Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu
20th October 1926 – 31st August 2015
by Gill Davis
Lord Montagu died in August 2015, aged 88. He was a great supporter of the 750 Motor Club’s annual Austin Seven Rally, which has been held at Beaulieu since 1963.
Lord Montagu would regularly appear at the rally and enjoyed presenting trophies to the winners at the awards ceremony held at the end of the afternoon. When the 750 Motor Club held its 50th consecutive rally at Beaulieu in 2012, Lord Montagu and his son Ralph invited the club’s committee to have lunch at his home, Beaulieu Palace. As a toast, Lord Montagu plied us with locally grown ‘Beaulieu Bubbly’.
Lord Montagu is survived by his wife Fiona, his son and heir Ralph, daughter Mary and second son Jonathan. Lord Montagu was one of the pioneers of the stately home industry and first opened his home, Palace House, to the public in 1952. At the age of two, Lord Montagu succeeded his father, John, to become the 3rd Baron.
He studied at Eton and then Oxford, after British Army service as a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. In 1948, when he was still in the forces, he made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.
Lord Montagu took over the running of the Beaulieu Estate on his 25th birthday in 1951. His mother and the trustees had previously managed it since the death of his motor pioneering father in 1929.
He later described it as a ‘white elephant’ after finding the £1,500-a-year inheritance barely covered the running costs. "The wise solution was to get rid of it" he said. "For me, however - neither entirely sensible nor rational - that was unthinkable."
He later recounted: "What catapulted me permanently into the major league for the future was the idea of commemorating my father's life - by exhibiting veteran cars.
"Without it, my life would have been very different and I doubt whether I would have been able to remain as owner and occupier of my ancestral home".
Lord Montagu gained an interest in motoring from his father — who had commissioned the original ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ mascot for his Rolls Royce, modelled on his secretary.
Montagu founded The Veteran and Vintage Magazine in 1956 and continued to develop the museum, making a name for himself in tourism. He was chairman of the Historic Houses Association from 1973 to 1978 and chairman of English Heritage from 1984 to 1992. In the 1999 reform of the House of Lords, Montagu was one of 92 hereditary peers who remained in Parliament. He gave a notice of his intention to retire from the House in September 2015, but he died before this could happen.
Lord Montagu’s son Ralph has inherited the title and seems keen to maintain his father’s interest in cars. He learned to drive in an Austin Seven Pearl Cabriolet and enjoys seeing his old car at our rally. More recently, he was at the wheel of his 1903 Daimler at the start of the London to Brighton veteran car run in 2015. Waved on by marshals of the 750 Motor Club, he slowed down and said he hoped to see us at the next Austin Seven Rally at Beaulieu.