England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other



NextPrevious

Buckler's Hard

Tides and tools
Overview





Bucklers Hard is situated on England's south coast four miles within the River Beaulieu. The river is entered from the western Solent whereupon it commences its meandering path through the New Forest. Bucklers Hard is the centre of administration for the river and has a fully serviced walk ashore marina, mid-river pontoons, and moorings along with a host of boat facilities in an otherwise remote location.

Bucklers Hard is situated on England's south coast four miles within the River Beaulieu. The river is entered from the western Solent whereupon it commences its meandering path through the New Forest. Bucklers Hard is the centre of administration for the river and has a fully serviced walk ashore marina, mid-river pontoons, and moorings along with a host of boat facilities in an otherwise remote location.

Set within The Solent and deep within the Beaulieu River, Bucklers Hard offers complete protection. Although the river has a moderately shallow sandbar that requires some draft consideration, access is straightforward. It is essential to stay in the channel all the way up to Bucklers Hard.
Please note

The River Beaulieu is best avoided by newcomers in developed southwesterly conditions of F5 or above. In these conditions breakers are possible and the acute turn to port in the entrance may be challenging. The recent addition of newly lit beacons and buoys make the run up the river to Bucklers Hard possible at night.




Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Buckler's Hard



Last modified
February 12th 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 4 or more from SE, SSE and S.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



 +44 1590 616200      river@beaulieu.co.uk     beaulieuriver.co.uk/      Ch.68 [Beaulieu River Radio]
Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

50° 48.002' N, 001° 25.301' W

This is the end of the southwest most pontoon.

What is the initial fix?

The following Beaulieu River entrance will set up a final approach:
50° 46.585' N, 001° 21.390' W
This is set on the 324° T transit adjacent to the Yellow Buoy Fl.Y 4s (Mar - Oct) that sets up the ideal approach to the Beaulieu Dolphin and thence to the entrance.


What are the key points of the approach?

The entry and the run-up thorough The Solent and Southampton Water are covered in
The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal overview.

  • Keep outside the marks approaching the entrance to avoid seaward extending banks.

  • Intercept the 324° T alignment of the front Port red No. 2 pile on Lepe House from the yellow spherical racing buoy and proceed in.

  • Pass The Beaulieu Spit dolphin 40 metres to port then steer for entrance's Millennium Beacon.

  • Follow the closely spaced port and starboard piles through the entrance and the lower part of the river, withies further upriver.

  • Berth as directed; designated visitor moorings in the river, Bucklers Hard mid-river pontoon, starboard side of the river, or the marina, port side of the river.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Buckler's Hard for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Gins Farm - 0.6 miles SSE
  2. Gull Island - 1.1 miles SE
  3. Ashlett - 2.3 miles ENE
  4. Thorness Bay - 2.5 miles SSE
  5. Newtown River Entrance - 2.7 miles S
  6. Hythe Marina Village - 2.9 miles N
  7. Newtown River - 2.9 miles S
  8. Netley - 2.9 miles NE
  9. Lymington - 3 miles SW
  10. Berthon Lymington Marina - 3 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Gins Farm - 0.6 miles SSE
  2. Gull Island - 1.1 miles SE
  3. Ashlett - 2.3 miles ENE
  4. Thorness Bay - 2.5 miles SSE
  5. Newtown River Entrance - 2.7 miles S
  6. Hythe Marina Village - 2.9 miles N
  7. Newtown River - 2.9 miles S
  8. Netley - 2.9 miles NE
  9. Lymington - 3 miles SW
  10. Berthon Lymington Marina - 3 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



What's the story here?
Bucklers Hard on the River Beaulieu
Image: Michael Harpur


Bucklers Hard is situated on the western bank of the beautiful Beaulieu River about four miles upriver from the entrance. The river is part of the Beaulieu Estate and is one of the few privately owned rivers in the world. The river’s private ownership and setting, within the heart of the New Forest National Park, has left it largely unspoilt. This makes it one of the quietest and most beautiful of all the locations in the Solent.

The Beaulieu Spit Dolphin
Image: Michael Harpur
The well-marked river entrance is located about ¾ of a mile westward of Stansore Point. It has a moderately shallow sand bar lying about 250 metres outside the entrance. This is marked by a conspicuous port hand tripod, called The Beaulieu Spit dolphin, Fl.R.5s.

Depths over the Beaulieu River bar vary slightly according to the preceding winter storms. A reasonable expectation would be to find a metre LW Springs. A more conservative measure, from which to work a tidal calculation off, would be 0.9 metres above chart datum that would represent an extremely low water spring tide.

The Beaulieu River is easily entered and exited by avoiding low water. The vast majority of visiting yachts will clear the bar by avoiding the two hours either side of LW Springs, or one hour either side of LW Neaps. Moderate draft vessels carrying 1.5 metres only need to avoid an entry an hour and a half either side of LW Springs, or an hour either side of LW Neaps.

A useful local rule of thumb for vessels departing Bucklers Hard is the depth just off the summer house, near the No. 26 pile and 600 metres below the marina, which is about the same as the bar. So if this is cleared so also will the bar be cleared. Tidal streams outside the entrance are generally eastbound on the flood, westbound on the ebb.

Newcomers should avoid the Beaulieu River in any south westerly conditions approaching Force 5. A Force 5 and above running up The Solent could lead to breakers in the approach. It would also involve a very terse rounding up, immediately within the narrow entrance, all executed with the appropriately named Stone Point being the lee shore.



The summer house on the south side of the river
Image: Michael Harpur


In the past, no night entry should be made unless it is a bright full moon with very good visibility, and the entering vessel has the benefit of local knowledge. Even then it was inadvisable. In 2019 the harbour office added a number of lights to the river on some of the piles and also introduced 6 new lit buoys. All with the aim of making it much easier to enter at night and to proceed upriver to Bucklers Hard. Each light provides a safe bearing to the next with no impediment from the banks.

This makes entry and the accent of the river possible at any time of day. All new marks can be found on the updated Navionics and Admiralty charts and recent almanacs. If there is any uncertainty at night, it is entirely possible to come in the entrance and pick up a mooring near Gull Island or anchor off and then continue up to Bucklers Hard the next day in daylight.


Beaulieu River Harbour Master

Beaulieu River Harbour Office Bucklers Hard
Image: Michael Harpur


All berthing is controlled by the Beaulieu River Harbour Master whose role is to make leisure visits to the area as pleasant and trouble-free as possible. The Harbour Master’s Office is manned 0800-2100 in summer; 0800-1800 in winter (0900-1800 weekends in winter) and are contactable by VHF Ch. 68 [Beaulieu River Radio], Landline+44 1590 616200, E-mailharbour.office@beaulieu.co.uk, Websitewww.beaulieuriver.co.uk. Helpful river staff will be encountered afloat during the summer and they carry a list of suitable moorings. The berthing options on the Beaulieu River include:

  • • Picking up visitor moorings that are marked with yellow ‘V’ label in the river

  • • Taking a marina berth at Bucklers Hard.

  • • Mooring alongside the midriver pontoon at Bucklers Hard.


It is always best to contact the Harbour Office 24 hours in advance to make berthing arrangements. This is particularly the case when it comes to walk-ashore berths in the marina that can be reserved in advance. At peak times, such as bank holidays, it is advisable to reserve a berth as far as possible in advance so as not to be disappointed. Once reserved berths have been allocated, all vessels are dealt with on a first come, first served basis.

2019 rates for visiting yachts, per meter, per vessel, per night, are as follows:

  • • Walk Ashore Pontoon £3.50 (short stay £1.50)

  • • Mid-River Pontoons £2.50 (short stay £1.00)

  • • River Moorings (upstream of Needs Ore) £2.00 (short stay £1.00)

The moorings inside the entrance near Gull Island and the Beaulieu River Sailing Club (1 – 8 marked with a white pickup buoy and a green 'V' plate) are only £15 per night, up to a max of 7 nights. it is possible to anchor in this area for £7 per night.

Short stays are a maximum of 4 hours with the overnight fee applying after 3:30 pm. For electricity on the pontoons add £3 per night. The Harbourmaster kindly request overnight visitors vacate their mooring/berth by midday.

Generally, visitor moorings, marked with yellow ‘V’ label, may be freely picked up. If a designated visitor mooring cannot be located it is permissible to pick up an unused mooring that has no tender attached. After doing so it is essential that the Harbour Office is contacted immediately to see if it is available. Do not leave the vessel until it has been confirmed that the mooring may be used. If, in the interim, the moorings owner returns it should be vacated upon request.


How to get in?
Inside the entrance of the Beaulieu River
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point The Solent and Isle of Wight Route location coastal overview provides approach details. Local hazards for vessels approaching the entrance are the mud banks off Warren Flat and Beaulieu Spit to the west of the entrance. Shallow water extends out half a mile here to Lepe Middle that has a yellow spherical racing buoy. This should not be confused with the Raymarine Buoy that sets up the approach to The Beaulieu Spit dolphin and the entrance.


The dangers to the east of the entrance are Stone Point, marked by a south cardinal that should be avoided. Stone Point is the greater of the dangers as Beaulieu Spit is largely sand and mud. In both cases, it is best to stand off the shoreline and commence an approach from the initial fix.



Stone Point and the entrance through to Gin's Farm
Image: Mike Nicholls retired Beaulieu River Harbour Master


Initial fix location The initial fix is set adjacent to the yellow spherical Raymarine racing buoy. The traditional approach to the river entrance is to intercept the well-established leading marks described on most charts and pilots. This is the 324° T alignment of the front Port red No. 2 pile, exactly on Lepe House that stands on the shoreline within the entrance. The transit passes through the shoal water either side of the leading line and then breaks off for the entrance.


The 324° T alignment of the front port No. 2 pile on Lepe House
Image: Michael Harpur


This alignment takes a few moments to work out as there are a few structures to clarify on the shore, and it can be difficult to work out which pile is the Port red No. 2 pile.


The well spaced entrance piles with Leap House, the Millennium Tower, the
Coastguard Cottages and boathouse behind

Image: Michael Harpur


The red-roofed Leap House is situated to the west side of the Millennium Tower that marks the entrance. A line of old coastguard cottages will be seen to the east of the tower with a prominent white boathouse on the shoreline. After that, it is a matter of identifying Port red No. 2 pile that is the first pile in from The Beaulieu Spit dolphin. Once the spit dolphin is abeam, steer for the Millennium Tower, on the shoreline at the back of the entrance, and follow the pile marks in.


Millennium Beacon as seen from the entrance channel
Image: Michael Harpur
However, since the Millennium Tower has been established this legacy approach to the entrance can overly complicate the navigation. It is perfectly acceptable to simply steer from the initial fix, located 50 metres east of Raymarine yellow spherical racing buoy, to pass 40 metres to port of the outermost Beaulieu Spit dolphin and then commence towards the Millennium Tower. By night follow in the white sector, 334°T of the Dir Oc.WRG.4s Lt on the Millennium Beacon.

The key, in all cases, is to maintain a constant track on the selected marks and not be pushed off course by the Solent’s very strong cross currents.

Millennium Beacon - Lighthouse OC WRG 4s 13m 4/3 position: 50° 47.120'N, 001° 21.888'W


River Beaulieu whitie
Image: Michael Harpur
The path from a position of 40 metres east of the Beaulieu Spit dolphin leads between substantial No. 1 / No. 2 piles that mark the channel entrance. They are located close north of Beaulieu Spit dolphin and are quickly followed by the closely spaced No. 3 / No. 4 and the No. 5 / No. 6 describing the channel behind. The Millennium beacon will be seen in the middle. Once between the No. 1 / No. 2 piles the channel deepens. Best water at the entrance will be found on the starboard side of the channel.





Within the entrance, the channel turns abruptly to port and proceeds west by southwest. It continues to be marked by substantial port and starboard-hand pile beacons for 1¼ miles as far as Needs Ore Point. At night seven of the beacons exhibit lights with the remaining piles carrying red and green reflectors. The green piles mark the mainland's north side of the channel. This commences as a shale beach, at the foot of the Millennium Tower, and then transitions to mud flats and marshland.


The run upriver from port pile No. 16 passing Gull Island and Needs Ore Point
Image: Michael Harpur


On the opposite southern side is the Beaulieu Spit awash or drying and rising westward towards Needs Ore Point. It is possible to anchor or pick up moorings in this first reach of the river as separately covered in the Gull Island Click to view havenentry.


The run upriver from Gin's Farm
Image: Michael Harpur


Above Needs Ore Point the river turns northwest for 0.7 of a mile to the separately covered Gins Farm Click to view haven, home to Royal Southampton Yacht Club. After Needs Ore Point the channel is marked by red and green willow branches, known as withies, that stand on the edges of the channel. A midchannel approach through the increasing lines of moored vessels which themselves serve to describe the lay of the channel and its deeper water. The Royal Southampton Yacht Club midriver pontoon at Gins Farm, situated opposite their clubhouse and jetty on the western bank, should be passed to starboard.


Local boat moorings in the river upstream of Gin's Farm
Image: Michael Harpur


From here the truly beautiful river continues northward for a mile. It now begins to narrow as it winds its way between oak and beech-lined river banks. These tresses conceal enviable country houses set into this attractive wildlife reserve.


Bucklers Hard reveals itself around a river bend
Image: Michael Harpur


At the head of this mile long northern reach, the narrowing wooded river swings hard to the west or port. There, nestled into a bend on the western shore of the river, Bucklers Hard reveals itself. With the exception of the aforementioned mud patch 600 metres downstream of the marina and just off the summer house, near the No. 26 pile, a LWS depth of at least 1.8 metres can be found as far as Bucklers Hard.


Bucklers Hard nested into a bend of the river
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Berth as directed by the harbour master's office on river moorings or alongside in the marina.

There are many designated visitor moorings along the river with a yellow ‘V’ label. These may be freely picked up on a first come first served basis.


The mid river pontoon immediately upstream of the marina
Image: Michael Harpur


The mid-river pontoon opposite the marina has the added benefit of having power. Land by tender at the back of the pontoon where the fuel dock is situated. Alternatively, come alongside the western shore’s marina with its walk ashore pontoons. The marina is dredged to 1.8 metres (6 ft.) below mean low water springs.




After Bucklers Hard the river begins to shallow. Between Bucklers Hard and Bailey’s Hard, 1.6 miles upstream and made conspicuous by the tall brick chimney of the estate's old brickworks, the river has a least draft of 0.3 metres and is navigable for about eight hours a day. The last mile to the quaint old world village of Beaulieu dries out to mud banks and can only be navigated at high water. It is possible to reach the village by dinghy at high water. Alternatively, there is a very pleasant 2 ¼ miles gravelled forest footpath walk from Bucklers Hard to Beaulieu.

The very quaint village of Beaulieu is accessible by tender at high water
Image: Michael Harpur



Why visit here?
The name Bucklers Hard was first recorded in 1768. It took its name from the Buckler family who have been recorded as living there as early as 1664. The term 'hard', a term especially used in Hampshire, was added to indicate this was a firm place that could be utilised for hauling boats out of the water.


Georgian cottages overlooking the River Beaulieu at Bucklers Hard
Image: Michael Harpur


The name Bucklers Hard, however, was nearly superseded by ‘Montague Town’ after John 2nd Duke of Montague. In 1720 he planned to establish a duty-free port here focused on the import and export of sugar from the West Indies. King George I had made him governor of the islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia and John was establishing an expeditionary force to secure his islands. Before his ships could reach the islands the French captured and irrevocably secured them. With the loss of the islands, the plans for ‘Montague Town’ faded and the name drifted back to its locally held ‘Buckler’s Hard’. Despite the loss of the free port the location nevertheless continued to thrive by trading its ready supply of New Forest timber. In the 17th-century, this ample supply of good English oak spawned a rural ship industry focused on the construction of merchant and naval vessels.


The river facing launch ways and 18th-Century shipbuilding village above
Image: Michael Harpur


The first naval vessel to be built on the Beaulieu River was the 48 gun Sailsbury. This was constructed in 1698 at Baileys Hard that is located 1.6 miles upriver, where a tall brick chimney is situated today which dates back to a 1910-20 estate brickworks. Shipbuilding at Bucklers Hard gathered pace in 1744 when it came under the control of the master builder Henry Adams. He came to live in the house at the end of the terrace, now the ‘Master Builder hotel and bar’.


The Battle of Trafalgar
Image: Public Domain painting by William Clarkson Stanfield


Between 1744 and 1805 Adams was responsible for building famous naval ships many of which served in Admiral Nelson's fleet. These included HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon, all of which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. The most famous of the ships has to be Agamemnon of which Bucklers Hard boat yard is named after today. Launched here in 1781 it was Admiral Lord Nelson’s first command and his favourite ship. The wooden shipbuilding industry declined in the 19th-century. The lines of picturesque Georgian cottages running down to the River Beaulieu are preserved today just as they were during the shipbuilding heyday.


Beaulieu Abbey
Image: Public Domain
The River Beaulieu, pronounced Bew-lee, took its name from the abbey to which it belonged. The Cistercian Abbey was founded in the present village of Beaulieu in 1203 – 1204 a very pleasant 2 ¼ miles forest walk from Bucklers Hard. Its Latin name was Bellus Locus Regis, meaning 'The beautiful place of the king'. Over time the monks contracted the monastery’s name to Beau, French for beauty, and lieu from Latin meaning locus place meaning 'beautiful place'.


The king referred to in its original name was King John who had throughout his reign relentlessly quarrelled with the Cistercian Order. He was inspired, by a terrifying dream of damnation, in his latter days to establish the monastery as an act of atonement. John’s return for founding the monastery was that he became an object of the monk’s prayers throughout the Cistercian Order. His Abbey at Beaulieu was going to be a major statement from the outset and he peopled it with 30 monks especially sent from the abbey of Cîteaux in France.


Thomas Wriothesley
Image: Public Domain
It steadily advanced from this royal start and by 1270 it became the largest Cistercian Abbey in England housing 200 monks. By this stage, the ‘Great Close of Beaulieu’, operated no less than five tracts of lands called ‘granges’ spread out through the country where a normal Abbey would only have had one. It continued to thrive until all fell into disarray with Henry VIII's ‘Dissolution of Monasteries’.


Then, in 1538, the river, fertile lands, woods and monastic rights of the Beaulieu Estate passed into the hands of a secular owner Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton. Wriothesley was ‘Clerk to the Signet’, a leading royal servant, and ‘right-hand-man’ to Thomas Cromwell who was the chief architect of the ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’. He is a direct ancestor of the present owners, the Montagu of Beaulieu. His house alongside the Beaulieu River, called Palace House, has remained the home of the Montagu family ever since.


The 18th-Century village at Bucklers Hard
Image: Michael Harpur


With the complete ownership vested to the Monks of Beaulieu Abbey being passed complete to the Montagu family, the river is very unusual. It is one of the very few private rivers in the world. The Montagu family and their stewardship of the 9,000 acres (36 km2) Beaulieu Estate have ensured that the development of the river has been largely controlled. As a result of this, it is both a National Nature reserve and a site of Special Scientific Interest. (SSI). Likewise, the Village of Beaulieu, as with Bucklers Hard, has retained its old-world charm of being the quintessential English village.


The view downriver from the grounds of the picturesque 18th-Century village
Image: Michael Harpur



Today Bucklers Hard is given over to tourism serviced by its small maritime museum, hotel, plus the marina and its surrounding boating facilities. The harbour office is located in Bucklers Hard and it is the centre of all boating activity on the river. From here the harbour master’s team manage the river’s 300 mornings, 110 marina berths and the 7500 yachts or so that visit the river each year. Yet, apart from these numerous moorings and the marina, little has changed from the days when wooden warships were built here. The 18th-century village remains unspoilt by the passage of time and at low tide, the old launch way timbers of bygone times are still visible. The excellent small museum gives a wonderful insight into the history of this 18th-century shipbuilding village that not only focuses on its vessels but also the lives of those that built them. The superbly sited ‘Master Builder's Hotel’, overlooking the Beaulieu River, is truly a wonderful place to enjoy a drink or partake of their waterfront BBQ on a summer’s day.


The Master Builders Hotel that was once home to Henry Adams
Image: Michael Harpur


Beaulieu is now world famous for being the home of the National Motor Museum. It contains one of the finest collections of vintage and classic vehicles in the world. The Montagu family's Palace House is kept in the style of the Victorian era, with household staff in period costume. Visitors can enjoy music in the Lower Drawing Room and play traditional games outside on the lawns. Just beyond the formal gardens are the remains of the Cistercian Abbey that houses an exhibition of monastic life.


A wonderful river berth to enjoy a morning coffee
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, it should not be overlooked that Bucklers Hard was where Sir Francis Chichester began and finished his single-handed voyage around the world in Gipsy Moth IV. The keen eye of the master sailor, to pick the peaceful haven of Bucklers Hard for this purpose, only serves to illustrate that this is one of the perfect sailing havens in England.


What facilities are available?
All pontoons, including the mid-river pontoon, provide water and power. Diesel fuel, petrol and water are available from the fuel pontoon. Ashore the marina has lavatories, showers and a very good coin-operated launderette. The Harbour Master's Office stocks a small selection of necessities such as milk, eggs bread etc. Skips and recycling bins are located within the main refuse compound in the boatyard. There is a slipway that dries out at low water and should not be used 2 hours either side of low water, as it drops off steeply. The harbour office also has a scrubbing grid that may be made use of.

In the yard, there is a chandlery who could not be more helpful, and a boatyard with comprehensive capabilities, sail making & repair, marine engineering, riggers etc. There is also a specialist facility for outboard engines, spares, repairs, accessories, servicing, winterising, are all taken care of here. The yard also has a Renner mobile boat hoist and offers lift out and lay-up and storage facilities.

Eating out in The Master Builder's House hotel’s BBQ overlooking the river is a prerequisite, which serves hot and cold foods and a bar. The museum also has a tea shop.

Marginally better provisioning may found by taking the dinghy, at high water, to the small village Beaulieu. This may be reached via a walk along a 2¼ miles gravelled forest footpath that passes through the heart of the Beaulieu Estate. Beaulieu also has a post office and further dining out opportunities.

The only public transport available is the very useful hourly summer Beach Bus. It runs from the Saltwater Baths in Lymington, stopping at popular attractions such as Lepe Country Park, Exbury Gardens, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, to terminate at the Hythe Ferry.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel in the Beaulieu River.


With thanks to:
Mike Nicholls, Retired Beaulieu River Harbour Master and Adam Lewis, Deputy Harbour Master.


Expand to new tab or fullscreen
Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.





































































An aerial overview of Buckler's Hard




Tourist information


About Buckler's Hard

The name Bucklers Hard was first recorded in 1768. It took its name from the Buckler family who have been recorded as living there as early as 1664. The term 'hard', a term especially used in Hampshire, was added to indicate this was a firm place that could be utilised for hauling boats out of the water.


Georgian cottages overlooking the River Beaulieu at Bucklers Hard
Image: Michael Harpur


The name Bucklers Hard, however, was nearly superseded by ‘Montague Town’ after John 2nd Duke of Montague. In 1720 he planned to establish a duty-free port here focused on the import and export of sugar from the West Indies. King George I had made him governor of the islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia and John was establishing an expeditionary force to secure his islands. Before his ships could reach the islands the French captured and irrevocably secured them. With the loss of the islands, the plans for ‘Montague Town’ faded and the name drifted back to its locally held ‘Buckler’s Hard’. Despite the loss of the free port the location nevertheless continued to thrive by trading its ready supply of New Forest timber. In the 17th-century, this ample supply of good English oak spawned a rural ship industry focused on the construction of merchant and naval vessels.


The river facing launch ways and 18th-Century shipbuilding village above
Image: Michael Harpur


The first naval vessel to be built on the Beaulieu River was the 48 gun Sailsbury. This was constructed in 1698 at Baileys Hard that is located 1.6 miles upriver, where a tall brick chimney is situated today which dates back to a 1910-20 estate brickworks. Shipbuilding at Bucklers Hard gathered pace in 1744 when it came under the control of the master builder Henry Adams. He came to live in the house at the end of the terrace, now the ‘Master Builder hotel and bar’.


The Battle of Trafalgar
Image: Public Domain painting by William Clarkson Stanfield


Between 1744 and 1805 Adams was responsible for building famous naval ships many of which served in Admiral Nelson's fleet. These included HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon, all of which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar. The most famous of the ships has to be Agamemnon of which Bucklers Hard boat yard is named after today. Launched here in 1781 it was Admiral Lord Nelson’s first command and his favourite ship. The wooden shipbuilding industry declined in the 19th-century. The lines of picturesque Georgian cottages running down to the River Beaulieu are preserved today just as they were during the shipbuilding heyday.


Beaulieu Abbey
Image: Public Domain
The River Beaulieu, pronounced Bew-lee, took its name from the abbey to which it belonged. The Cistercian Abbey was founded in the present village of Beaulieu in 1203 – 1204 a very pleasant 2 ¼ miles forest walk from Bucklers Hard. Its Latin name was Bellus Locus Regis, meaning 'The beautiful place of the king'. Over time the monks contracted the monastery’s name to Beau, French for beauty, and lieu from Latin meaning locus place meaning 'beautiful place'.


The king referred to in its original name was King John who had throughout his reign relentlessly quarrelled with the Cistercian Order. He was inspired, by a terrifying dream of damnation, in his latter days to establish the monastery as an act of atonement. John’s return for founding the monastery was that he became an object of the monk’s prayers throughout the Cistercian Order. His Abbey at Beaulieu was going to be a major statement from the outset and he peopled it with 30 monks especially sent from the abbey of Cîteaux in France.


Thomas Wriothesley
Image: Public Domain
It steadily advanced from this royal start and by 1270 it became the largest Cistercian Abbey in England housing 200 monks. By this stage, the ‘Great Close of Beaulieu’, operated no less than five tracts of lands called ‘granges’ spread out through the country where a normal Abbey would only have had one. It continued to thrive until all fell into disarray with Henry VIII's ‘Dissolution of Monasteries’.


Then, in 1538, the river, fertile lands, woods and monastic rights of the Beaulieu Estate passed into the hands of a secular owner Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton. Wriothesley was ‘Clerk to the Signet’, a leading royal servant, and ‘right-hand-man’ to Thomas Cromwell who was the chief architect of the ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’. He is a direct ancestor of the present owners, the Montagu of Beaulieu. His house alongside the Beaulieu River, called Palace House, has remained the home of the Montagu family ever since.


The 18th-Century village at Bucklers Hard
Image: Michael Harpur


With the complete ownership vested to the Monks of Beaulieu Abbey being passed complete to the Montagu family, the river is very unusual. It is one of the very few private rivers in the world. The Montagu family and their stewardship of the 9,000 acres (36 km2) Beaulieu Estate have ensured that the development of the river has been largely controlled. As a result of this, it is both a National Nature reserve and a site of Special Scientific Interest. (SSI). Likewise, the Village of Beaulieu, as with Bucklers Hard, has retained its old-world charm of being the quintessential English village.


The view downriver from the grounds of the picturesque 18th-Century village
Image: Michael Harpur



Today Bucklers Hard is given over to tourism serviced by its small maritime museum, hotel, plus the marina and its surrounding boating facilities. The harbour office is located in Bucklers Hard and it is the centre of all boating activity on the river. From here the harbour master’s team manage the river’s 300 mornings, 110 marina berths and the 7500 yachts or so that visit the river each year. Yet, apart from these numerous moorings and the marina, little has changed from the days when wooden warships were built here. The 18th-century village remains unspoilt by the passage of time and at low tide, the old launch way timbers of bygone times are still visible. The excellent small museum gives a wonderful insight into the history of this 18th-century shipbuilding village that not only focuses on its vessels but also the lives of those that built them. The superbly sited ‘Master Builder's Hotel’, overlooking the Beaulieu River, is truly a wonderful place to enjoy a drink or partake of their waterfront BBQ on a summer’s day.


The Master Builders Hotel that was once home to Henry Adams
Image: Michael Harpur


Beaulieu is now world famous for being the home of the National Motor Museum. It contains one of the finest collections of vintage and classic vehicles in the world. The Montagu family's Palace House is kept in the style of the Victorian era, with household staff in period costume. Visitors can enjoy music in the Lower Drawing Room and play traditional games outside on the lawns. Just beyond the formal gardens are the remains of the Cistercian Abbey that houses an exhibition of monastic life.


A wonderful river berth to enjoy a morning coffee
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, it should not be overlooked that Bucklers Hard was where Sir Francis Chichester began and finished his single-handed voyage around the world in Gipsy Moth IV. The keen eye of the master sailor, to pick the peaceful haven of Bucklers Hard for this purpose, only serves to illustrate that this is one of the perfect sailing havens in England.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Gins Farm - 0.6 miles SSE
Gull Island - 1.1 miles SE
Lymington - 3 miles SW
Berthon Lymington Marina - 3 miles WSW
Lymington Yacht Haven - 3 miles SW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Ashlett - 2.3 miles ENE
Hythe Marina Village - 2.9 miles N
Marchwood Yacht Club - 3.8 miles N
Eling - 4.4 miles NNW
Town Quay - 3.5 miles N

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Buckler's Hard.




























































An aerial overview of Buckler's Hard




Tourist information



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.



Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.