The House from "Morris's Views of Seats," circa 1875.
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 Milton Abbey Estate to Lord Hambro in 1852. In 1932 the Hambros sold the Milton Abbey Estate (Sir Charles Hambro purchased Dixton Manor in 1945 as the family's new seat). The Estate was divided up, with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners buying the Abbey in 1933, which they used for a time as a healing center. In 1953 the grounds were bought by a trust to establish a school, Milton Abbey School, which continues here today.
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. The Norman St. Catherine's Chapel is on a hill near the Church, with a grass staircase leading up to it. The Chapel is of flint and contains a chancel and nave.
Architect: James WyattDate: 1775-76
Architect: John Vardy Sr.Designed: Miscellaneous work for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.
Architect: Lancelot BrownDesigned: Grounds for Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, later 1st Earl of Dorchester.
Architect: George Gilbert ScottDate: 1865
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
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Times, The (London newspaper)
Year Published: NA
Reference: Jun 9, 2006, Bricks and Mortar Section, pg. 28
Publisher: London: Times Newspapers Ltd.
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
Book Type: Softback
Title: Country Houses of Dorset
Author: Oswald, Arthur
Year Published: 1935
Reference: pgs. 50-53
Publisher: London: Country Life Ltd.
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
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; Hambro family here until 1932.
Current Ownership Type: School
Primary Current Ownership Use: School
Ownership Details: Today Milton Abbey School