's extremely

impatient and very energetic
and I think like quite a lot of

successful people, has amazing,
uh, sort of attention

deficit disorder.

Thankfully, I am somebody who
has a lot of energy too,

so I can kind of keep up with
him, but I know that there were

times where there was just
way too much going on.

I think when I married him,
I thought,

"Well I won't be bored."

And now, I quite often
long for a dull day.

The way we live here,
we're open seven days a week.

Um... we live above the shop.

It's absolutely psychologically

I remember one particular
morning, I went to the window in

our bedroom and I looked out and
I was just quietly gazing across

these lawns and Edward rolled in
and said, "What are you doing?"

And I said, "I'm doing
nothing, I'm being."

And he said, "But I had two or
three meetings,

I've been on two television
shows, I've launched a boat."

And I said to him, "Well, why
not try and be a little

and not do so much?"

(Oliver Tobias)
"Sometimes, I wonder if I've
gone mad, subjecting myself

and my family to these crowds,
I seem so eager to attract."

"But for Beaulieu,
it is good business."

Edward's only bride ever
was Beaulieu.

He just loves this earth, so if
he ever had to sell this place,

it would have been terrible.

So, he had to build it up.

He was brought up with that
from the age of three,

to believe that that was his
whole life, so I suppose

he's always known that
was his destiny.

I find it difficult to imagine
growing up in a big house

like this and on an estate
without forming

a deep attachment to it
and I certainly have.

If you have anything as
precious, as beautiful

as this piece of countryside,
you do feel responsibility

that you have to treat it
with great love and respect.

(Mary Montagu)
You know, that's why we're here
is to keep the

historic fabric together,
to keep it all going.

This is about a family that
is a part of this place.

They always have been.

They always will be.

They are dedicated to it and
they grow up, having to take

what it is and having to make of
it what they can in the future

and Lord Montagu, of course,
has done that

in a particular way.

(Oliver Tobias)
"I firmly believe that
places like this,

"originally built for the
pleasure of the few,

should now be enjoyed
by the many."

In 1971, the Montagu Museum
is moving into new,

bigger and better premises.

And of course, the center
of the whole thing,

is a new museum building
of great splendor.

This is going to
cost a lot of money.

That was quite difficult to
achieve because we were talking

about a large sum of money,
which he had to borrow.

(Murray Walker)
I sat round the table
with Lord Montagu,

all his advisors and directors.

I said, "We don't think
we should do the museum."

Lord Montagu says,
"I'm going to do it."

He is like a dog with a bone,
and so the people around

him just have to say,
"Well alright, if that's

what you want, we'll do that."

(Ken Robinson)
You have to remember that he was
making this business work

from a starting point where
there wasn't enough money

to pay for the running of the
estate, so it was always,

always going to the next
bit of possibility.

The occasion was the
official opening of the

National Motor Museum.

(Sir Jackie Stewart)
It was another opportunity for
tourism in the United Kingdom

to boast of something that was
unique to our country.

And people came
from far and wide.

(Duke of Kent)
And I would like to congratulate
Lord Montagu himself,

who has had the energy
and the enthusiasm to see

this enterprise through
to its completion.

You have to realize that in 1972
when the National Motor Museum

was opened, Edward Montagu
had lived down, frankly,

being unacceptable
in British society.

And it says a lot for him that
he has been able to weather that

storm in his life, which would
have flattened most people.


Today, I am indeed a happy man,
to see a dream realized.

So now, after 20 years, it is no
longer my museum; it is yours.


He collected some really great
racing vehicles

and very historically it was,
but he also has an eye.

In people's memory, someone can
say, "Yeah, your grandfather

had one of those."

Or, "I remember going on
holiday in one of those"

and that's a great thing.

Take it, there are larger
car museums with

literally hundreds of
Bugatti's lined up,

but they never did
tell a story.

I most respect Lord Montagu
for having carried on the

legacy of his father, to have
been as proud of his father

as he is and to have laid
down something that Britain

will be proud of
long after he's gone.

When you look back at what
sort of a man he is

and what he has achieved,
it is a tribute to what

one man can do with his life.

History is riven with people
who have fallen

and then never rise again and
I think it's an extraordinary

tribute to Edward that he
managed to, like a Phoenix,

rise from the ashes.

I think one of the important
lessons I've learned

from my father, is that you can
delegate many things in

this type of business, but one
thing you can't delegate is,

sort of being yourself.

Edward, if you're listening to
this, I'd just like to say

what fun it was, all the
things we did and thank you

for having me as a trustee.

You've done more to put motoring
on the map in Britain than

anybody and we salute you.

I think he will be one,
among that handful of people

who were able to leap
over the wall, as it were,

and began that journey to making
an English country house,

in all its glory,
something for everyone.

The world crumbles around us,
doesn't it?

I mean, some things get better,
but most things seem not to

and there are some things that
are timeless and it needs a

Lord Montagu to make sure that
they do remain timeless,

qualities, values, beauty,

That's what he's
given to other people.