The History of Milton Abbas

Posted on February 12, 2017 by Richard Watkin

The picture book English cob and thatch village on the Milton Abbey estate, was originally called Middleton and until 1773 was located to the south east of the 10th century Milton Abbey. Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, the first Earl of Dorchester and owner of Milton Abbey, decided that the adjacent market town, Middleton, was disturbing his vision of rural peace. He commissioned architect Sir William Chambers and landscape gardener Capability Brown (both of whom had already worked on the Abbey building and grounds) to design a new village, Milton Abbas, in a wooded valley (Luccombe Bottom) to the south of the Abbey. Most of the existing villagers were relocated here, and the previous village was demolished and the site landscaped. The original site now lies beneath a lake.

The "new" village was built between 1773 and 1780 along the sides of a single sloping street. The thatched cottages are evenly spaced in an artificial way, which makes it almost professionally picturesque. The 36 almost identical cottages were intended to house two families each. They were built from cob and previously were painted yellow, with each house fronted by a lawn; originally a horse chestnut tree was planted between each dwelling.

When Richard was living in Shaftesbury he often visited the picture perfect village and finally got round to painting it after booking a space at the legendary Milton Abbas street fair. The Series 1 Land Rover fits into the scene perfectly and he chose to paint it green as the original colours for the Land Rover were dictated by supplies of aircraft cockpit paint, therefore early vehicles only came in various shades of light green.

© Copyright Eugene Birchall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Milton Abbas drawingMilton AbbasMilton Abbas


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We have taken into consideration that you may not want to go to the expense of having your prints professionally framed (although they do look great when they are!) so have kept to standard sizes -

A4 Prints - 21cm x 29.7cm will fit 'off the shelf' A4 frames

A3 Prints - 29.7cm x 42cm will fit 'off the shelf' A3 frames, but check frame measurement first

50cm x 70cm Prints - 52cm x 72cm which includes a 2cm white border which can be altered if necessary to fit an 'off the shelf' frame