Milton Abbas Local History Group
Jobs to do
Please contact us here if you would like to help us, or need more information.
We need to study the Dorset Quarter Sessions books, and the Plea Rolls, especially for the 18th century.
We need to look for instances of Milton Abbas and its people in newspaper archives, especially the early ones.
We need to examine the Land Tax records which we have transcribed so that we can see the continuity or otherwise of the tenancy in the critical period of the move of the town, the last quarter of the 18th century.
We need to study the demographics from the baptisms, marriages and burial registers of Milton Abbas from 1651 onwards and compare the movements of names of people in the parish with those of adjacent parishes. Our priority is to do this for the 18th century to see what changes the removal of the Old Town caused.
We need more social research of the 18th century: for example were constables appointed for every parish or for the hundred? Where was the lock-up? How was the pound used? How many people travelled by coach?
We need to compare the censuses to see the changes in population 1841 – 1911 and the changes in overcrowding of the tenants.
We need to study the architectural history of the cottages of the Street built in the 1780’s – were they designed for two families or four?
We need to research the holdings of the Dorset County Museum.
We need to compare this Abbey town with other local manor parishes, such as Clenston, Stickland, Ibberton, Wooland, Cheselbourne and Milborne St Andrew. How did life compare for the rural poor and yeomen.
We had John Wellsteed born in Milton Abbas on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. We need to research his life.
We would love to find an 18th century author who wrote about rural life of the labourers. Thomas Hardy is very informative of 19th century rural life, for example Tess of the D’Urbevilles, but we cannot find the like for earlier times. Books such as Tom Jones, Pamela, Rides Round Britain, etc feature the middling sort or aristocracy, not the labourers. We can’t find any diaries of these people either. We have the Diary of Thomas Turner in our Library It gives us a real picture of rural life in a small village.
Apart from some small excavations to the west of the Abbey in the 1950’s there has been no archaeological survey – wouldn’t it be great to get some geophysical surveys done.
We know that there was a town south of the Abbey at least since 934, but there is not a shred of evidence for Anglo-Saxon occupation. Metal detecting and field walking could provide the vital clues to their presence.
Landscape or field archaeology might also prove useful for determining the layout of the dwellings, roads and fields in Anglo-Saxon and medieval times.
LIDAR data covering the whole of England will soon be freely available. We need to download this onto a GIS.
We have large scale maps and plans of 1652, 1770, 1806, 1852, 1902 and today with names of fields, roads and tracks. It would be great if we could get the information off these maps into a database or GIS so that we can find places which are referred to in documents such as the Quarter Sessions Order Books.
We also need to measure the field sizes and their use as arable, pasture or meadow. We need to digitally overlay the maps to see the changes which have taken place. We need to identify the fields and farms to individual tenants.
We need to compare and overlay these maps with modern aerial or satellite images.
We need to locate the old roads and tracks before Lord Milton moved them. They need to be plotted using GIS so that we can understand the routes that pilgrims and travellers took.
We need to record the Capability Brown landscape of today in summer and winter, preferably by using a drone at a horse rider’s elevation. This needs to be compared with the views that were designed to be seen by Lord Milton’s family and his visitors.
The structure and furnishings of the Abbey and St Catherine’s Chapel need to be recorded in high resolution images to produce 3D views, and to compare with images from the 1950’s survey of the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments.
We need to record all the listed buildings and monuments – there are about 100.
For those interested in 20th century history, we have residents today who have lived in Milton Abbas for many years. Their oral histories need recording.
We are enormously grateful to our correspondents in Canada, Australia and England who have done a tremendous job of transcribing. We are always looking for more – so if you would like to help please contact us here.
We have transcribed the Overseers of the Poor 1771 – 1798, but still have 1799 – 1830 to do.
We have nearly completed transcribing the Churchwarden’s Accounts of 1750 – 1777, but still have 1729 – 1749 to do.
We are making good progress with transcribing Settlement papers, and Bastardy papers for Milton Abbas, but still have a few more to do.
There are many wills still to transcribe, and we have high resolution images of documents of court cases from The National Archives relating to the time of Jacob Bancks and Lord Milton which need transcribing.
Maybe we could use crowdsourcing to expedite the transcribing.
We would like to publish ‘A History of the Tregonwell Family’, Sir Mervyn T Medlycott, 1969.
We would like to publish our findings.