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Milton Abbey

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Milton Abbey

Milton Abbey in Dorset was a Benedictine foundation, but only part of the church now survives and is used as a parish church. The medieval church burned down in 1309, and rebuilding had barely begun at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1771, Joseph Damer, Earl of Dorchester demolished the remaining abbey buildings to make way for a new house, and moved the surrounding village (creating Milton Abbas in the process) in 1780. The house was designed by William Chambers and the gardens by Capability Brown.

The abbey was originally founded by King Athelstan of England, and there are two medieval paintings of the king and his mother in the chancel. Another of the church's benefactors was John Tregonwell, whose family came into the possession of the buildings following the Dissolution. Tregonwell fell from the roof of the church in a childhood accident, but his life was saved when his wide pantaloons filled with air and broke his fall. In thanks, he bequeathed his library to the church.

The abbey church is built in a mixture of Ham stone, Chilmark stone and flint. Its style is mostly Decorated Gothic dating from the mid 14th century. The Earl and Countess of Dorchester were also generous to the church, and their joint tomb, designed by Robert Adam with sculpture by Agostino Carlini, is to be found in the north transept. Perhaps the most striking feature of the church's interior, however, is its south window, designed as a Tree of Jesse by August Pugin.

The house is now the campus of an independent school.

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