Milton Abbey School

Coordinates: 50°49′12.74″N 2°17′14.75″W / 50.8202056°N 2.2874306°W / 50.8202056; -2.2874306

Milton Abbey School
Established 1954
Type Independent school
Day and boarding school
Religion Church of England
Chairman of Governors James Barnes
Location Milton Abbas
near Blandford Forum

DT11 0BZ
DfE URN 113932 Tables
Staff 50
Students 212 as of January 2012
Gender Coeducational
Ages 13–18
Houses Athelstan, Damer, Hambro, Hodgkinson and Tregonwell
Former pupils Milton Abbey Association

Milton Abbey school is an independent school for day and boarding pupils in the village of Milton Abbas, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, in South West England. It has 243 pupils as of January 2012, in five houses: Athelstan, Damer, Hambro, Hodgkinson and Tregonwell. The school was founded in 1954 and is co-educational.

The school has a rural campus, with facilities that include a gym, swimming pool, shooting range, golf course, a 320-seat theatre, art department and design block, an astro turf , an outward bound area, a 15th-century dining hall, an Abbey chapel that can be traced back to the 10th century and grounds designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown. The main house, which was built by Joseph Damer, 1st Earl of Dorchester from 1780 onwards, houses the administrative hub of the Estate, classrooms, the Senior Common Room, the King's Room and all the boys' boarding houses. The girls' house, Hodgkinson, can be found at the back quad.

Abbey church

Milton Abbey School
Milton Abbey Chapel and main building

The Abbey forms the central heart of the school. A chapel service takes place for the whole school twice a week. On Monday there is a house assembly and Wednesday a whole school assembly. On Sundays the whole school gathers for a formal Sunday worship, and there are regular communion services throughout the term. The school, although a Church of England foundation, welcomes people of any faith, and also of none.

The abbey church is built in a mixture of Ham stone, Chilmark stone and flint and consists only of the choir, central tower and transepts. Its style is mostly decorated gothic dating from the mid-14th century with some 15th-century details in the tower and north transept. The eastern Lady Chapel was demolished after the suppression and some alterations were made by Wyatt in the late 18th century.[1] The Earl and Countess of Dorchester were also generous to the church, and their joint tomb, designed by Robert Adam with sculpture by Agostino Carlini, is to be found in the north transept. Perhaps the most striking feature of the church's interior, however, is its south window, designed as a Tree of Jesse by Augustus Pugin. Other features of interest are the 14th century pulpitum and sedilia, the 15th century reredos and pyx canopy, and the 16th century monument to John Tregonwell.[1]


Milton Abbey in the late 19th century

Milton Abbey (fully, the Abbey Church of St Mary, St Samson, and St Branwalader) in Dorset was a Benedictine foundation, but only part of the church now survives and is used as the Milton Abbey School chapel. A college of secular canons was founded here by King Athelstan, in 933,[2] and there are two medieval paintings of the King and his mother in the chancel. This foundation was replaced in 964 by a Benedictine monastery by King Edgar.[3] The medieval church burned down in 1309,[2] and although rebuilding started straight away it did not reach its present size until about 1400.[2]

One of the church's benefactors was Sir John Tregonwell, whose family came into the possession of the buildings in 1540 following the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.[2] Tregonwell fell from the roof of the church in a childhood accident, but his life was saved when his wide pantaloons filled with air and broke his fall. In thanks, he bequeathed his library to the church.

In 1752, the buildings were bought by the Damer family:[2] in 1771, to make way for a new house and landscaped estate, the 1st Baron Milton (later 1st Earl of Dorchester) demolished the remaining abbey buildings, keeping only part of the church as a private chapel, and the adjacent market town of Milton (creating Milton Abbas to rehouse the former inhabitants) in 1780. The new house was designed by William Chambers and the gardens by Capability Brown.[2]

In 1852, the merchant banker Carl Joachim Hambro acquired Milton Abbey to make it his family home.[2] He set about a major restoration programme, including an extensive refurbishment of the Abbey itself. The Hambro family developed and lived at Milton Abbey until 1932,[2] when it was sold and for a while they relocated to Hedge End Farm nearby, followed by a permanent move to Dixton Manor in Gloucestershire.

Milton Abbey School was the setting for "Bamfylde School," in the 1980 13 part T.V. series of R.F. Delderfield`s To Serve Them All My Days.


The parklands were landscaped in the late 18th century by Capability Brown. They are Grade II* listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[4]

In 2009, the school started to develop a farm, which is worked on by staff, to promote environmental awareness and work towards an element of self-sufficiency. Traditional vegetables are grown, in addition to herbs, cutting flowers, fruit and some crops. The Estate also has a small pig herd, and will have been investing in chickens and an apiary during the year 2010 to 2011.

The school has a golf course which winds around the main house and the Abbey Church. Designed by Peter Alliss and opened in 1972, it is a nine-hole, par-3 course which is used by pupils and by visitors, who are required to pay a small green fee.

List of headmasters

Notable former pupils


  1. 1 2 Betjeman, John, ed. (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches; the South. London: Collins; p. 175
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Milton Abbey: History
  3. Betjeman, John, ed. (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches; the South. London: Collins; p. 175
  4. Historic England. "Milton Abbey (1000721)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  5. Downton Abbey's etiquette expert on how TV drama was rocked by asparagus rammy Publisher: Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Published: 7 August 2011. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  6. Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, OBE Publisher: Parker Entertainments. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  7. The Dreamboat: Rupert Evans Publisher: London Evening Standard. Published: 2 October 2009. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  8. 1 2 Milton Abbey School – Alumni Publisher: Tatler Schools Guide 2013. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  9. Too young, too far, too fast? Publisher: Times Higher Education. Published: 23 February 1998. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  10. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Publisher: Milton Abbey Association of Milton Abbey School. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  11. Milton Abbey old boy wins BAFTA Publisher: Milton Abbey Association of Milton Abbey School. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  12. Edward Douglas John Hay, 13th Marquess of Tweeddale Publisher: The Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  13. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 3960.
  14. Tom Homer leads London Irish to victory Publisher: The Daily Telegraph. Published: 22 March 2009. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  15. Charles Edgar Sanuel Montagu, 5th Baron Swaythling Publisher: The Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  16. Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 3835.
  17. John Alfred Stoddard Nash – Biography. Publisher: Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved: 15 May 2014.
  18. Ovens named in England Under-20 side Publisher: This is – (The Bath Chronicle). Published: 2 February 2009. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  19. School's double honour Publisher: This is Published: 30 January 2009. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  20. Eric Douglas Saumarez, 7th Baron de Saumarez Publisher: The Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  21. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 1, page 1111.
  22. Camilla's brother in love split? Publisher: Mail Online. Published: 17 September 2009. Retrieved: 17 April 2013.
  23. Hill, Jack W. (April 4, 2013). "Italian troubadour follows songwriting path of Dylan". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
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