Abbey was set-up by King Athelstan in AD 938. The Benedictine Monastery
was itself founded in AD938. Around it grew a thriving town which had a
grammar school founded in 1521, over 100 houses, many taverns and a 'brewery
of great reknown'. Henry VIII gave the abbey and surrounding area to
his lawyer, who arranged his divorce from Catherine of Aragon (makes the
OJ Simpson lawyers seem like paupers).
The estate was purchased by the Earl of Dorchester who built himself the present mansion house in 1771. It is built around a quadrangle which makes it perfect for its present use as a school. It has impressive grounds designed by Capability Brown. He disliked the noise and smell of the nearby town and with the high handedness, typical of many 18th century squires, had it destroyed and replaced just over the hill and out of sight with what is today the village of Milton Abbas.
Built in 1780 by Sir William Chambers, Milton Abbas is considered to be the first planned town or village in Britain, beating Milton Keynes by almost 200 years. In this early attempt at town planning, sturdy thatched cottages were built on each side of the wide road. Each had an expanse of lawn at the front and, between them, a great chestnut tree. Alas the trees were felled several years ago having become diseased. An Inn, and a church by James Wyatt are included in the complex, as well as neat almshouses.
The Village is situated north of the A354 road, midway between Dorchester and Blandford Forum . Signposted form Milborne St. Andrew.