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make a funeral specialA Hampshire village is preparing to say an emotional farewell to the man who was at heart of the community for almost 90 years.

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu’s favourite car – a 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost – will be used to transport his coffin to his funeral at Beaulieu Abbey Church on September 10.

Villagers are planning to line the streets to say goodbye as the peer makes his final journey.

Lord Montagu gained an interest in motoring from his father — who had commissioned the original “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot for his Rolls-Royce — and with his family collection of historic cars this led him to open the National Motor Museum in the grounds of his stately home, Palace House, Beaulieu, Hampshire, in 1952.

His oak coffin will rest on a specially-built extension to the car as it passes through the clockhouse gate and drives through Beaulieu before returning to the National Motor Museum.

After the funeral he will interred beside his parents in the family burial ground, which is just behind the church.

His eldest son Ralph, who becomes the new Lord Montagu, said: “My father made no stipulations regarding his funeral but the car was very closely associated with him over the decades and we all thought it would be a fitting way of conveying his coffin.”

Lord Montagu, pictured below, was often photographed in the vehicle, which was little more than a chassis when he bought it in the mid-1950s.

In 1981 he used it to give Liberace and fellow superstar Michael Jackson a chauffeur driven tour of the museum grounds.

Lord Montagu died aged 88 on Monday after succumbing to what his family describe as a combination of pneumonia and complications arising from old age.

After being treated at Southampton General Hospital he spent the last few days of his life at Palace House, surrounded by friends and family.

His son added: “He was very well supported by district nurses and nurses from Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington, which operates a home service.

“His death has left a huge gap as a father and head of the family. Members of the Beaulieu staff are also feeling his loss and have been very supportive.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, crippling costs meant the young Lord Montagu was faced with the prospect of selling Palace House.

At one stage it looked as if the historic 13th century building might be turned into flats or a hotel.

But he saved the building by becoming one of the first peers in the country to open his home to the paying public. He also established a motor museum as a tribute to his late father, motoring pioneer John Montagu.

His son said: “Everyone here is aware that a great energy and force that led Beaulieu for many years is no longer with us.”