Movie Review: “Lord Montagu” Is A Must For History Buffs

lord montagu

Review by Mary Sparkman

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

I admit I am no history buff and had very little knowledge (or interest) about Lord Edward Montagu before embarking on this documentary. This starts a bit slow and I wondered what I had gotten myself into for the next 80 minutes. However, as visitors roamed throughout the stately house of Beaulieu, the charming voice of Lord Edward reminisced about the shadows of his past. “All that will be left of me is a painting on the wall…what will people think of me.”

Okay, now this was getting interesting. What is this shadowy past you speak of Lord Edward? His birth had been long awaited by his 61 year old father who yearned for a male heir. After four daughters, Edward’s arrival was a celebration, for now the Beaulieu estate would be passed down to him. Sadly, he inherited it just shy of his third birthday when his father passed away. This ingrained in him at a very early age to be responsible for this property at all costs and to keep it intact for future generations.

Edward proved to be a gregarious showman and as WWII bombarded London with German bombs, Edward knew his precious Beaulieu was at stake. Taxes were rising and maintaining a large, historic house was difficult. Edward made the decision to open his home to the public. It was hugely successful until…Scandal!

Lord Edward, as he stated in his book, never hid the fact that he was attracted to both sexes. In the 1950’s, homosexuality was illegal and suffice to say the combination of a stolen camera, boy scouts, and a swimming hole, a trial ensued and it took a huge toll on Edward and a steep decline in visitors and profit for the Beaulieu estate.

Edward did spend time in jail on charges of homosexuality and indecency. Many felt the jail time was unreasonable and Edward had been made a scapegoat. This high profile case became the catalyst to change laws decriminalizing homosexuality.

Edward weathered this storm and went on to revive Beaulieu into a thriving museum adding a motor car display in honor of his father. The Beaulieu house was so successful that other stately homes tried their own gimmicks to lure visitors. But no one could top Edward who continued to add to the fairground type atmosphere. His was known as the Disneyland of stately homes.

Edward lived a life of resilience and held an obligation to treat his inheritance as a gift to the people of London. He was a driven and extraordinary man. This film is a must for any history buff.

Available on all major VOD platforms June 17th


James McDonald
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