An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.
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34 MILTON ABBAS (8001)
Milton Abbas, a large parish of over 4,000 acres, lies entirely on Chalk and is drained by the southwardflowing Milborne Brook. Until 1933 the parish extended S.E. to include part of the village of Winterborne Whitechurch, and until 1882 it also included detached areas at Lyscombe and Holworth, now united with Cheselbourne and Owermoigne. There appear to have been three original settlements: Milton, Hewish and Bagber, all situated on the banks of the Milborne Brook. At Milton extensive remains of mediaeval open fields are found, but of the other two settlements no open fields are known. All three settlements are now largely deserted.
The founding of the abbey in the 10th century gave Milton a special character which it retained until the 18th century; it became a small town with a market and a fair of some local importance. The dissolution of the monastery in 1539 probably made little difference to the town. In 1540 the estate was sold to Sir John Tregonwell, who made the abbey church into the parish church and occupied the abbot's lodging as his own private house. The estate remained with Tregonwell's heirs until 1752 when it was bought by Joseph Darmer, later Baron Milton and Earl of Dorchester. 'This unmannerly imperious lord', as Sir William Chambers calls him, retained the church and the abbot's great hall, but he pulled down the rest of the monastery and commissioned Chambers to build a new mansion in its place. About 1780 Darmer also demolished the town, to make room for a park designed by Lancelot Brown, transferring the inhabitants to a new model village about ½ m. away. A fairly accurate plan of the old town (Plate 176) is included in the estate map that was drawn by William Woodward in 1769–1771; this map is kept in the Abbey House, which is now a school.
(1) The Abbey Church of St. Mary, St. Samson and St. Branwalader rises among the lawns of Lord Milton's park, in a deep valley surrounded by wooded hills (Plates 161, 162). It is built mainly of Chilmark and Ham Hill stone, with some masonry of banded flint and ashlar; the roofs are lead-covered. (For plan, see folding sheet in pocket at end of volume.)
The story of the foundation, contained in the lost cartulary of Milton Abbey, records that King Athelstan (925–940) had a vision on the site of St. Catherine's Chapel (3), revealing his victory over King Olaf and his allies, and that in the 10th year of his reign he founded the abbey for the soul of his brother Edwin, in whose death he had been implicated. (fn. 1) The record dates presumably from after 1309, the year when all the abbey muniments were destroyed by fire. Edwin's death at sea is recorded under the year 933 in one version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. (fn. 2) A northern annal used by Simeon of Durham accuses the king of ordering his brother's death, (fn. 3) but the Flemish chronicle of the Abbey of St. Bertin, written only a generation later, disposes of the sinister implications of the northern version, recording the gratitude of the monks of St. Bertin for Athelstan's gifts to the church where Edwin had been buried when his body was brought to land. (fn. 4) The date of foundation given in the story, 935, is probably no more than a guess based on the year of Edwin's death; the allusion to the victory over Olaf Guthfrithson points clearly to the battle of Brunanburgh, 937, and suggests a date nearer the end of Athelstan's reign. The foundation charter in Saxon, copied in the late cartulary, bears the date 843 (sic), which Birch tentatively corrects to 15th April 939. (fn. 5)
In 964 'King Eadgar drove the priests . . . from Milton and replaced them with monks', appointing Cyneweard, later Bishop of Wells, as abbot. (fn. 6) It is recorded that Aelfhun of Milton was present at the gathering of Benedictine abbots in 993, when a charter of privileges was granted to Abingdon; (fn. 7) four other abbots with Saxon names are recorded in the Bede Roll of Matilda, Abbess of Caen (d. 1113). (fn. 8)
Milton was a wealthy foundation with possessions assessed at over £90 in Domesday Book. (fn. 9) The church was well supplied with relics, including the arm and other bones of St. Sampson of Dol, (fn. 10) on whose feast day the vision of Athelstan occurred.
Disaster befell the monastery on September 2nd, 1309. During the night, while the monks were at matins, the wooden steeple was struck by lightning, the fire spread to the roof and the whole church was consumed, with the books, vessels, relics, the common seal of the monastery and all its records. A detailed account of this disaster was drawn up by the Bishop of Salisbury who visited the abbey and granted an indulgence of 40 days to all who should contribute to the rebuilding. (fn. 11) The bishop also approached the Chancellor to obtain from the crown a confirmation of the abbey's possessions, the muniments being destroyed; (fn. 12) the confirmation was granted after an investigation and report by brother John de Lenham. (fn. 13)
The work of rebuilding was probably initiated by Abbot Walter de Sydeling (1292–1315), to whom a floor-slab at the centre of the presbytery is attributable. (fn. 14) To the first period of the rebuilding belong the eastern chapels (now destroyed), the aisled presbytery and the crossing; the S. transept is of a date somewhat later in the 14th century. In the course of the 15th century the central tower was carried up, and at the close of the century much work was undertaken by Abbot William Middleton (1481–1525), who rebuilt the N. transept with its vault and also vaulted the S. transept and crossing. The vault of the crossing is more elaborate than the others and may be of the 16th century.
At the Dissolution, in 1539, the abbey was surrendered by the abbot and twelve monks and in the following year the entire monastery was purchased for £1,000 by Sir John Tregonwell, one of the commissioners. It is probable that Tregonwell made the presbytery and transept available for parochial purposes; there is no evidence to support Hutchins's tradition (fn. 15) that a parish church lay to the S.E. of the abbey church. When Joseph Damer transferred the village to its present site in 1780 he provided a new church and vicarage, and in return for these the Bishop of Bristol and the vicar and churchwardens of Milton made the abbey church and its contents over to him absolutely. The fabric of the presbytery, crossing and transepts was restored, c. 1790 by James Wyatt. (fn. 16) In 1852 the property, including the abbey church, was bought from Damer's heirs by Baron Hambro and in 1865 the church was restored by Gilbert Scott, bringing it to its present state. In 1933 the church was bought by the Ecclesiastical Commission and handed over to the Diocese of Salisbury.
Nothing of the pre-conquest building is found in situ although one isolated carved stone of pre-conquest date is preserved. Extensive building appears to have been undertaken in the 12th century, since, in addition to many ornamental fragments of that date that are preserved, loose or reset, in the church, large areas of the 14th-century walls are faced with reused ashlar blocks with the characteristic 12th-century diagonal tooling. A few of these stones retain marks of burning, but the marks do not extend to adjacent stones, as would have happened if the burning had occurred with the stones in situ. The reused ashlar extends in the Presbytery over the western face of the E. wall, over most of the blind N. and S. bays and over the spandrels above the N. and S. arches. The joints of the vaulting shafts do not coincide with the ashlar coursing, giving the shafts the appearance of being inserted, but the anomaly is equally consistent with the use of old ashlar to face areas of wall between new-cut shafts. In face, no remains of the church which existed before the fire of 1309 appear to survive in situ above ground except, possibly, the lower courses in the third bay of the S. arcade and in the two western bays of the outer S. wall.
The church begun after the fire was planned on a splendid scale (see plan at end of volume). First to be built was the aisled Presbytery of seven bays and the eastern Ambulatory with three chapels, the middle chapel projecting. This was quickly followed by the central Crossing, apart from the vaults and the upper part of the tower. The South Transept, projecting two bays beyond the line of the S. aisle wall, was added later. An aisled Nave completing the cruciform plan was projected, as the springing of the arcade arches and the E. responds of the aisle windows demonstrate, but trial excavations made by this Commission in 1955–7 indicate that it never proceeded further. The North Transept, extending one bay beyond the line of the N. aisle wall, and the central Tower, were completed at the end of the 15th century. No trace has been found of the cloister, but the large N. window of the N. transept and the low sill of the unfinished E. window of the projected N. nave aisle show that the E. claustral range and the cloister alley of the later Middle Ages did not follow the normal arrangement. Neither the plan nor the extent of the 13th-century and earlier churches is known, but the 1955–7 excavations which revealed the plan of the ambulatory and E. chapels also disclosed evidence of heavy burning 36 ft. E. of the present E. wall. If this burning is from the fire of 1309 it shows that the 13th-century church reached at least thus far E. Trenching W. of the central crossing failed to reveal any trace of the earlier church.
The Monastic Buildings have almost entirely gone. The only standing building is the late 15th-century great hall of Abbot William Middleton (see Monument (4), p. 191); its position implies that the cloister and associated buildings at that date stood on the N. side of the church, probably W. of the transept. Indeed, the asymmetry of the present transepts suggests that enlargement to the N. may have been precluded by some part of the claustral buildings. The respond of a panelled archway, now embedded in the western buttress on the N. end of the transept, may indicate the alignment of the E. wall of the E. range of the cloister. Eastwards from the archway the remains of a vaulted passage extend for 30 ft. along the foot of the N. wall of the transept. Stonework and windows now reset in the N. aisle of Hilton church (see p. 111) were probably taken from this passage.
Milton Abbey Church is the largest mediaeval building in Central Dorset. Although the E. chapels have perished and the nave remains unbuilt, the surviving parts constitute an important example of 14th and 15th-century architecture. It would be difficult to find a satisfactory parallel for the alternation of open and closed bays in the presbytery. 'Capability' Brown's landscaping of Lord Milton's park has provided the church with a setting of outstanding beauty.
Architectural Description—The 14th-century East Chapels (now demolished) are represented by the foundations of the E. and S. walls. The excavations of 1955–7 brought to light fragmentary foundations extending nearly 80 ft. E. of the present E. wall. Assuming that the E. walk of the ambulatory had the same width as the existing aisles, the excavations show that three chapels lay to the E. of it; a large central chapel and two small lateral chapels. On the S. side of the central chapel are the foundations of a square-set buttress, so placed as to be incompatible with the presumed divisions of the chapel, and therefore perhaps connected with the church that was burned down in 1309. Some 13 ft W. of this buttress the breadth of the wall foundations changes from 6½ ft. to 5½ ft. and the narrower foundations may also represent the antecedent building. During the excavations, evidence of severe burning came to light near the centre-line of the plan and extending eastwards from a point 36 ft. outside the present E. wall, thus lying in the area of the 14th-century E. chapel.
The 14th-century Ambulatory has the same breadth from N. to S. as the combined presbytery and aisles. It is represented by an ashlar-faced W. wall and by part of the N. wall, in which is preserved one jamb of a window that appears to have been uniform with those of the N. aisle (see below). The ambulatory vaulting is represented by its W. shafts, with moulded capitals and bases, supporting wave-moulded wall ribs and the springers of wave-moulded cross and diagonal ribs (Plate 162).
The Presbytery (98 ft. by 26½ ft.) incorporates a considerable amount of reused 12th-century masonry, no doubt taken from the church that was burned down in 1309. Many of the stones have scratched masons' marks, selected examples of which are as follows:
The E. wall of the presbytery is gabled, with a blind parapet carried horizontally across the base of the gable. The E. window, in the part of the wall that rises above the ambulatory roof, is two-centred and has seven pointed lights, each light with a large elongated trefoil in the head and further cusping below the trefoil; externally the surround has two chamfered orders and a hood-mould; the rear arch is of three recessed orders, the outer order shafted. Below the window the E. wall is faced internally with reused 12th-century ashlar; there are no openings. The N. and S. walls are of seven bays, the first, third and fifth bays being blind and slightly narrower than the others (Plates 163, 168). The open bays have two-centred arches of three wavemoulded orders springing from responds with attached shafts with moulded caps and bases; the arches have hood-moulds facing the presbytery. The piers between the two western bays are double responds. The clearstoreys have windows in each bay except the easternmost; the windows in the wider bays each have three gradated cinquefoil-headed lights with two-centred surrounds similar to that of the E. window; those of the narrower bays have two cinquefoil-headed lights under large central quatrefoils, with surrounds as before. The shafts which carry the outer order of the rear arches have moulded caps and bases and polygonal plinths. The steeply splayed clearstorey window-sills cut through string-courses from which, in the sections between windows, the mouldings have been removed; this is probably no more than a change of design carried out in the course of building. The profile of the former string-course is visible at the point where it dies into the S.E. corner vaulting-shaft; in some respects it has a 13th-century character but it is not unreasonable to assign it to the early 14th-century. The bays of the presbytery are defined by vaulting shafts with moulded caps and bases, and octagonal plinths; the N.E. and S.E. corner shafts are stouter than those to the W. but similar in other respects. The second shaft on the S. side terminates at the level of the adjacent arch springing, perhaps to make room for the sedilia; the three western shafts on both sides terminate 8½ ft. above floor level to accommodate the choir stalls; the shortened shafts rest on moulded corbels, polygonal on plan. The horizontal jointing of the masonry of the vaulting shafts seldom corresponds with the coursing of the adjacent ashlar; this follows from the fact that the shafts are of the 14th century while the ashlar is reused 12th-century material. The vault of the presbytery is quadripartite, with wave-moulded cross, diagonal and wall ribs, and with bosses at the intersections carved with foliage, grotesque masks and one depicting an archbishop with a cross-staff. Externally the vault is stayed on each side by four flying buttresses, corresponding with the first, third, fifth and seventh aisle buttresses, counting from the E.; the flying buttresses spring from pinnacles on the aisle walls and have pierced spandrels between the archivolts and the straight upper coping. The pinnacles terminate in embattled cappings and crocketed finials.
The North Presbytery Aisle (13¼ ft. wide) is separated from the ambulatory by a blocking wall that is probably of the 17th century; monuments (2) and (3), adjacent, show that it was built before 1703 and probably after 1565. The N. wall, of knapped flint and random rubble with neatly closed original put-log holes, symmetrically arranged, has a moulded plinth and a parapet pierced with quatrefoils. There are six weathered buttresses, each of one stage, surmounted by a square pinnacle with a gabled capping and a crocketed finial; these pinnacles are in addition to the pinnacles of the flying buttresses described above. The interval between the third and fourth buttress is two bays wide and these buttresses formerly extended N. to form the E. and W. walls of a Sacristy; in the fourth buttress is seen the moulded S. jamb of a former window. The sacristy was vaulted and the wave-moulded wall ribs are seen on the aisle wall and on the fourth buttress. The first, fourth and seventh bays of the aisle have each an outward-opening doorway with a moulded two-centred head. The doorway of the first bay has continuous jambs and a segmental rear-arch; that of the fourth bay, opening into the sacristy, is similar. The doorway of the seventh bay is more elaborate than the others; its head is of two moulded orders with a label and each jamb has two attached shafts; the rear-arch, on the N., is segmental. This doorway probably led to the abbot's lodging and also, in the 15th century, to a vaulted passage which probably communicated with the cloister. Above the eastern and western doorways are two-centred windows of three cinquefoil-headed lights as described in the presbytery. Similar windows, but with the sills at a lower level, occur in the other bays of the N. wall, except those which formerly were masked by the sacristy; the window in the second bay from the E. has label stops representing a monkey and a man carrying a staff. The archway from the N. aisle to the transept is of three moulded orders with a hood-mould on the W. side; each respond has attached shafts with moulded caps and bases, those on the S. being restored. The aisle has quadripartite vaulting with wavemoulded ribs springing from vaulting shafts with caps and bases as before described; the intersections of the ribs have carved bosses, some with foliate enrichment, others depicting beasts, a grotesque face sprouting foliage, St. Michael with spear and dragon, the head and shoulders of a bishop and of a king (Plate 165).
The South Presbytery Aisle (13¾ ft. wide) is generally similar to the N. aisle except that the buttress pinnacles have canopied niches with cinquefoil heads, ribbed soffits and moulded pedestals. Between the fourth and fifth bays the buttress and flying-buttress pinnacles are connected by a small cusped arch. The blocking wall at the E. end of the aisle is of banded flint and squared ashlar; it was probably refaced in the 18th century. The lowest courses of the N. pier in the third bay from the E. appear to comprise 12th-century masonry in situ. As in the N. aisle, the three-light S. window of the easternmost bay surmounts an outward-opening doorway with a two-centred head. The label-stops of the S. windows represent heads, heads-and-shoulders, grotesques, a monkey and other animals. The archway at the W. end is uniform with that of the N. aisle. The 14th-century vaulting is similar to that of the N. aisle and has bosses depicting vine foliage, Samson and the Lion, a fighting lion and beast, a bird with a scroll, and an angel with a scroll (Plate 165). On Woodward's estate map (Plate 176) the church is drawn imprecisely but an annex is clearly shown on the S. side of the S. aisle; it corresponds approximately with the former sacristy on the N. An area of restored masonry below the window-sill of the fourth bay possibly takes the place of the doorway to this annex; as the window itself is original the annex must have had a low roof. In the two western bays the buttresses are not bonded with the ashlar wall-face, suggesting the possibility that the lower parts of the wall may date from before the fire of 1309.
The Crossing (26½ ft. square) has on each of its four sides a 14th-century two-centred arch of three wave-moulded orders springing from five-shafted responds with moulded caps and bases (Plate 168). The W. archway is blocked by a wall of random flint and rubble, with put-log holes symmetrically arranged as in the N. and S. aisle walls; it is probably of the 14th century. In the four angles of the crossing, vaulting-shafts with caps and bases similar to those of the responds support a fan-vault of c. 1500; it is similar to contemporary vaulting in Sherborne Abbey and was probably erected by Abbot William; the vaulting compartments are trefoil-headed above and below, and in the higher bays the trefoils are sub-cusped. At the centre of the vault is a round bell-way with an oak trap-door with ribs and a foliate oak boss. Some of the stone bosses are foliate and others have shields-of-arms including the arms of King Athelstan, of Cerne and Milton Abbeys, of Coker, of Latimer, of Morton, and two other coats (unidentified 4, 5).
Above the crossing, the 15th-century Tower is of one stage; at the base, small doorways with chamfered two-centred heads lead to the roofs of the presbytery and transepts; to the W. a similar opening pierces the E. gable of the projected nave. Each side contains two large belfry windows, each of two cinquefoil-headed lights with vertical tracery in a chamfered and hollow-chamfered two-centred head with continuous jambs. Flanking the windows, central and angle buttresses have weathered heads from which spring diagonally-set pinnacles; the pinnacles pass through a moulded string-course and a parapet that is pierced with quatrefoils. At the S.E. corner of the tower is an octagonal vice turret.
The North Transept (26½ ft. by 26 ft.) is largely of c. 1500, but it incorporates the adjacent 14th-century piers of the crossing and of the N. aisle. It is of two bays, one bay less than the S. transept, an anomaly that is probably explained by the former existence of monastic buildings to N. and W. In the N. bay, to E. and W., are two-centred windows, each of three doubletransomed lights with cinquefoil two-centred heads at each level, and vertical tracery above. The two-centred N. window has eight similar but single-transomed lights, with the sill at the level of the lower transoms of the E. and W. windows; the central pair of lights is flanked by large mullions which project externally as far as the wall-face. In the S. bay, to the E. is the 14th-century archway to the N. aisle, already described; above it is a clearstorey window with tracery similar to that of the adjacent N. bay. To the W. is the blocked archway to the projected N. aisle of the nave; the responds are of the 14th century and similar to those of the presbytery archways, but the arch is of the 15th century with double ogee mouldings to the three orders; the blocking wall, of flint and rubble, is probably of the 15th century also. Above is a 15th-century clearstorey window, as before described. The vaulting shafts in the N.E. and N.W. corners of the transept are of c. 1500; the capitals of the middle vaulting shafts on the E. and W. walls are also of that date but the lower part of each shaft is of the 14th century; the vaulting shafts and capitals in the two S. corners of the transept are of the 14th century. The vault of the N. transept was erected under Abbot William and has diagonal, ridge, wall and subsidiary ribs, with bosses at the intersections carved in various ways, including foliage, the initials W.M. with crozier and tun, a mitred head, a Tudor rose, and also the cipher T.L., probably for Thomas Langton, Bishop of Winchester (1493–1501), whose arms appear in the abbot's hall (see below, p. 193).
Externally, at roof level, the N. transept has a parapet with quatrefoil piercing which also continues horizontally across the base of the N. gable. On either side of the head of the N. window is a crocketed pinnacle with panelled sides, set diagonally and carried down nearly to the level of the window-head springing. Below each pinnacle are seen the remains of the abutment of a former flying buttress, now gone. Similar pinnacles on the E. and W. walls of the transept suggest that two other flying buttresses also existed, their abutments now wholly masked by later masonry. Thus the transept originally had four flying buttresses, a pair at the N.E. angle and others near the N.W. angle. The eastern flying buttress of the N.E. pair has been replaced by an 18th-century solid buttress of three weathered stages, faced with banded flint and ashlar; in the lowest part is incorporated masonry of c. 1500, the S. side of a Vaulted Passage that formerly skirted the transept. The remains of the vaulting attached to the N. wall of the transept, below the level of the N. window-sill, include the wall-ribs and springers of four bays of fan vaulting, of c. 1500, with cusped ogee-headed panels springing from triple corbels with foliate decoration, and with a foliate boss at the apex of each wall rib. The northern flying buttress of the N.W. corner of the transept has been superseded by a solid buttress of two weathered stages, probably of the 17th century. It is set 2½ ft. to the E. of the true corner of the transept, and incorporated in the lower part of the buttress, on the E. side, is the S. respond and springing of a 15th-century panelled archway which originally carried a superincumbent wall running N.; this was probably the E. wall of the E. range of the cloister. The W. buttress at the N.W. corner was reconstructed and refaced in the late 17th century; on the W. face is a rectangular panel with the inscription 'Thomas Royden, James Hobel, Church Wardens in Anno Dom. 1683'. The arch of the former flying buttress can be seen on the N. side; below, an opening that is now masked by the masonry of 1683 probably gave access to a turret, polygonal on plan, of which the plinth of one face remains in situ between the buttress and the nave wall. The turret presumably contained the night stair to the dorter; three stone blocks embedded in the 17-century masonry at the foot of the buttress may be fragments of steps. The weathered roof of the turret is represented by an oblique scar on the N. jamb of the adjacent transept window, perpetuated in the refacing stonework of 1683.
In the South Transept (43½ ft. by 26 ft.) the walls are of the first half of the 14th century, but the vaulting and the catwalk parapets at the level of the upper window-sills were added by Abbot William, c. 1500. The windows are in two storeys; in the lower storey those of the E. and W. walls are two-centred and of three gradated lights with trefoils above, as in the E. window of the presbytery; the moulded rear-arches rest on shafts and the external hood-moulds have foliate or head stops. In the upper storey the windows are two-centred and of four cinquefoil-headed lights surmounted by curvilinear tracery; they have hood-moulds and shafted rear-arches as before; the windows over the archways to the presbytery and nave aisles are similar, but of two lights. The archway to the projected S. aisle of the nave is uniform with that of the S. presbytery aisle; it is blocked with rubble masonry of uncertain date but probably of the 14th century; in it is a blocked doorway with a chamfered two-centred head with continuous jambs ending at pyramidal stops. The great S. window is of seven trefoil ogee-headed lights, with net tracery above in a two-centred head; the internal reveals are moulded and shafted. The catwalk parapets have diagonal cusped panels enclosing leaf paterae, roses and blank shields; doorways were provided for access to the projected nave and S. aisle catwalks. The vaulting (Plate 164) is similar to that of the N. transept, but of three bays; it springs from 14th-century vaulting shafts and has carved bosses representing foliage, roses, the letter T, crowned heads, Abbot William's devices, shields with arms of Athelstan, Milton Abbey, Coker, and one with the five wounds of Christ. Externally the roof parapets are plain on the E. and S. sides, the latter crossing the base of the S. gable; behind the parapet the S. gable has a small window of two two-centred lights, opening into the attic above the vaulting. On the W. side the parapet is pierced with quatrefoils and the string-course has ball-flower ornament. At the S.E. corner of the transept is an octagonal vice turret with a conical stone roof ornamented with crockets and a finial. The weathered three-stage buttresses are crowned with square-set pinnacles.
The projected Nave is represented by the responds of the N. and S. arcades with stubs of walls above them, which now form buttresses on the W. side of the crossing (Plate 162). The arcading of the nave was intended to be similar to that of the presbytery, but with moulded string-courses and panelled parapets to clear-storey catwalks, as in the S. transept; the extremities of these features are seen on both sides. Higher up, on the N. side, is the E. respond of a clearstorey window. The easternmost shafts for the nave vaulting, the E. wall rib, and the springers of the diagonal ribs are preserved.
Of the North Aisle about 6 ft. length of the N. wall projects westwards from the W. wall of the transept. Of the N. window, the E. springing of a segmental-pointed head and part of the cinquefoil cusping of one light are seen; the profile of the casement mouldings suggests a late 15th-century date; the window jamb is grooved for glazing but glass can never have been fitted as there are no saddle-bar sockets. Of the vaulting, the E. wall rib and the springings of the N., S. and cross ribs are in situ, rising from vaulting shafts in the N.E. and S.E. corners. Above the blocked archway to the N. transept is the inclined weathering for a low-pitched roof. Excavation to the W. of the surviving stub of the N. wall revealed that foundations had been laid for a further 13 ft. only; further W. were discovered the remains of a collapsed arch, of uncertain significance.
The unfinished South Aisle presents evidence that is generally similar to that of the N. aisle except that the projected S. window, with a wave-moulded E. jamb, is probably of the middle of the 14th century; the window head no longer exists.
The oak Roof above the presbytery vault dates from c. 1500. It is of nine bays and has trusses with cambered tie-beams, king-posts with braces to the ridge, diagonal struts, and two purlins in each slope; the tie-beams rest on shaped stone corbels. The transept roofs are also of c. 1500; they are similar to that of the presbytery but with only one purlin in each slope; the tie-beams have curved braces to the side walls. The tower roof, probably of c. 1500, is nearly flat and has four oak beams with raised centres forming three bays and two half-bays. The beams rest on wall-plates to N. and S. and at either end have curved braces to wall corbels; vertical wall-posts notched into the braces are probably modern. Housed into the main beams are central ridge members and one purlin on either side. The floor of the bell chamber comprises six very large roughly squared oak beams resting, to E. and W., on wall-plates which lie on double rounded ashlar corbels. The beams have curved braces at each end, and support exposed joists. All the timber roofs were extensively restored in the 19th century.
Fittings—Bells: In clock, three by James Wells, 1804, others modern. Brasses and Indents. Brasses: In N. aisle, (1) inscription plate (13 ins. by 3 ins.) of Joh'es Artur, monk, 15th century; (2) see monument (3). In N. transept, on N. wall, (3) of Henry Dawson Damer, 1841, with arms. Indents: In presbytery, (1) see floor-slab (1); on N. side, (2) for figures of a man and his wife, the latter with veiled head-dress, also two groups of children, inscription plate, and four shields, 15th century. In N. transept, (3) for rectangular inscription plate (16 ins. by 2½ ins.). In S. aisle, near E. end, (4) for plate (10½ ins. by 2½ ins.). Chest: In S. aisle, of oak, with carved rails, stiles and panels, 17th century, restored. Clock: In tower, by Ward of Blandford, 1804. Coffin-lids: In N. transept, (1) lower part of flat tapering Purbeck marble slab with incised figure of abbot with crozier, and marginal inscription in Lombardic letters . . . RCI LISET LE PARDVN CI WS KI PAR ICI PASSETT PVR LEALME PRI . . . , 13th or 14th century; (2) tapering slab with stem of cross, upper part gone, margin with double hollow-chamfer, 13th century; (3) middle part of tapering slab with stem of cross and moulded margin, 13th century. In S. transept, (4) tapering Purbeck marble slab with hollow-chamfered border, and raised central fillet. Communion Table: (Plate 169) of Derbyshire marble, with devices of the Abbey, Athelstan, Abbot William, I.H.S., and arms of Damer, formerly in presbytery at centre of reredos (Hutchins, 2nd ed. IV, 230), now in part reset at E. end of S. aisle; late 18th century.
Glass: In presbytery, reset in E. window; in N. light, roundel with shield-of-arms quarterly, i and iv obliterated, ii and iii Mohun; 2nd light, roundel made up of 15th-century fragments; 3rd light, panel of 16th and 17th-century fragments; 4th light, shield with W.M. and crozier in yellow stain, and arms of King Athelstan; below, in black-letter, 'spes mea in Deo est', also small shield of France and England quarterly; 5th light as 3rd including fragment of angel with trumpet, 17th century; 6th light, shield-of-arms, quarterly i and iv Husey of Lincoln, ii female head, non-heraldic, iii Hussey, impaling (unidentified 6); 7th light, shield-of-arms, quarterly, i Arundel; ii quarterly 1 and 4 Dinham?, 2 and 3 des Arches, iii Chideocke, iv Carminow. In tracery, late 15th to 17th-century fragments, including Abbot William's badge. In S. aisle, in W. window, 23 quarries with grisaille leaf design, probably 14th century. In N. transept, in N. window, late 18th-century shields and crests of Damer and Sackville, with borders of red and white roses. In S. transept, S. window, Tree of Jesse designed by A. W. Pugin, executed by John Hardman, 1847. Graffiti: On walls of catwalk in S. transept, initials and dates, 1774 to 1818, and compass-scratched patterns; on cresting of reredos, 'I.H.1773'.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In presbytery N. of sanctuary, (1) of Baron Hambro, 1877, marble table-tomb with recumbent effigy beneath stone canopy. In N. aisle, on E. wall, (2) of Mary (Tregonwell) Bancks, 1703/4, James Bancks, 1724, and John Bancks, 1724/5, stone monument (Plate 37) with female figure lying on altar tomb, between Corinthian columns which support open segmental entablature with cherubs in tympanum; above, urns, crests and cartouche-of-arms of Bancks with inescutcheon of Tregonwell quartering Fen; between columns and also on front of tomb-chest, marble inscription panels simulating drapery. Adjacent to S., (3) of Sir John Tregonwell, 1565, canopied mural altar-tomb of Purbeck marble (Plate 29); tombchest with moulded plinth and slab, and quatrefoil panels enclosing blank shields; canopy, resting on two spiral columns, with depressed arches, quatrefoil frieze and brattished cresting; soffit of canopy with curvilinear tracery and scars of two missing pendants; on wall below canopy, brass figure in armour and tabard kneeling at prayer-desk with helm and gauntlets in front (Plate 41), tabard with Tregonwell arms, same arms on desk cloth; above, scroll inscribed with Latin prayer in black-letter; adjacent, achievement-of-arms of Tregonwell; flanking, shields-of-arms of Tregonwell impaling quarterly Kelway, Byset, Bingham and Rumsey, and Tregonwell impaling New; below, black-letter plate (20½ ins. by 5 ins.) inscribed 'Here lyeth buried Syr John Tregonwell Knyght doctor of the Cyvill Lawes, and one of the maisters of the Chauncerye who dyed the xiii day of January in the yere of our Lorde 1565 of whose soule God have m'cy'. In S. aisle, on E. wall, (4) of John Tregonwell, 1680, marble tablet with shield-of-arms, in stone surround. In N. transept, freestanding, (5) of Caroline (Sackville) Damer, wife of Lord Milton, 1775, white marble table-tomb (Plate 169) with effigies by A. Carlini dated 1775; table-tomb with Gothic enrichments by Robert Adam (M.I. Webb, Arch. Rev., May 1958, 331), with arms of Damer impaling Sackville; whole N. bay of transept paved, colour-washed and glazed in correspondence with this monument. In N. transept, on E. wall, (6) of Caroline, Countess of Portarlington, 1813, marble tablet with Gothic details, erected 1844. In S. transept, on E. wall, (7) of George Marsh, 1722, inscription tablet; (8) of Mary Marsh, 1761, inscription tablet. Floor-slabs: In presbytery, centrally, at foot of chancel steps, (1) of Abbot Walter [probably de Sydeling, 1315], Purbeck marble, with indents for habited figure under straight-sided cinquefoil-headed canopy, with marginal inscription ABBA VALTERE TE FATA CITO RAPVERE TE RADINGA DEDIT SED MORS MALE NOS TVA LEDIT; to S., (2) of Francis Frampton, 1668, vicar; reset on S. wall, (3) broken Purbeck marble slab with two lines of black-letter inscription, 15th century. In N. aisle, (4) of Ann Clapcott, 1757, and John Woolfrey, 1780; (5) of Samuel and Mary Brown, 1722; (6) of John Clevees, 1711; (7) of John Brown, 1731. In S. aisle, (8) of Samuel Pitt, 1694; (9) of Elizabeth Martin, 1730 ?, and others of same family, 1738, 1744; (10) of James Martin, vicar, 1757, and his daughter Frances Wood, 1761.
Niches: In S. aisle, in N. wall of 3rd bay, three-sided recess with rounded head and rib-vaulted soffit, with red and green colour on sides; standards, corbel and projecting canopy with crocketed capping shaved back to wall-surface; above, carved rebus of Abbot William and date 1514; in N. wall of 5th bay, recess with segmental head and red colour on reveals, projecting surround cut back, mediaeval. Paintings: In choir, on wood panels above two principal stalls at W. end, to N., figure of king holding model of church, abbot with crozier kneeling in front, above, black-letter inscription 'rex adelstanus huius loci f[undator]'; to S., figure of queen with hawk and dead bird, lion at feet; both paintings crude 15th or early 16th-century work, repainted in 19th century. Piscinae: In presbytery, to S., reset stone recess with moulded jambs and cusped triangular head, early 14th century, finial modern (Plate 166); position of recess perhaps altered to make way for reredos in 15th century; within recess, Purbeck marble sill with moulded edge, round basin and drain, mid 13th century. In S. transept, on S. wall, recess with moulded ogee head with label, continuous jambs and six-lobed basin, early 14th century. In reset stone screen adjacent to foregoing, recess with crocketed ogee head and drainless octagonal bowl on stone shaft, early 16th century (Plate 24). Plate: includes processional cross now used as altarcross, with gilded knop, shaped and plated cross with repoussé ornament, medallions of prelate in triple tiara and evangelists, 'padrones' stamped on joints of arms, 17th century, foreign; also two Sheffield-plated candlesticks, late 18th century, and brass alms-dish representing Caleb and Joshua, probably 17th century. (See also Miscellanea (21) below.)
Pulpitum: Under E. arch of crossing, of ashlar, early 14th century, heightened with reused material of c. 1500. Central archway on W. side with moulded two-centred arch and label with foliate stops, one recut, springing from triple shafts with moulded caps and bases, the two outward shafts of Purbeck marble; archway on E. side similar but with restored caps and label-stops; space between archways with quadripartite vault with moulded ribs and restored foliate boss; to N. and S., doorways to stairs with hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred heads. Upper part of W. face of pulpitum corbelled out, stepped up over archway and carried up plain to parapet; masonry includes reused material and incorporates painted Gothic panelling of c. 1500 on inside face; on E. face parapet has embattled capping with remains of colour. E. archway flanked by windows to stairs, with moulded jambs, trefoil ogee heads and labels with modern stops. Reset above, overhanging gallery of c. 1500, with painted rib-vaulted corbelling, cusped fascia and repainted shields-of-arms including those of Abbotsbury, Milton, Cerne and Sherborne Abbeys, Royal Arms, Athelstan and other coats.
Pyx-shrine: In presbytery, reset on N. side, of oak, with some remaining colour, in three stages with spire (Plate 167); lowest stage square on plan, with four panelled angle-posts with crocketed finials and, on three sides, two-centred 'windows' of four trefoil-headed lights with vertical tracery, three pierced quatrefoils above and below, and embattled cresting; fourth side plain, with shaped opening for introduction of Host; fretted sexfoil panel in floor; second and third stages hexagonal and buttressed, with, in each face, transomed three-light 'windows' with tracery, quatrefoils, embattled cresting and finials as before; above, crocketed hexagonal spire, Shrine, formerly in S. transept, repaired and reassembled in 1958; construction of woodwork shows that it was originally suspended by apex of spire; 15th century.
Reredos: Of stone (Plates 166, 168), 6 ft. in front of E. wall of presbytery, 15th century with late 18th-century restoration; lower part for height of about 8 ft. largely original and retaining painted decoration. At each end, doorway with moulded two-centred head, continuous jambs, and label with carved stops; oak plank doors, that on N. with septfoil iron scutcheon for ring handle, Above doorways, trefoil-headed panels alternating with crocketed pinnacles; between doorways, dado of cinquefoil-headed niches with pedestals for statues, four to N. and four to S. original, seventeen at centre indicating length of former altar (14½ ft.), 18th century. At level of door-heads, eleven triple niches, mainly original, each with panelled base and threebay trefoil-headed canopy with miniature rib vaulting, crockets and finials; above niche canopies, restored hollow-chamfered string-course with foliate bosses. At higher level, original moulded plinth and plain frieze with painted black-letter inscription—'Orate pro bono statu et animabus domini Willelmi Middleton hui' alm' monasterii abbatis ac etiam magistri Thomae Wilken hujus parochiae vicarii et decretorum cancellarii qui hoc altare ad dei laudem suis honorifice depinxerunt sumptibus anno incarnationis domini nostri Jhu' Xti. millesimo quadringentesimo nonagesimo secundo'; inscription perhaps restored inaccurately, with 'cancellarii' for 'baccalarii', since vicar 1465–1510 was Thomas Fowey, bachelor of decrees (Emden, Biographical Register of the University of Oxford, II, 714), of whom Wilken probably was alternative surname. Above inscription, range of thirteen niches, restored except for trefoil panelling on pedestals towards N. and, perhaps, in trefoil heads of some recesses; second storey of niches also largely restored except for some canopy soffits. Embattled cresting and fan-vaulted cove at top of reredos largely original; at S. end, projecting pulley-wheel; near middle, projecting iron staple; scratched on surface of cresting 'I.H. 1773'.
Screens: In presbytery, closing N. and S. arcades at back of choir stalls, of stone 9½ ft. high, with weathered coping; 14th century, with inserted 19th-century arcading. In S. transept, reset near S.E. corner, with N. face in two heights, with cinquefoil-headed panels and cornice with leaf bosses (Plate 24); W. bay with small piscina (q.v.); upper part of two eastern bays corbelled out above quatrefoil frieze, with bases of stiles for higher zone, now gone; on S. face, small ribs forming two bays with moulded capping; screen perhaps from chantry of Abbot William, early 16th century. Sedilia: In presbytery, on S. side near E. end, of three bays (Plate 166), with stone standards with panelled sides and gabled and crocketed finials, and with gabled canopies with ninefold cusping, brattishing and crocketed finials; same details repeated on reverse, facing S. aisle, where original red and green colouring remains, and traces of gilding; octagonal corbel projects S. from middle sedile; early 14th century, with restoration, especially of pinnacle-tops and finials. Stalls: In choir, of oak, incorporated with modern work; on N. side, six stalls with cusped misericords; on S. side, elements of eleven stalls including curved back-tops with lobed ends and sockets for canopy-shafts, and five seats with cusped misericords; 14th or 15th century. Sundials: On S. face of S.E. turret of S. transept, mediaeval stone dial with incised black-letter numerals, inverted; below, scratch-dial. Tiles: In S. transept, reset in raised floor-panel, collection of slip-tiles, many in fragments, with various designs, including shields-of-arms, stags, long-necked birds, geometrical patterns; probably 14th century.
Miscellanea: Carved stone fragments reused in structure of church include: In rubble core of S. wall of presbytery, in E. bay, (1) stone with chevron ornament and pellets, 12th century; in 5th bay, (2) section of string-course carefully carved with fir-cones and palmettes, probably 12th century. In N. aisle, in N. wall of 4th bay, (3) moulded stone with pellets, 12th century. In S. aisle, in S. wall of 6th bay, (4) round loop-head, 11th or 12th century. Unattached, displayed in S. transept, (5) part of rounded shaft (1 ft. 10 ins. long) with loose interlace carving (Plate 12), sides and back cut away, probably pre-conquest.
Detached fragments displayed in the church include the following: Of the 12th century; (6) Purbeck marble four-sided volute capital for column 6¼ ins. in diameter, (7) part of large scalloped capital from shaft c. 3½ ft. in diameter, (8) several fragments with chevron ornament and others with conventional foliage, (9) three small attached capitals with scallop decoration, (10) part of spiral-fluted shaft, 6 ins. in diam., with nail-head enrichment. Of the 13th century; (11) two Purbeck marble hold-water shaft-bases, (12) small capital with stiff-leaf decoration, (13) capital from triple-shafted respond, (14) base with four small grouped shafts. Of the 14th century; (15) a small capital. Of the 15th and 16th centuries; (16) upper part of painted stone figure of St. James the Great, (17) painted figure of Gabriel with scroll, (18) lower part of draped figure, (19) numerous fragments of tabernacle-work, brackets, pedestals etc., with colour and gilding and fragmentary black-letter inscriptions. Of the 17th century; broken cartouches-of-arms of Tregonwell and Tregonwell impaling Kelway. Items recovered from graves, displayed in S. transept, include (20) wooden crozier-head and parts of staff, sandals and buckle from beneath floor-slab (1), (21) chalice and paten of base metal from another tomb in presbytery, 13th or 14th century.
(2) The Parish Church of St. James (80650178) stands near the centre of the 18th-century village, 1,000 yds. S.E. of (1). Its walls are of Greensand ashlar with dressings of Ham Hill stone and it is roofed with slates and tiles. If the original building was not actually designed by Sir William Chambers, he was at least interested in its construction (B.M., Add. MS., 41133, ff. 125, 127, 131); it consisted of a Chancel, Nave and West Tower and was consecrated in 1786. In 1888 the chancel was enlarged, the chancel and tower arches were rebuilt, and the S. aisle was added (Faculty Petition in Salisbury Diocesan Archives).
Architectural Description—The E. wall of the Chancel was built in 1886. The N. wall is in two parts; that to the E. is of 1886, that to the W. is original and has an 18th-century two-centred window of two lights with a forked mullion and a plain spandrel; it is blocked up internally. The S. wall and the chancel arch are of 1886. The N. wall of the Nave is original; it has three two-centred windows similar to that of the chancel but of three lights, the forked mullions intersecting to form tracery. The S. arcade and S. aisle are of 1886. The West Tower is original and has three stages separated by moulded string-courses; at the top is an embattled parapet with crocketed corner pinnacles; there are no buttresses. On the E., a two-centred tower arch of two plain orders with continuous ovolo mouldings replaces the narrower original archway. On the N. and S. sides, in the lower stage, are two-light windows uniform with the original window in the chancel. The W. doorway has a two-centred head and continuous jambs, with hollow-chamfered and ogee mouldings; it is surmounted by concentric and square hood-moulds, in the spandrels of which are shields-of-arms of Damer impaling Sackville, with a baron's coronet, and of Milton Abbey. The second stage has, on the N. side, a clock-face in a square panel with a moulded border; the W. side has a square panel containing a quatrefoil and a rosette. The third stage is set slightly back and has, in the E., N. and W. sides, pointed two-light windows as before described.
Fittings—Bell: one, brought from the Abbey Church, inscribed in Lombardic lettering 'Sancta Ihohannes'. Benefactor's Table: In nave, N. of tower arch, of John Ham, 1844, marble slab by Simmonds of Blandford. Bier: with sliding poles, probably 19th century. Clock: In tower, by Arnold of Child Okeford, 1787. Coffin-stools: pair, late 18th century. Font: In tower, of Purbeck marble, with octagonal bowl decorated on each face with two shallow trefoil-headed panels; below, octagonal centre shaft and eight octagonal corner-shafts standing on hollow-chamfered octagonal base; underneath, octagonal plinth of Ham Hill stone with, on four contiguous sides, frieze of quatrefoils between chamfered and hollow-chamfered mouldings; bowl, shafts and base probably of the 13th century but with 18th-century reworking; plinth, late 15th century. Font-cover, of oak with ogee profile and foliate finial, late 18th century.
Monuments: In churchyard, several headstones of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten with hallmarks for 1636 and donor's inscription of John Chappell, 1637; stand-paten with donor's inscription of Mary Savage, 1678; two flagons with hallmarks of 1663 and donor's inscription of 'Maddam Jane Tregonwell . . . 1675'. Pulpit: Octagonal, with panelled sides in two heights between vertical pilasters inlaid with marquetry (Plate 47); panelling moulded and fielded, the fields ornamented with subsequently applied tracery; at top, continuous moulded cornice, mitred and returned around projection of pilasters; late 18th century, with 19th-century alterations. Seating: In nave, pews with moulded top rails, panelled backs, shaped seat brackets, and pew-ends panelled in simple tracery, perhaps late 18th century. Tables of Creed, Decalogue etc.: Reset in S. aisle, six wooden panels with two-centred heads, inscribed in gilt letters on black ground, dated 1830 and signed 'John Bellamy fecit'. Miscellanea: Gates, in N. side of churchyard, of scrolled wrought iron, hung on iron posts carried up to support central lantern, 18th century; at N.E. corner of churchyard, similar gates, less elaborate and without lantern arch.
(3) The Chapel of St. Catherine (80110234), 300 yds. due E. of the Abbey Church and set on a hill overlooking it, has original walls of roughly coursed flint with dressings of Ham Hill and local limestone, and roofs covered with stone-slates in the lower parts and with tiles above (Plate 178). The Nave and Chancel are of the late 12th century; the nave was strengthened with buttresses and some of the windows were enlarged in the late 15th or early 16th century; the E. window of the chancel and the W. wall of the nave were rebuilt in the 18th century, and the chancel walls were heightened at that time. The chapel was converted to secular uses in the 19th century but it was restored as a place of worship in 1901.
The chapel stands on the lowest of a series of artificial terraces (see below, (24)) and inside a rectangular Enclosure, 110 yds. by about 40 yds., orientated N.–S. The enclosure is defined by a low spread bank with an external ditch on the N., E. and S. sides, and by the scarp of the terrace on the W. The S. half of the enclosure is divided into two unequal parts by a low scarp running due S. from the E. end of the chapel. There is no support for the legend that the enclosure is King Athelstan's work (Hutchins IV, 409) and it appears to be no more than a chapel-yard.
The chapel retains a noteworthy late 12th-century chancel arch and it is paved with well preserved 13th-century slip tiles brought from (1). The S. doorway has a late 12th-century inscription granting 120 days indulgence.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 15 ft.) has original ashlar quoins at the N.E. and S.E. angles; in the E. wall is an 18th-century window of three ogee-headed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. and S. walls are traces of blocked windows. The chancel arch (Plate 179) is of the late 12th century and is two-centred and of two orders; the inner order is plain, the outer order has a roll-moulding and a chamfered hood-mould with beast-head stops. In the responds the inner order rests on clusters of attached shafts with chamfered plinths, moulded bases and scalloped capitals with nail-head enrichment below chamfered abaci; the centre shaft on each side is keeled. The roll-moulding of the outer order continues on the responds. The Nave (38 ft. by 19 ft.) has original ashlar quoins at the N.E. and S.E. corners; in the N. part of the E. wall is the weathered drip-moulding of an earlier chancel roof. In the N. wall is a late 15th or early 16th-century square-headed window of two ogee-headed lights with hollow-chamfered mullions and jambs, pierced spandrels and a hollow-chamfered surround. The late 12th-century N. doorway has a plain segmental head springing from ashlar jambs with hollow-chamfered abaci; to the W. of the doorway is a small original window of one round-headed light, chamfered externally and with wide internal splays. The S. wall of the nave has two windows and a doorway, corresponding with and similar to those on the N.; the S. doorway (Plate 10) is richer than that on the N., having above the segmental head a round-headed tympanum and an outer arch with a roll-moulding and a hollow-chamfered label; the arch springs from notched and hollow-chamfered abaci above responds with attached three-quarter columns with keeled shafts, foliate caps and moulded bases. The W. respond bears a late 12th-century inscription (see below). The 15th-century buttresses on both sides of the nave are of two weathered stages with chamfered plinths. The W. wall was refaced with ashlar and knapped flint-work in the 18th century; at the centre is a 19th-century lancet window in a round-headed recess. The roofs are modern.
Fittings—Bracket: In chancel, reset on E. wall, polygonal, with moulded and panelled enrichment, 15th century, probably from (1). Brasses. On inner side of S. door, plate with semicircular head engraved with facsimile of indulgence inscription (q.v.), 1793; on S. door, rectangular plate similarly engraved, probably 18th century. Doors: In N. and S. doorways, oak, 18th century. Inscription: On W. jamb of S. doorway (Plate 49), INDULGENCIA H' Sci. Loci C E[T X]X Dies, incised Lombardic letters, 1½ ins. high, c. 1200. Niche: In nave, beside N. doorway, with four-centred head, perhaps 15th century. Tiles: In chancel and at W. end of nave, of 13th to 15th centuries, red and brown clay with yellow slip decoration; patterns include varieties of interlacework, horsemen with swords and bows, peacocks, dogs, stags, heraldic mullets, lions passant, fleurs-de-lis, chevrons, frets, crowned M, a shield vair, a shield of a lion within a border bezanty, three birds, arms of See of Exeter; tiles transferred from (1) in 19th century.
(4) Milton Abbey House, immediately N. of (1), is of two and of three storeys, with cellars and attics, and has walls of ashlar and of banded flint and stone. The roofs are slated and leaded. The house, designed by Sir William Chambers, was built between 1771 and 1776. (fn. 17) At the end of 1774 Chambers resigned and the work was continued by James Wyatt. Incorporated in the 18th-century house is the Great Hall built by Abbot William Middleton in 1498; apart from the church (1), everything else that remained of the mediaeval abbey buildings has gone.
When Sir John Tregonwell acquired the abbey at the Dissolution he established himself in the abbot's lodgings and made additions thereto. Hutchins (IV, 393) states that before Chambers's demolitions the house was oblong in plan with a low N. range with small windows. A large gate gave access to a small courtyard surrounded by irregular and ancient buildings; under a window were carved the initial 'W' crowned (mitred?) and 'M' with a crozier, with the date 1529; in another place was seen a shield-of-arms of Tregonwell impaling Kelway. The entrance to the great hall was on the S. side of the court; to the E. stood the vaulted abbey kitchens, pulled down in 1737. The abbot's lodgings probably stood to the W. and the southern part of this range, at the W. end of the hall, was partly rebuilt by Jacob Bancks, son of the last Tregonwell heiress at Milton, but he died in 1737 and the work remained unfinished. Until 1730 a ruinous room lay to the W. of the oriel on the S. side of the hall, and from this room steps descended to the 'cloisters' and led thence to the doorway, described above, near the W. end of the N. aisle of the church. This disposition is seen in an engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, dated 1733.
Architectural Description—The house designed by Chambers has a courtyard surrounded by four symmetrical ranges of buildings; the S. range contains Abbot William's 15th-century hall and the other three ranges have external decorations in the 18th-century Gothic style. The North Front of the N. range comprises a three-storied central gate tower, three-storied corner towers, and intervening two-storied ranges. The gateway has a four-centred arch in a square-headed surround and is flanked by square pilasters which support a frieze of quatrefoil panelling. The arch spandrels contain foliate carving and shields-of-arms of Damer impaling Sackville under baron's coronets. Flanking the archway are octagonal three-storied turrets. On the ground floor each turret has a small sashed window with a moulded four-centred head under a square label with in-turned stops; on the first floor are similar windows, and corresponding blind lights in the oblique wall-faces. Between the turrets and over the gateway is a larger sashed window with a four-centred head and no label. On the second floor the turrets have circular windows and the centre bay contains a square-headed window. At the top of the tower is a moulded parapet with quatrefoil piercing. At the level of the ground-floor and first-floor window-sills are moulded string-courses; the level of the first floor is marked by a string-course with a frieze of rosettes and at second-floor level is a cornice with palmettes; these horizontal members continue throughout the N. and W. elevations. The corner towers are square on plan and project forward 12 ft. from the general line of the N. front. On the N. each tower has, on the ground and first floors, a large sashed window with a four-centred head flanked by two smaller windows of similar form; on the second floor, square central windows are flanked by roundels. The parapets and string-courses are similar to those of the gate tower. The angles of the corner towers are emphasised by octagonal corner-shafts, panelled in the upper storey and crowned with spiral-fluted pinnacles and leaf finials. Between the gate tower and the corner towers are two-storied ranges with string-courses as before, and with crenellated parapets. Each range has three bays of uniform sashed windows with four-centred heads in each storey; the central windows are false.
On the West Front of the W. range (Plate 170) the features of the corner towers and intermediate ranges are repeated, but at the centre of the façade is a three-storied pavilion of seven bays, symmetrically divided into three parts by octagonal shafts with pinnacles, as in the corner towers. The sashed windows of the ground and first floors, with four-centred heads, are as in the N. façade; the windows in the third storey are of quatrefoil form. In the two-bay lateral parts of the tripartite central pavilion the pierced parapets are inclined to form low gables. The East Front of the E. range, facing a service court on the E. of the main house, is of banded flint and ashlar. Originally the two courtyards were connected by a carriage-way and until recently the blocked E. end of the former carriage-way, with a moulded four-centred archway, was seen near the middle of the façade; it has now been obliterated. The tall ground-floor windows of the E. front have round heads with plain architraves and keystones; the smaller first and second-floor windows have similar surrounds with square heads; the first-floor window-sills are combined to make a continuous plat-band.
The South Front is mainly of 18th-century banded flint and ashlar but it incorporates a certain amount of banded flint and rubble work, which survives from the 15th-century building. At the foot of the wall is an original moulded plinth and above the windows is a continuous label; the wall is capped by a hollow-chamfered string-course and an 18th-century ashlar parapet with a moulded coping. At the centre of the symmetrical façade is a restored 15th-century doorway with a moulded four-centred head; this opens into the E. bay of the great hall and to the W. of the doorway the S. front comprises the wall of the hall and the adjoining oriel window. To the E. of the doorway, for the sake of symmetry, Chambers reproduced the details of the hall and oriel in reverse, using part of this wall to front a dining-room, now gone, that had been built probably in the 17th century. Above the central doorway the hall is lit by a window of two transomed lights with hollow-chamfered jambs and mullions and four-centred heads in a square-headed casementmoulded surround; adjacent, to the W., are two similar openings each of three transomed lights, with a two-stage buttress between them; these features are of the late 15th century, restored in the 18th century. Further W. is the projecting oriel bay with a S. window of six transomed, ogee-headed lights with hollow-chamfered mullions and pierced spandrels in a casementmoulded square-headed surround. The plinth of the oriel bay is chamfered whereas that of the hall is moulded; at the S.E. corner is a weathered two-stage diagonal buttress. The masonry of the oriel appears to be partly mediaeval, but the window tracery and much of the ashlar work has been restored. The E. wall of the oriel bay was thickened, probably in the 17th century, in order to accommodate the flue of an inserted fireplace on the S. side of the hall. To the W. of the oriel bay, the end of the W. range projects some 12 ft. southwards, forming a large three-storied tower; it is of 18th-century date but more 'mediaeval' in character than the 18th-century W. and N. fronts, presumably in deference to the adjacent church. On the ground floor, to the S., the tower has two sashed windows with four-centred heads, similar to those of the W. façade; on the first floor it has a transomed casement window of two lights below the transom and of four blind lights with blind tracery above the transom; the second floor has a central two-light window and shaped loops on each side; the parapet is crenellated. The E. front of the tower is partly masked by the oriel bay; the first floor has two two-light casement windows with transoms and the second floor has corresponding windows without transoms. The S. end of the E. range comprises a tower approximately uniform with that on the W., but with a false top storey.
The central gateway in the N. façade leads through a covered carriage-way into the Courtyard (Plate 171). The carriage-way has a plaster vault of two bays, with moulded ribbing and leaf enrichments. Within the courtyard, the S. front of the N. range is ashlar-faced. The three middle bays of the range are occupied by the gate tower, which has details on the S. side similar to those of the N. front, already described; the main differences are that the string-courses are simpler, the arch spandrels have no enrichment, the windows are mullioned and transomed instead of being sashed, and the second storey has a moulded roundel at the centre and shaped windows in the octagonal turrets. On each side of the tower is a two-storied bay with one four-centred transomed three-light window in each storey. The E. and W. sides of the courtyard are uniform, each being two-storied and of banded flint and ashlar, with three three-light four-centred windows in each storey. The four corners of the court are occupied by uniform towers, each of three storeys but not higher than the two-stored E. and W. ranges. Each tower has a square-headed four-light window in each storey; between the first and second-floor windows each tower has a rectangular panel with a moulded surround with lion-head corbels; three of the panels contain cartouches-of-arms: N.E., Hambro, S.W., Damer impaling Sackville with a baron's coronet, S.E., the same with an earl's coronet; the fourth panel comprises a small recess. A corner turret projecting from the side of each tower has, on the ground floor, a doorway with a moulded two-centred head, in a mezzanine storey an ornamental quatrefoil and, on the first floor, two transomed two-light windows with two-centred heads. The towers and turrets have pierced parapets and embattled and crocketed pinnacles with reeded, arrow-headed finials.
In the centre of the S. side of the courtyard is the North Porch of the hall (Plate 171). It is of the 15th century, but the upper part includes much 18th-century rebuilding; externally it is two storied, but there is no evidence for an upper floor inside, and no trace of any stair. At each corner is a diagonal buttress of two weathered stages. The porch archway is two-centred and has a label with stops representing men, full-length but somewhat defaced; the spandrels are carved with foliage and shields bearing, on one side a 'W' with crozier, on the other a mill and a tun, the rebus of Abbot William. Above the arch is a frieze of three shields flanked by trefoil-headed and quatrefoil panels; the middle shield has the Tudor royal arms, on the W. are the arms of the Abbey, the shield on the E. is defaced. The window over the archway is of three ogee-headed lights with vertical tracery under a shallow triangular head. Above is an 18th-century parapet of pierced quatrefoils between pedestals on which are carved the arms of Damer. The lights of the porch window have modern glass in which are reset three small 16th-century shields-of-arms (1) Kelway quarterly with Camel and another coat (unidentified 7), impaling Stanter and ? Lillington (fn. 18); (2) Zouch quartering Cantelupe and a defaced coat, probably St. Maur; (3) France and England quarterly. The ceiling of the porch is of oak, with twelve coffers, each coffer with four quatrefoil panels. On either side of the porch the lower part of the N. wall of the hall and of the dining-room are masked by single-storied modern corridors, the windows of the hall and dining-room rising above the corridor roofs. The hall has three N. windows, each of three transomed lights with two-centred heads in a square-headed casement-moulded surround; the W. light of the westernmost window is masked by the 18th-century tower in the S.W. corner of the courtyard. To the E., in the former dining-room, the lay-out of the hall windows is repeated for the sake of symmetry.
Inside, the Great Hall (Plate 172) is of six bays; the N. porch corresponds with the eastern bay and the oriel window to the S. corresponds with the two western bays. The doorway from the N. porch has a stone surround with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs, partly original; the wood-panelled rear arch is modern. Below the sills of the three N. windows is a moulded string-course embellished with foliate bosses in groups of three and four, alternating with carved and painted shields-of-arms; the colours are not necessarily authentic. From E. to W. they are: (1) unidentified (8); (2) quarterly of eight, two with cross-crosslets, one with a fleur-de-lis, others defaced, impaling Stourton; (3) Talboys; (4) Strangways; (5) Abbotsbury Abbey. The E. wall has no features internally, but high up in the gable, above the ceiling of the dining-room, is a blocked window with a casement-moulded two-centred head and a hood-mould with head-stops; when exposed during recent repairs the wallface was seen to be of coursed ashlar. The S. wall has features similar to those on the N. The moulded string-course below the window-sills has carved and painted shields of (1) Bingham; (2) Coker; (3) Martyn; (4) de la Lynde. In the fourth bay from the E. the string-course is interrupted by a 17th-century fireplace surround of carved freestone, with pendant drapery on the jambs, a scroll frieze and terminal consoles supporting an enriched cornice with a broken segmental pediment. Further W., the archway to the oriel bay has a four-centred head with a panelled soffit, each panel being two-centred and trefoiled at each end and enclosing a rebus of Abbot William; similar panels without rebuses occur on the responds; the panels of the arch are flanked by ogee-moulded ribs which spring from attached shafts with moulded caps and polygonal bases; the ribs and shafts are outlined by continuous hollow-chamfered and ogee mouldings. The W. wall of the hall is traversed by a moulded stone string-course decorated with foliate bosses alternating with carved shields-of-arms, from N. to S. as follows: (1) a wolf salient, perhaps Donne; (2) John Fillioll; (3) Phelips; (4) John Blyth, Bishop of Salisbury, 1494–1500; (5) Cardinal John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1486–1501; (6) Thomas Langton, Bishop of Winchester, 1493–1501; (7) Melplash; (8) Bruning quartering Matravers, (9) a shield embossed with the date 1498 in Arabic numerals.
The windows of the hall contain reset roundels of 16th and 17th-century heraldic glass. On the N. side, from E. to W. they include the arms of (1) Rogers; (2) in a garter, quarterly, i Russell quartering De la Tour, ii Herring, iii Froxmer, iv Wise; (3) Tregonwell impaling, quarterly i and iv Kelway, ii Rumsey, iii Byset; (4) quarterly i Ashley, ii Hamley, iii Sydenham, iv Robert de Plecy quartering Rumsey; (5) France and England with garter and crown; (6) Tregonwell with label impaling Martyn; (7) Knoyle impaling Martyn; (8) similar to (3). On the S. side, (1) Martyn impaling Kelway; (2) unidentified (9) impaling Tregonwell; (3) Tregonwell impaling New of Newbarns; (4) Martyn impaling Wadham; (5) Tregonwell; (6) Tregonwell impaling Kelway; (7) quarterly of nine, Paulet with Poynings, St. John, Longespee, Hussey, Skelton (?), Arundell, Matravers and Cantelupe; (8) Thornhill impaling Tregonwell. Many of the shields differ from those described by Hutchins (IV, 393–4) and they have evidently been reset.
The oak Screens (Plates 80, 173) near the E. end of the hall have been restored, notably in the moulded bases, but much remains that is original. They comprise three isolated lengths of woodwork, one at the centre and one at each side of the hall, the intervening gaps forming the entrances. Each bay is in two heights and is supported to N. and S. by two massive shafted posts, also in two heights. The heights are divided by carved and heavily moulded rails with coved friezes of quatrefoil and trefoil roundels; at the top is a cornice with similar enrichment. Between the posts and the rails the bays are filled with traceried oak panels. In the lower height, all the panels have been restored or reworked except for one panel in the N. bay and two panels in the S. bay; that to the N. has two tiers of trefoil-headed blind tracery, with blank shields at the bottom of the lower tier; those to the S. are similar but without shields. In the upper height, on the W. side of the screen, the middle bay contains four original panels in two tiers divided by a vertical muntin; the muntin has two niches, one above the other, with canopies, side standards and pinnacles; on the subsidiary rails between the panels on either side of the muntin is the black-letter inscription 'Anno Dm. 1498'. Each of the four panels is carved with two cusped blind 'lights' and a blind quatrefoil below; two quatrefoils enclose shields of King Athelstan and the others contain shields with W and M. The panels in the upper height of the side bays are similar to those of the central bay but without shields; between each pair of panels is a traceried muntin. Above the cornice of each bay are groups of crocketed oak pinnacles and, between the pinnacles, brattishing in the form of large cusped and crocketed ogee arches; the pinnacles are probably original; the brattishing is also of early 16th-century date but it probably was set later in the present position, perhaps in the 18th century. Similar arched brattishing spans the openings between the bays. Below the brattishing are angel-busts carrying shields; these display: a sceptre, a crown, 'W', the arms of Baskit (?), the arms of Milton Abbey, a field parted chevronwise and one shield defaced.
The Roof of the hall rises from stone wall-standards of clustered shafts with enriched caps and moulded bases which rest on carved corbels decorated with angels bearing shields (Plate 17); the shields on the N. side are carved and painted with arms as follows: (1) Bindon Abbey, (2) Newburgh, (3) Turberville, (4) Edward the Confessor, (5) and (6) devices of Abbot William, (7) Milton Abbey; the shields on the S. are similarly embellished with the arms of: (1) Latimer, (2) Stafford, (3) unidentified 10, (4) Cerne Abbey, (5) Sherborne Abbey, (6) King Athelstan. The timber roof has seven main collar-beam trusses with arched braces supported on bracketed and moulded hammer-beams. The trusses support three heavily moulded main purlins on each side, the middle purlin being level with the collar-beams. Between the trusses are heavily moulded wall-plates and cornices. The hammer-beam brackets have foliate spandrels, some with shields bearing the arms of the Abbey or Abbot William's devices, others with grotesques; the brackets rest on the stone wallstandards described above. The arched braces are moulded and have traceried spandrels; the spandrels above the collar-beams are also filled with timber tracery. Alternating with the main trusses are intermediate arch-braced trusses, the braces of which spring from unbracketed hammer-beams projecting from the top of the wall-plate cornices; these hammer-beams are all decorated with grotesque figures, including animals and human beings, with various musical instruments (Plate 19). From the principals of the subsidiary trusses, at the level of the top purlins, vertical pendants with moulded and carved finials descend to receive the upper ends of the subsidiary arched braces; from the same pendants smaller arched braces rise to secondary collar-beams, level with the top purlins. Above the wall-plate cornices and level with the hammer-beams of the subsidiary trusses are friezes of quatrefoils. Moulded cinquefoil wind-braces occur below all three purlins in each sub-bay; they are coupled to form two-centred arches within which are fleur-de-lis finials. Below the ridge, curved longitudinal braces join the apexes of the main and of the subsidiary arched braces.
The Oriel bay, to the S. of the hall, has a restored 15th-century timber ceiling divided by moulded ribs into fifteen square bays, fourteen of which are sub-divided into four square coffers, each coffer with a small pendant boss; the centre bay is not sub-divided and has a large pendant decorated with shields with Abbot William's rebuses (Plate 80). The oriel window has six heraldic roundels, probably of the 16th and 17th century but reset, with arms as follows: (1) Strode; (2) Strangways impaling Wadham; (3) Kelway quartering Rumsey and Byset; (4) Kelway impaling Strangways; (5) quarterly of six, Strangways with Stafford (with a bordure), Matravers, Aumarle, Bevile and Cifrewast; (6) Horsey. The windows of the modern corridors to E. and W. of the porch contain roundels of painted glass, probably continental and of the 17th century.
The former Dining Room, immediately E. of the great hall, was probably of 17th-century origin but it was destroyed by fire in 1956 and has now been remodelled as a kitchen. Before the fire, the room was lined with 18th-century panelling simulating Gothic tracery. The fireplace in the E. wall had an 18th-century cast-iron grate in a moulded four-centred stone surround. Reset above was a carved wooden chimney-piece of c. 1600. On each side of the chimney-piece were crude terminal figures with panelled bases, tapering fluted shafts and Ionic capitals surmounted by male busts; flanking these were cheekboards with panelled strapwork decoration in three heights. The busts supported a mantelshelf, above which was an overmantel of three heights. The lowest height was a frieze of carved scroll-work; above were three main panels alternating with four caryatid figures, the central panel being ornamented with strapwork enclosed in a frame of dentils while each lateral panel had a grotesque mask in an arched surround. The upper height had a frieze of scroll-work interrupted by corbels representing grotesque figures and masks; at the top was a modillion cornice.
A. Intermediate truss, side of
B. Principal truss, capital of shaft on king-post.
C. Intermediate truss, base on king-post below ridge bracing.
D. Principal truss, base of shaft on queen-post.
E. Principal truss, base on king-post below ridge bracing.
F. Principal truss, side of hammer-beam.
G. Wall-plate and cornice.
J. Principal truss, side of collar.
K. Intermediate truss, pendant.
L. Principal truss, queen-post.
M. Principal truss, king-post.
N. Arched brace below ridge between trusses.
O. Intermediate truss, upper arched braces.
P. Principal truss, side of wall bracket.
Q. Intermediate truss, lower arched braces.
R. Upper purlin.
S. Middle purlin.
T. Lower purlin.
V. Principal truss, arched brace.
The West Range has, on the ground floor, a suite of apartments designed by William Chambers and James Wyatt, original drawings for which are preserved by the Royal Institute of British Architects. All the rooms have decorated door-cases of various classical designs, mostly with carved friezes, enriched cornices and architraves, and six-panelled doors with fielded panels and highly enriched beading and mouldings. The corner room at the S. end of the range has a coffered plaster ceiling with circular panels of equal size, each containing a central boss alternately of acanthus and laurel leaves; these details are evidently copied from plate xxxvii of Robert Wood's Ruins of Palmyra, published in 1753. The cornice has a deep frieze of honeysuckle palmettes, probably from the same source. The windows have arched plaster pelmets with palmette enrichment surmounted by griffins and scroll-work. The fireplace surround is of white marble with a fluted architrave, Corinthian side columns, a frieze of roundels containing leaf paterae, and an enriched cornice. The adjacent room on the N. has walls divided into panels with fixed oil paintings portraying, among others, George I, George III, the second Duke of Grafton and the Marquis Camden. Below the paintings are paterae and swags. The cornice has a frieze of palmettes alternating with urns. The ceiling has a central panel surrounded by a margin of diagonal coffering, with an acanthus boss in each coffer. The white marble fireplace surround is flanked by free-standing Doric columns supporting an entablature with triglyphs and roundel metopes and, on the central panel, a ram's head with fruit swags. The windows have four-centred heads, enriched panelled reveals and moulded pelmets; between the windows are mirrors. Adjacent, on the N., is an anteroom with a coved plaster ceiling with acanthus enrichment.
At the centre of the W. range is the Drawing Room; it has a plaster ceiling (Plate 174) with a central oval of radiating plumes surrounded by a wide zone of fret-work; outside this is a rectangular border of octagons, each octagon containing a boss of leaves, alternately serrated and smooth. This design was inspired by plate xix of Wood's Palmyra. The cornice has a frieze of acanthus scroll-work. The marble fireplace surround (Plate 76) has an architrave with crossed corners and, at the centre, a mask wreathed with laurel; veils on either side form two swags which drape over the top member of the architrave and then, apparently passing through holes at the corners, hang down the side members and terminate in large tassels. The room is surrounded with shelving, perhaps for china, with carton-pierre enrichments on the skirtings, stiles and rails. The room N. of the drawing room has doors, door-cases and the entire dado of unpainted pine, with enriched architraves, cornices and other mouldings. The walls are covered with figured damask and above is an enriched Corinthian entablature with a plain frieze. The ceiling has a rectangular central panel enclosing a reeded oval, with marginal panels outlined in guilloche ornament enclosing octagons. The chimney-piece, of white and yellow marble, has Ionic columns supporting an entablature with a pulvinated frieze and a dentil cornice. The next room on the N. has a chimneypiece of variegated marble with tapering pilasters, and an entablature with an inlaid Greek-key frieze flanking a centre panel on which is a vase in relief. The ceiling has a large circle of meander ornament enclosing eight lobes, in each of which is a patera; these surround a fluted central feature. The cornice has a frieze of urns and honeysuckle palmettes.
The Library (Plate 77) occupies the N.W. corner tower. The doors, in the S. wall, are disguised as book-cases with real shelving and books; the fireplace is on the E. The walls are lined with bookshelves set between coupled pilasters with Ionic capitals, all in unpainted pine. The chimney-piece is of white marble, with flanking consoles of shallow profile supporting a frieze of paterae between terminal urns under a simple cornice. The coupled pilasters on each side of the fireplace support a pedimented wooden entablature with a portrait medallion flanked by acanthus scroll-work in the tympanum. The ceiling has a star-shaped central panel surrounded by a circle of eight paterae and an octagonal framework of guilloche ornament.
The ground-floor rooms of the N. range have marble fireplace surrounds and enriched door-cases similar to those of the W. range, but slightly less elaborate. The ceilings have enriched cornices but are otherwise plain.
The Stair Hall, N.W. of the great hall, has doorways with panelled reveals, moulded architraves, pulvinated oak-leaf friezes and cornices; the doors are all six-panelled. The stairs (Plate 85) are in four flights and have cantilevered stone steps with moulded nosing. On alternate steps the iron balusters are of foliate scroll-work, those between are plain bars; the swept and moulded handrail is of mahogany. At first-floor level the walls of the staircase have a frieze of fluted roundels and acanthus foliage. The ceiling has a cornice with large dentils.
On the first floor of the W. range, the Ballroom and Anteroom correspond with the central pavilion of the W. front. To the S. of these, and entered from the anteroom, is a suite of drawing-room, dressing-room and bedroom that seem likely to have been designed either for the personal use of Lord Milton or perhaps for George III when he visited the house in 1804. The S. room of the suite, in the S.W. corner tower, is the bedroom. Above a fluted dado rail the walls are delicately panelled, with acanthus enrichment. On the E. side a shallow bed-recess is flanked by slender pilasters which support a segmental archivolt. The marble chimney-piece on the S. has fluted pilasters and a frieze with urns in low relief. On each side of the fireplace stand Corinthian pilasters, the full height of the room; they have reeded base mouldings, and capitals with a single order of leaves; the unfluted pilaster shafts are decorated with Pompeian arabesques, probably applied as paper strips (see A. K. Longfield, Journ. R. Soc. Antiq. Ireland LXXXVII (1957), 145–6). The cornice has a palmette frieze. The ceiling is enriched with delicately modelled swags from which hang medallions of musical instruments; in the centre is a fluted roundel. The dressing-room has a fireplace-surround with fluted pilasters and a central frieze-panel carved in low relief to represent Orpheus and two amorini; the lateral panels have figures with flowers and a cornucopia. The ceiling cornice has a frieze of ivy wreaths surrounding urns and paterae; the ceiling has an oval central panel of radiating plumes and palmettes surrounded by a reeded moulding entwined with vine wreaths. The drawing-room, adjacent on the N., has a white marble chimney-piece with a fluted frieze and a cornice on scroll consoles from which hang flower-sprays. The ceiling is decorated with modelled plasterwork in concentric rings of ornament; the main ring is of large radial flutes, the outer ring is of interlacing swags enclosing urns.
The Ballroom Antechamber has walls hung with damask; above is a frieze of winged sphinxes, paired and alternating with palmettes. The ceiling is a segmental cross-vault and the walls terminate in segmental lunettes with plaster enrichments in the form of acanthus leaves, drapery festoons and scroll-work. The vault has a square centre panel surrounded with drapery festoons. The three door-cases in this room have enriched architraves, and friezes with paired sphinxes and acanthus scrolls (Plate 175). The Ballroom (49⅓ ft. by 24 ft.), occupying the three centre bays of the W. façade and the next two bays to the N., has at each end a doorway with an enriched architrave flanked by console brackets which support a dentil cornice; below the cornice is a frieze of paired sphinxes and honeysuckle palmettes (Plate 175). The doors are six-panelled with heavily enriched, beaded and fielded panels. The room has a dado enriched with wave-scroll pattern, above which the walls were formerly hung with figured damask, now removed; at the top is a frieze of paired griffins flanking vases under a dentil cornice. The ceiling (Plate 73) is a segmental barrel-vault and the lunettes of the end-walls have urns on tripods flanked by winged lions, with foliate scrolls in the spandrels. The vault, of three bays, is richly but delicately embellished with reliefs. The fireplace surround, of white marble, has a fluted architrave flanked by pilasters ornamented with sphinx and vase arabesques; these support a frieze of acanthus scroll-work and an enriched cornice. The large wrought-iron grate, probably original, has a bowed front with bars with turned enrichment, a frieze of oval paterae below, and urn finials above. Other first-floor chambers to the N. of the ballroom have enriched ceilings, fireplace-surrounds, and doorcases similar to those already described.
On the E. wall near the N.E. corner of the house is a bell inscribed 'Laus Deo I. Thornhil. MDCCXXXI' with the initials W.C., probably for William Cockey of Frome. The Cellars, below the S.E. quarter of the house, are of the 18th century and have brick walls and groined cross-vaults. The doorways have stone dressings.
(5) Higher Lodge (80580298), gateway, a little more than frac12;m. N.E. of (4), has walls of Portland stone ashlar and lead-covered roofs. It is of the second half of the 18th century and comprises two single-storied lodge cottages (Plate 67) of classical design, flanking ornamental wrought-iron gates. Minor alterations were made in the 19th century. The stone gate piers have niches on the N.E. face, modillion cornices on all four sides, and ball finials. Curved wing-walls connect the piers to the symmetrical cottages on either side. Each cottage is square in plan and each façade comprises a round-headed recess within which the doors and windows are arranged. Above are classical entablatures, pedimented on the N.E. and S.W. fronts.
(6) Ornamental 'Ruins' (790500197), 550 yds. S.W. of (4), are single-storied and have walls of ashlar and rubble; the building dates probably from the first quarter of the 19th century and it does not appear on the O.S. map of 1811. It represents a church and comprises a 'Chancel' and part of a 'N. Transept' (Plate 65). The two-centred E. window has no mouldings and no tracery; above it is a trefoil opening; the E. gable is embattled. At the N.E. and S.E. corners of the chancel are solid octagonal turrets with angle pilasters rising to triangular arcading just above eaves-level. The N.E. turret has a crocketed pinnacle and a cross finial. The N. and S. walls of the chancel have two-centred doorways and lancet windows. The transept has an E. window like that of the chancel. A canopied niche in the S.E. corner has a corbel with acanthus enrichment and gadrooning.
(7) The Model Village of Milton Abbas stands in a wooded valley ½ m. S.E. of the original town (see (20)). It was built in c. 1780 and comprises two rows of cottages and other buildings, all set out on either side of a gently winding road that follows the bottom of the valley (Plate 177). The cottages are separated from the road by wide grass verges and, until recently, alternated with large chestnut-trees. Externally most of the cottages are uniform; a few buildings which differ from the standard pattern will be described separately (monuments (8–10)). The standard cottages are two-storied and have cob walls, thatched roofs, rectangular plans, and front elevations comprising a central doorway with a transomed two-light casement window on each side, and three two-light windows on the first floor. Each cottage was originally meant to comprise two tenements (B.M. Add. MS. 41133 f. 95) but several have now become single dwellings. In nearly every case the central doorway opens into a vestibule, from which lateral doorways open into the tenements. Each staircase is lit by one light of the central two-light window. The present fireplaces are of the late 19th century, probably replacing original open fireplaces. In a few cases the stairs ascend in the direction opposed to that illustrated, and two of the cottages have single staircases. A cottage located half-way between (8) and (9) has, at the rear, a single-storied outbuilding of cob and thatch which is said to have been a factory for window-glass; its windows have panes with scratched inscriptions of 1793–1830.
(8) Almshouses (80630182), at the centre of the model village and directly across the road from (2), are single storied and have walls of banded brick and flint with stone dressings; the roofs are tiled, with stone-slate verges (Plate 178). The almshouses were originally in the old village, having been built c. 1674 (will of John Tregonwell), and they were rebuilt on the present site in 1779. The transfer and preservation in 1779 of a 17th-century façade appears to be an early consequence of the Romantic movement. The building consists of a long range, gabled at the E. and W. ends, interrupted at the centre by a transverse hall with a slightly higher roof, gabled to N. and S. The S. front of the hall is of brick with ashlar dressings; it has three round-headed arches supported on two Tuscan columns and responds; the keystones are ornamented with faceted 'jewels'. Flanking this arcade, somewhat crude Corinthian columns on pedestals support a horizontal entablature with a plain frieze and an enriched cornice. The gable above is of brick with a moulded stone coping and has, in the tympanum, three round windows with moulded stone architraves, and a central stone panel embossed with a shield-of-arms of Milton impaling Sackville under a baron's coronet; a tablet below the shield records the re-erection of the building in 1779. On each side of the central hall are three tenements, each with a chamfered doorway with a four-centred head, and a square-headed chamfered and hollow-chamfered two-light casement window. The brick chimneystacks are set diagonally and in pairs. Inside, the hall originally had an attic but the floor has been removed, leaving exposed beams on shaped stone corbels. The hall fireplace has narrow stop-chamfered stone jambs and a mantelshelf on shaped wooden brackets. The fireplace surrounds in the tenements are similar to that of the hall.
(9) The Vicarage (80340170), 350 yds. W. of (2), is of two storeys with dormer-windowed attics and has rendered walls, probably of cob, and stone-slated roofs; it was built in c. 1780. The symmetrical five-bay S. front (Plate 55) has, on the ground floor, a central doorway flanked by pairs of sashed windows and, above, corresponding windows on either side of a large central fanlight; the fanlight and the doorway are set in a shallow round-headed recess. The W. front is of two bays with sashed windows, as before; one of the windows has been extended to the floor to make a french window. Inside, the hall is spanned by an elliptical arch; the stairs have open strings, a plain balustrade and a moulded handrail.
(10) The Hambro Arms Inn (80820191), 200 yds. N.E. of (2), includes an original two-storied front range of c. 1780, with cob walls and thatched roofs, and details similar to those of the cottages (7). A parallel range was added at the rear, probably in the 19th century. A stable range to the N.E. is in line with the front range and is now joined to it under a continuous roof, but originally the two ranges were probably separate. A lead pump-head is dated 1835.
(11) Delcombe Manor (79310482), house, near the N.W. end of the parish and over 1½ m. N. of (1), is two-storied, with walls that are mainly of banded flint and ashlar, and with tiled roofs. The house was built c. 1750 from materials taken from the mediaeval abbey; it comprises three separate buildings united by a long screen wall, facing S.W. At the N.W. end is a building of one room, known as the 'chapel'. Its gabled S.W. wall, forming part of the screen, is defined by diagonal two-stage buttresses; in the centre it has an early 16th-century window of two hollow-chamfered lights with two-centred heads; above is a modern attic window. The side and rear walls of the 'chapel' are of brick. The screen wall on the S.E. of the 'chapel' contains a 15th-century window of one two-centred light with foliate spandrels. Further S.E. the screen forms the S.W. front of the manor house; it is of three bays defined by diagonal weathered buttresses; originally the bays were crowned by a large central gable with smaller gables on each side, but these have now been modified by heightening of the walls; the windows, central doorway and porch are modern. Further S.E. the screen wall contains a trefoiled door-head, probably of the 14th century but recut and reset; adjacent are two reset loop lights, perhaps from a vice turret. Further still to the S.E. the screen is pierced by a doorway with a moulded four-centred head, continuous jambs and quatrefoil spandrels; reset over it is a stone carved with Abbot William's rebus and the date 1515. Next comes the S.E. cottage, which corresponds with the manor house in having three gabled bays defined by diagonal two-stage buttresses; the gables in this case have not been altered; symmetrically disposed in the middle bay are three two-light windows, uniform with that of the 'chapel'. Finally, continuing the same line, a section of the screen wall repeats the gable of the 'chapel', first described. The N.E. front and the side walls of the manor house block are rendered and the openings have been modernised; behind the S.W. screen, the walls of the cottage are of brick and have brick dentil cornices. Inside, the 'chapel' contains a 16th-century fireplace surround with a hollow-chamfered and ogee-moulded four-centred head.
(12) Cottage (79990229), 150 yds. E. of (1), appears on Woodward's estate map of 1769–71 and is the only dwelling of the old town (see (20)) to survive. It is of one storey with attics and has cob walls and a thatched roof; it appears to be of early 18th-century origin with 19th-century extensions in brick and thatch to S. and E. The original W. front is of three bays, with a central doorway symmetrically flanked by casement windows and with two attic dormer windows asymmetrically disposed. The 19th-century S. extension is of one bay. Inside, the ground-floor partitions of the original cottage have been removed to form a single room; in the N. wall is an original open fireplace with a stop-chamfered bressummer. To the E. of the fireplace is an oven.
(13) Dale Cottage, 500 yds. S.W. of the parish church, is two-storied with cob walls and thatched roofs. The cottage is not shown on Woodward's map and it probably dates from the end of the 18th century. The W. front has three casement windows and two doorways on the ground floor, and four casement windows above. The kitchen, to the E., is a later addition; its date is probably indicated by a glass window pane on which is scratched 'The first light ever I made which was in 1831, Thos. Longman'.
(14) West Luccombe Farm (80940124), house, 700 yds. S.E. of (2), is of two storeys with rendered walls and with roofs partly thatched and partly slated; it is of the early 19th century. The S. front is symmetrical and of seven bays. Some 50 yds. to the S. is a pair of Cottages, of two storeys with cob walls and thatched roofs; these cottages appear on Woodward's map of 1769–71.
(15) Milton Mill (80500087), house, ½ m. S. of (2), is of two storeys with attics and has brick walls and slated mansard roofs. The building does not appear on the 1769–71 map but it is included in the O.S. of 1811. The casement windows are of cast iron with small rectangular panes. Mill Cottages, 100 yds. to the S.E., do not appear on the map of 1811; they have cob walls and thatched roofs.
(16) Long Close Farm (79320074), house, 1 m. S.W. of (2), is two-storied, with brick walls and slated roofs. The farmhouse does not appear on the 1769–71 map and is presumably of later date; it is shown on the 1811 survey. Adjacent is a Barn of cob and thatch that does appear on the 1769–71 map.
(17) Long Ash Farm (78920108), house, 600 yds. N.W. of the foregoing, is two-storied and has walls of rubble, flint, brick and cob, and thatched roofs. As with (16) the house was built after 1769–71 and before 1811.
(18)Bagber Cottages (80809925), on the S. boundary of the parish, have walls of banded flint and ashlar, and tiled roofs. They are perhaps of early 17th-century origin but they have been much altered and modernised. Windows and doorways are of the 19th century and the upper parts of the walls have been renewed in brickwork. About 100 yds. to the N.E. is a pair of cob and thatch Cottages that are probably of the late 18th century.
(19) Milton Park Farm (80980275), house, ¾ m. N.E. of (1), is of one and two storeys and has walls of flint with brick dressings, and of cob; the roofs are thatched. The farmhouse was built early in the 18th century and it was enlarged to N. and W. in the 19th century. Outbuildings to the E. are of the late 18th century. The stables and a granary to the S. are of the 19th century.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(20) Earthwork Remains (800019) of the former town of Milton Abbas cover about 25 acres on either side of the Milborne Brook, S. of (1). As early as 1086 the town, which grew up S. of the abbey precinct, was one of the largest settlements in central Dorset (D.B. Vol. I, 78a) and it retained its importance throughout the mediaeval period and even after the Dissolution. As many as 104 taxpayers are listed in 1333, and 137 people signed the Protestation Returns of 1641–2 (Dorset Protestation Returns, ed. E. A. Fry, 1912, 52). Between 1771 and 1790 the town was almost completely demolished and the inhabitants were rehoused in a new village to the S.E. (7); the site of the old town was then landscaped by Lancelot Brown (M. W. Beresford & J. K. S. St. Joseph, Mediaeval England 1958, 106; M. W. Beresford, History on the Ground 1957, 198–203; Dorset Procs. XXV (1904), 1–7). The earthwork remains complement the plan of the town which was made by William Woodward in 1769–1771, before the destruction (Plate 176). The plan is correct in outline, but many minor details were left out and it is clear that the rectilinear drawing of hedges and streets is schematic.
Of the northern third of the town, comprising the former Market Street and High Street, very little remains. It was destroyed in the garden landscaping and only one cottage (12) and the base of a presumed Market Cross survive; the latter, a roughly shaped block of stone with a square mortice for the cross-shaft, lies on the grass lawn about 100 yds. E.S.E. of (1). Brick foundations have been found, 2 ft. to 3 ft. below the present ground surface, S. of the cross, on either side of the former High Street.
Outside the gardens, in the park to the S., the remains are better preserved. Little remains of Newport Street, but Broad Street is almost wholly identifiable, except at one point where it has been blocked; the street survives as a hollow-way 20 ft. to 40 ft. wide and up to 2 ft. deep. Fishway Street, its S.W. continuation, survives in a similar form. Side lanes off these streets are preserved as well-marked hollow-ways but the sites of the houses that existed in 1771 are now ill-defined hollows. Several well-preserved rectangular building sites, bounded by low banks, are seen on the ground, but none of them is shown as a house on Woodward's map, indicating that they were already abandoned in his time. Along Broad Street a few of the boundaries of the gardens are preserved, and there are other slight scarps and banks which are not shown on the plan.
The line of Back Street is largely obliterated by a modern drive, but almost all of the house sites are preserved as irregular scoops cut back into the valley side. The boundaries of the garden plots to the E. of these houses are all preserved as banks or scarps, 6 ins. to 1 ft. high; they exactly correspond with those shown on the 1771 map. Within the plots various low terraces and building sites indicate the different layouts of individual gardens. Other hollow-ways, terrace-ways, banks and scarps, on either side of the existing Fish Pond, correspond with roads and closes that existed in 1771. Soil marks seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1934: 3173–4) to the W. of the remains are probably the boundaries of other closes.
(21) Settlement Remains, formerly part of Bagber, lie N. of Bagber Farm (807996–808992). Nothing is known of the history of the settlement, probably because it was always recorded in documents together with Milton Abbas (see Fägersten, 191 and Hutchins IV, 340). The remains cover about 12 acres but they are in poor condition; they lie on either side of the Milborne Brook and consist of closes 20 yds. to 50 yds. wide and 70 yds. long, bounded by low banks. There are at least thirteen closes on the W. side of the stream and eight on the E. Within the closes are slight traces of building platforms.
(22) Settlement Remains, formerly part of Hewish, lie S. of Hewish Farm (806002–807996). The earthworks are now almost destroyed by ploughing but they represent an extensive occupation area of some 9 acres, on both sides of the Milborne Brook. Like Bagber (21) nothing is known of the history of the settlement. Before ploughing, eight or ten closes, 20 yds. to 30 yds. wide and 35 yds. to 70 yds. long, lay W. of the stream, and at least six closes lay to the E. (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1934: 5113). Some of the banks and scarps bounding the closes remain up to 2 ft. high, and former building platforms can be recognised in areas of flint rubble and disintegrated cob. Large quantities of pottery of the 12th–14th centuries have been picked up on the site.
(23) Deer Pale (816028–824016), in Milton Park Wood, lies about 1 m. E.N.E. of (7); nothing is known of its date or history. The pale encloses about 155 acres of land, on the sides and bottom of a dry valley which drains S.E.; towards its upper or N.W. end the valley bifurcates. The pale consists of a bank 15 ft. to 20 ft. wide and up to 5 ft. high, with an inner ditch.
(24) Artificial Terraces (801023), of unknown purpose, lie in Pigeon House Plantation, 300 yds. E. of (1), on a S.W.facing slope. Two terraces, 400 yds. long and sinuous on plan, are from 20 yds. to 60 yds. wide and are bounded by scarps up to 21 ft. high. Where they are preserved the ends are square; this, together with the sinuous plan and the general appearance of the monument, suggests that the terraces have never been ploughed. The Chapel of St. Catherine (3) stands on the lower terrace, proving that the terraces are earlier than the late 12th century; they may have been a vineyard or perhaps were for the cultivation of some other special crop connected with the monastery.
(25) Cultivation Remains. The date of the enclosure of the open fields of Milton Abbas is unknown. Remains of open fields occur in two places. On both sides of the Milborne Brook, S. of (13), are the fragmentary remains of contour strip lynchets; on the W. side of the brook the strips have been subsequently enclosed and reploughed. In Lower Lodge Plantation (799016– 802013) are the well-preserved remains of sixteen contour strip lynchets; they are arranged in three end-on furlongs with risers up to 15 ft. high.
Roman and Prehistoric
(26) Buildings and Occupation Debris, Romano-British, were found at Bagber by C. Warne in 1841 and by J. C. Mansel Pleydell in 1896; the exact locations are unknown, but probably were near 80009930. The finds were on a hill-top, W. of the Milborne Brook, where the chalk is capped with Clay-with-flints. Warne found a rectangular building (44 ft. by 25 ft.) with much pottery and with 2nd-century coins. ManselPleydell cleared three chalk-cut chambers, two of them circular. One chamber was 6 ft. in diameter and had a clay lining 9 ins. thick which had been subjected to 'intense heat'. A second chamber, communicating with the first, had in the centre an undetached block of chalk 2 ft. by 3 ft. on plan and 3 ft. high; it supported a flat block of sandstone. The largest chamber, with a floor level 8 ins. lower than the others, had rough tooling on the walls. Finds included samian and New Forest wares, part of a circular shale table, a quern, and a coin of Vespasian. It is not certain that these remains are of pottery kilns, as is usually stated; the sherds which survive in D.C.M. do not include wasters. (Hutchins I, 562; Dorset Procs. XIII (1892), 184; XVII (1896), 128–31.)
(27) Cross-dyke (80400206–80530191), immediately N. of (7), runs from N.W. to S.E. across the top of a spur at over 500 ft. above O.D. The dyke is about 430 yds. long and is slightly convex to the slope of the spur top, the ditch being on the uphill (N.E.) side. The bank is about 10 ft. wide and 1 ft. high and the ditch has similar dimensions. The earthwork looks larger in its S. part because it lies on top of a 'Celtic' field lynchet. The ditch cuts at least one lynchet running in from the E. On the N.W., the remains of the dyke are fragmentary, being cut by a former road to the Abbey. Both ends of the dyke, although disturbed, appear to rest on the shoulder of the spur, below which the ground falls away steeply.
(29) Bowl (81550006), N. of Cayles Down Copse, on the N. slope of a broad ridge over 400 ft. above O.D., has been much ploughed. The crop mark suggests that the ditch is penannular with an interruption 6 ft. wide on the S.E. Diameter of mound 52 ft., ht. 1 ft.; width of ditch 8 ft.