2017 Programme
at Milton Abbey

Milton Abbey Historic Church and Landscape

Milton Abbey’s New ‘Experience’ 2017

Following the popular Capability Brown exhibition last year, a new exhibition will be presented in July and August, entitled ‘History, Heritage and Landscape’.

The main element of the exhibition will be the Landscape, with work by prize winning artists and photographers, as well as artists from Dorset Visual Arts and Tim Scott- Bolton, very popular last year. In addition there will be films, as well as recommended walks and children’s games. All of these will feature Dorset’s most remarkable landscapes, including the most special one-Milton Abbey, which is rated by John Phibbs, the leading expert on Capability Brown, as one of the top five Brown landscapes in the whole of England.

Milton Abbey is also listed in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest as ‘being of exceptional historic interest’.

A new feature will be displays recording the History and Heritage associated with the Abbey. ranging from the foundation by King Athelstan, the first king of all England, to the monastic period, the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry V111, to the dramatic tenure of Lord Milton, who destroyed the old town of Middleton, created the village of Milton Abbas, and hired Capability Brown to create the glorious landscape that we all enjoy today.

With all these elements to enjoy, no wonder it has been described as ‘The Milton Abbey Experience’.

View at the grounds of Milton Abbey

Brown at Milton Abbey

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown changed the face of eighteenth century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green.

2016 marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a designer who changed the national landscape and created a style which has shaped people’s picture of the quintessential English countryside. As the first ever celebration of Brown’s extensive works, the Capability Brown Festival 2016 brought together a huge range of events, openings and exhibitions around the country running between March and October

A view at Milton Abbey

St Catherine’s Chapel, Milton Abbey, Lord Milton’s mansion, and the village of Milton Abbas are embraced and integrated by a breathtaking 500 acre landscape designed by Capability Brown, which began in 1763 and continued up to Brown’s death in 1783.

Three valleys converge, and inside one of the valleys is the village of Milton Abbas, contained either side by a silhouette of trees on top of the hillsides. This picturesque ‘lost village’ in a wooded valley is the first ‘new town’ in England.

Milton Abbey is at the focal point of the converging valleys, encircled by 16 miles of walks, rides, and carriage drives designed to draw the visitor through the space, enriched en route by features such as the folly - called the Sham Chapel - built by Brown and William Chambers. Everywhere there are glimpses and vistas opening up to the Abbey as the route is travelled. This sublime landscape is one of the finest examples of the work of Capability Brown in England.

A view at Milton Abbey

The 18th century English writer on agriculture and economics, Arthur Young, visited Milton Abbey in 1771 and was overwhelmed by the stupendous reach of grass and woods on the north side of Damer’s new mansion - ‘a remarkable winding valley three miles long, surrounded on each side by hills whose variety is very great. It is all lawn; and as the surface has many fine swells and other gentle inequalities, the effect is everywhere beautiful.

A painting of Milton Abbey

The CB 300 exhibition was held in the Summer of 2016.

The elements included:

  • A major topographical artwork of the landscape by Royal Academician Stephen Farthing, who has exhibited at the Tate Gallery , the National Portrait Gallery and around the world and lectures in London and New York.
  • A massive photographic view of the landscape.
  • A wide range of paintings of Brown sites around the country by painter/author Tim Scott- Bolton, whose book was published in April, featuring two years of work painting Brown sites.
  • A new film narrated by leading Brown expert, John Phibbs, about the Milton Abbey landscape. John Phibbs is holding master classes on Brown in 2016 and two of his books about Brown will be published this year.
  • A short film made by the national organisers of the Brown Festival about the life and work of Brown.

Watercolour of trees

  • A collection of embroideries based on Brown’s work by the Guild of Embroiderers.
  • A range of work by 11 artists of Dorset Visual Arts.
  • Photography by a number of distinguished photographers, both of Milton Abbey and other sites.
  • An interactive digital guided map of the Milton Abbey landscape.
  • A computer game for children to explore the area.
  • A film for children to learn about Brown’s life and work.

Stephen Farthing painting of Capability Brown

Brown The Man

Lancelot Brown was baptised on 30 Aug 1716 at Kirkharle, Northumberland, the fifth of the six children of William Brown, a yeoman farmer and Ursula, née Hall, who had worked in the big house on the Kirkharle estate . He went to the village school at Cambo, and then began work as a gardener at Kirkharle, leaving in 1739.

In 1741 he reached Stowe, Buckinghamshire where he rapidly assumed responsibility for the execution of both architectural and landscaping works in the famous garden. It was at Stowe in 1744 that Brown married Bridget Wayet, with whom he eventually had nine children.

While at Stowe, Brown also began working as an independent designer and contractor and in autumn 1751, he was able to move with his family to the Mall, Hammersmith, the market garden area of London.

His vast range of 250 projects included Blenheim, Chatsworth, Harewood, Longleat, Petworth., Syon and Broadlands.

He also practiced architecture, and during the 1750s contributed to several country houses, including Burghley House, Northants. However his architecture played second fiddle to his ‘place-making’. In 1764 he was appointed to the gardens of Hampton Court, Richmond and St James and he then moved to Wilderness House, Hampton Court. He continued to work and travel until his sudden collapse and death on 6th February 1783.

He died at his daughter Bridget Holland’s house in London, but was buried at Fenstanton, in Cambridgeshire, the only place he is known to have owned property and where he became Lord of the Manor.

Capability Brown Copyright Cosway/Bridgeman Images

Plan visit

Located approximately 30 miles south-west of Salisbury, Milton Abbey can be found mid-way between the Georgian market town, Blandford Forum and Dorchester in Dorset.

Parking is available at the entrance to the main drive and limited availability in front of the school, and there is a low bridge (10'3") giving restricted height on the road from Milton Abbas to Milton Abbey.

Our address:
Milton Abbey
Milton Abbas
Dorset
DT11 0BZ

Click here to contact us.

Click here for an online map.

From Salisbury on the A354
Having passed through the village of Pimperne you will come to a roundabout at which you need to turn left onto the Blandford bypass. At the next two roundabouts go straight over, you will then pass through Thornicombe before the road dips into Winterborne Whitechurch. On entering the village take the second right hand turn (next to the Milton Arms Public House). Follow the road until you reach Milton Abbas, take the first left down through the village (please note satellite navigation devices may tell you to continue). At the bottom of the village take a right hand turn, following the signs for Milton Abbey Church, follow the road past the rear entrance to the School, you will approach the main gates on your left. Go straight up the drive, parking is at the front of the school

From Poole on the A350
Having passed through the village of Charlton Marshall, eventually you will come to a roundabout at which you need to turn left onto the Blandford bypass. At the next two roundabouts go straight over, you will then pass through Thornicombe before the road dips into Winterborne Whitechurch. On entering the village take the second right hand turn (next to the Milton Arms Public House). Follow the road until you reach Milton Abbas; take the first left down through the village (please note satellite navigation devices may tell you to continue). At the bottom of the village take a right hand turn, following the signs for Milton Abbey Church, follow the road past the rear entrance to the School, you will approach the main gates on your left.

From Dorchester on the A354
Having entered the village of Milborne St. Andrew, you need to take the second left-hand turn (just past the Royal Oak Public House). Keep following the road which will eventually take a sharp right hand bend followed by a tight left hand bend after which you need to take the first left, signposted Milton Abbey. Follow the road past the rear entrance to the School; you will approach the main gates on your left.

From Shaftesbury on the A350
Following the A350, you will pass through the village of Iwerne Minster before eventually reaching Stourpaine and a roundabout marking the intersection with A354. Take the A354 (Blandford Bypass) and at the next two roundabouts go straight over, you will then pass through Thornicombe before the road dips into Winterborne Whitechurch. On entering the village take the second right hand turn (next to the Milton Arms Public House).

Follow the road until you reach Milton Abbas; take the first left down through the village (please note satellite navigation devices may tell you to continue). At the bottom of the village take a right hand turn, following the signs for Milton Abbey Church, follow the road past the rear entrance to the School, you will approach the main gates on your left.

The most picturesque route
Approaching Milton Abbey from the village of Hilton gives the most spectacular view - like being in France and happening on a chateau or abbey.

Alternatively, on foot, from the stunningly picturesque village of Milton Abbas, take the signposted half-mile pedestrian footpath alongside the lake.

Approximate Journey Times

Road
London - 3 hours
Oxford - 2 hours
Bristol - 1 hour 30 minutes
Chichester - 1 hour 40 minutes
Salisbury - 45 minutes
Poole - 30 minutes

Rail
London to Wareham - 2 hrs 15 minutes
London to Dorchester - 2 hrs 30 minutes
London to Salisbury - 1 hour 30 minutes

Airports
London Gatwick - 2 hours 45 minutes
London Heathrow - 2 hours 30 minutes
Bristol - 1 hour 45 minutes
Southampton - 1 hour 10 minutes
Bournemouth - 45 minutes


News/Social

PRESS RELEASE

5 July 2016

The official opening of the Milton Abbey Capability Brown Exhibition took place on Tuesday 5th July. The exhibition was declared open by Gilly Drummond, the chairman of the national Cpability Brown Festival.

Image from the official opening

In attendance were the Lord Lieutenant, Bishop David Hallam and many other dignataries. The exhibition opens to the general public next Sunday 10th July and will continue until 21 August and contains an exceptional range of artworks, paintings, photography , film and an interactive experience. This whole range of multi-media is why the exhibition has been labelled’ The Capabilty Brown Experience’

Image from the official opening

The distinguished visitors toured the exhibition and saw revealed the magic of Brown’s work at Milton Abbey, rated as one of the Top Ten out of more than 200 in England. Other Brown sites in Dorset include Sherborne Castle and Highcliffe Castle.

Image from the official opening