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A little village with a BIG history
The monastery of “Middletun” was founded in 934 by King Athelstan, and was granted estates all over Dorset.
The town grew up south of the monastery and flourished to become the crossroads of Dorset (the London to Exeter road came through here).
There was a weekly market which paid the second largest subsidy of any town in Dorset.
There were two annual fairs where people from all over Dorset came to trade, find partners and find work.
Hard to believe now!
All this changed when Joseph Damer, Lord Milton decided with Capability Brown to create a new landscape which did not include the old Town. This was pulled down in the 1770s, and new cottages erected for his estate workers in the next valley out of sight. This became the village you see today. This was the largest such project in England at the time.
For more on our research into this move see our Old Town Project page.
Impact and Significance of Milton Abbas
Milton Abbas is today a unique village and its 1100 year story is important for understanding our place in society today.
It is an exemplar of:
- a monastery foundation of 934 by the first Anglo-Saxon King of England.
- a major surviving Capability Brown landscape, one of his late works and in the top five of his designs.
- a rare example of a neo-Gothic mansion house by Sir William Chambers, the leading British designer of the 18th century.
- a rare (and the largest known) example of a town removed by the Lord of the Manor.
- a fine example of model village mostly intact since 1780 – open to the public.
- a rare surviving and consecrated Abbey in a rural setting and open to the public, also has a rare and important Augustus Pugin “Jessie Tree” window.
- a complete and unspoilt Abbots Hall of 1498 of national significance.
- 100 listed buildings which can be seen.