Landscape gardening and the Picturesque

Estate plan, Milton Abbas, Dorset

Milton Abbas - early plan_530x632

Estate plan, Milton Abbas, Dorset
Artist: Unknown (1760s)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings & Archives Collection

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Milton Abbey was converted into a private house. For the next two hundred years the house and village of Milton Abbas existed in close proximity, just as they had done for centuries before. In 1752 Joseph Damer, 1st Lord Milton, bought the estate and village. Having commenced rebuilding the main house to designs first laid out by John Vardy (1718-65) and then Sir William Chambers (1723-96) he decided that the village had to be located somewhere out of sight.

This map, dating from the 1760s, reveals the position of the village and house, plus the layout of the estate, shortly before Lord Milton’s re-planning. Most of the village was sited just south of the old abbey church, a fragment of which remained.

The map reveals the higgledy-piggledy nature of the estate: roads meander; cottages are dotted here and there; and smallholdings are scattered throughout. The cheerful colours, and naïve trees make this all appear playful, a landscape of innocence, perhaps? For better or worse, all of this was swept away by Lord Milton.


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