DiCamillo Companion

Milton Abbey

  • House & Family History: In 1539 Sir John Tregonwell purchased, for £1,000 (approximately £6 million in inflation-adjusted 2016 values, using the labour value commodity index), the monastic buildings of the Benedictine Milton Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and converted them into a mansion house. In 1752 Joseph Damer purchased the estate and engaged Sir William Chambers to demolish the old abbey buildings, save the abbot's hall (built in 1498 by Abbot Middleton), and construct a new country house in the Gothick style, which he did between 1771 and 1774. Though the exterior of the house genuflects to the Gothic, the interiors are all in the Neoclassical style of Adam. Joseph Damer married a daughter of the 1st Duke of Dorset and was created Viscount Milton in 1753 and Earl of Dorchester in 1792. The family of the 2nd Earl of Portarlington, who inherited Milton Abbey in the 19th century, sold the estate to Lord Hambro in 1852. In 1932 the Hambros sold up: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners purchased the house in 1933, which they used for a time as a healing center, and the grounds were bought by a trust to establish a school, Milton Abbey School, which today also occupies the house. (Sir Charles Hambro purchased Dixton Manor in 1945 as the family's new seat).

    Comments: Arthur Oswald, writing in "The Country Houses of Dorset": "...the magnificent landscape planting has made the park one of the glories of Dorset."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: A pre-1811 folly in the style of a Gothic chapel is extant. There are also two pedimented ashlar lodges, possibly designed by Sir William Chambers. In 1771 Lord Milton took the decision to move the entire village so that it would not be visible from the windows of the new mansion house he was building. He engaged Chambers to design the village and Capability Brown to landscape it (Brown was paid £105 in 1773 for his designs).

    Chapel & Church: In 1789 James Wyatt was engaged to restore the Abbey Church. St. Catherine's Chapel, which lies on a hill near the church, is a Norman flint building with a grass staircase leading up to it.

  • Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1789
    Designed: Resoterd Abbey Church

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    Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1775-76
    Designed: Took over after Chambers resigned. Designed decoration of rooms on 1st floor and bookcases in Library for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.

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    Architect: John Vardy Sr.

    Designed: Miscellaneous work for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.

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    Architect: Lancelot Brown

    Designed: Grounds for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.

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    Architect: George Gilbert Scott

    Date: 1865
    Designed: Restored Abbey Church. May have designed North Facade of House.

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    Architect: William Oldham Chambers

    Date: 1771-74
    Designed: Built new house, incorporating Abbot's Hall, for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.

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  • John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. IV, 1828.

    Country Life: XXXVII, 734, 770, 1915. CXXXIX, 1586, 1650, 1718, 1966. CXL, 152, 208 plan, 1966.

  • Title: Buildings of England: Dorset, The
    Author: Newman, John; Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1999
    Reference: pgs. 289, 291-293
    Publisher: London: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0140710442
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Times, The (London newspaper)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Jun 9, 2006, Bricks and Mortar Section, pg. 28
    Publisher: London: Times Newspapers Ltd.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Newspaper

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 1114
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Country Houses of Dorset
    Author: Oswald, Arthur
    Year Published: 1935
    Reference: pgs. 50-53
    Publisher: London: Country Life Ltd.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II*

  • "To Serve Them All My Days" (1980 - TV mini series, as Bamfylde School). "The Browning Version" (1994).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Sir John Tregonwell, 16th century. Joseph Damer, 1st Baron Milton and 1st Earl of Dorchester, 18th century; Henry Dawson Damer, 19th century; John Dawson, 2nd Earl of Portarlington, 19th century. Carl Joachim Hambro, 19th century; Air Commodore Sir Charles Jocelyn Hambro, until 1932.

    Current Ownership Type: School

    Primary Current Ownership Use: School

    Ownership Details: Today Milton Abbey School

  • House Open to Public: No

    Phone: 01258-880-484

    Fax: 01258-881-194

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.miltonabbey.co.uk/

    Historic Houses Member: No


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