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Milton Abbas, Dorset

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Location: Milton Abbas, Dorset, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Milton_Abbas Dorset
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Category: Milton Abbas, Dorset

Milton Abbas is a small village in North Dorset. Formerly known as Myddleton or Mylton. It is unusual in that the village now called Milton Abbas has been completely relocated from it's original position and rebuilt It may have been the first planned, 'model' village in England

In the early 10th century, King Athelston is said to have been camping on St Catherine's hill when he had vision that he would defeat the Danes in an forthcoming battle. This proved true and in gratitude he founded a church on the site overlooked by the hill. Some thirty years later, King Edgar established a monastery there with the church becoming an abbey. The monastery continued in existence until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. During these centuries the small town of Mylton (Myddleton) developed outside the abbey walls.

After the monks had departed, the abbey property was bought by Sir John Tregonwell. His family lived in the abbey buildings and the church became the parish church.

The Tregonwell family continued living in Milton Abbas until 1752 when the estate was sold to Joseph Damer, who became Lord Milton, Earl of Dorchester. Damer was immensely wealthy but wanted seclusion and quiet. He was not happy with the fairly prosperous town on his doorstep . He came to particularly dislike the grammar school, close to his home which disturbed his seclusion with the noise and pranks of mischievous boys.

With the help of Capability Brown, the landscape gardener he removed the town and recreated the landscape. Every building, bar two cottages was eventually demolished. Most of the old abbey buildings were replaced with a modern mansion house. Part of the Abbey church itself was retained as a private chapel. He closed some roads and diverted others. He had originally intended to flood the valley to make a much bigger lake than the one he eventually built. He was prevented from doing this as he could not get a large enough head of water (a neighbouring land owner went to court over his creation of a dam). Other opposition came from lawyer who had leases on 4 properties but Damer deliberately flooded one of his houses .Damer lost the ensuing court case and these properties could not be emparked until after the lawyer's death. It also took Damer several years to get the necessary parliamentary approval to move the grammar school.

Some of the villagers were relocated down the hill to a new location, out of the sight of Lord Milton's new home. A street of houses were built to a specified design. These houses complete with their thatched roofs look picturesque and are now in private occupation. However, some buildings may have held 20 people (four families) A new school and a new church were built along with a forge, Inn and other business premises, The Almshouses originally built by the Tregonwells were removed the building rebuilt down in the new village. The grammar school was relocated to Blandford Forum.

The estate did not stay long in the Damer's possession. It changed hands many times and is now the site of a public school. The Abbey remains and is used by the school and the local parishoners can attend some services there and have the right to marry there. Access at other times is by a muddy footpath up the hill where once stood the town of Mylton. References :

http://www.abandonedcommunities.co.uk/page21.html ( includes excellent map of the original town, drawn up for Damer, showing who occupied each plot and how many 'lives' were left on each lease)
The Dorset Historic Towns Project report on Milton Abbas (in particular part 5 Historic Development ) https://www.dorsetforyou.com/article/392995/Milton-Abbas---historic-towns-survey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Abbas#/media/File:Milton_Abbas_2015_(a).JPG (picture of street today with 'model' houses)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Abbas#/media/File:Milton_Abbey_Church_2015_(a).JPG (picture of Abbey Church)

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