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MARKET TOWNS OF DORSET (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Milton Abbas in 1837

Milton Abbas, or Abbot, is said to derive its name (which is a contraction of Middleton Abbot) from its situation near the centre of the county. It is in the hundred of Whiteway, in a deep vale inclosed by steep chalk hills on the north and south side, 111 miles from London. The parish comprehends 2,420 acres, and had in 1831 a population of 846 persons : above three-fourths of the population are agricultural. Its market and fairs have been given up.

Here was an abbey founded by King Athelstan, which alone gave any importance to the town, which was in former times more considerable than now. The abbey has been numbered among the mitred abbeys, but erroneously. Its value at the dissolution was £720, 4 shillings and 1 penny gross, or £578, 13 shillings and 11 pence clear. The buildings of the abbey were preserved for a long time, but were gradually pulled down, chiefly to be replaced by more modern erections. The hall yet remains, a noble and magnificent old room : part of the mansion of Milton Abbey, belonging to the Damer family, which enjoyed for some time the title of earl of Dorchester, now extinct. Milton has an almshouse and a grammar-school. The conventual church was for some time the parish church, but a late earl of Dorchester having built a new parish church, converted the old one into a private chapel. It consists of the choir, transepts, and tower of the old abbey church : the choir is chiefly of early decorated character, the transepts and tower perpendicular. The general appearance of this edifice is very fine.

The living of Milton Abbas is a vicarage, of the yearly value of £127, with a glebe-house. In 1833 the parish contained seven day-schools with about 70 children, and two Sunday-schools with about 50.