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Milton Abbey church, Dorset: Monument to Lady Caroline Milton, commissioned by Joseph Damer, Baron Milton, 1775, executed (4)

Signed and dated

  • 1775


Milton Abbey was founded in c935, and following the Dissolution it was acquired by Sir John Tegonwell. Through marriage the estate passed to Sir Jacob Bancks, who sold it in 1752 to Joseph Damer (1718-98). Damer was a local man, and served as MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1741-41, Bramber in 1747-54 and Dorchester in 1747-54. He was created Baron Milton in 1753, and Earl of Dorchester in 1792. Milton - as he then was - demolished the medieval village which had surrounded the abbey, and rebuilt the house, incorporating the medieval hall, in 1771-76 to designs by Sir William Chambers (1722-96). Since 1954 this has been a boys' school. Milton also built a new model village in c1774-80, probably also to designs by Chambers.

In 1742 Milton had married Lady Caroline Sackville, the daughter of the 1st Duke of Dorset. She died in 1775, and Robert Adam was commissioned to design her funerary monument for the north transept of Milton Abbey church, adjacent to Chambers' house. Milton's grief is known to have been considerable, and three years later, in 1778, Horace Walpole reported that Milton had been reclusive ever since his wife's death. The monument was carved in white marble by Agostino Carlini RA (c1718-90) in accordance with Adam's design, and survives in situ. It is composed of two reclining figures supported by a table tomb base, showing Lady Milton sleeping, with Lord Milton propped on his elbow and observing his wife. Carlini exhibited a model of the monument at the Royal Academy in 1784.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 56, 81; M.I. Webb, 'Georgian sculpture: architect and sculptor', Architectural Review, 1958, p. 331; J. Newman, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Dorset, 1972, pp. 285-89; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 363-68; I. Roscoe, A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851, 2009, pp. 202-3; 'Damer, Joseph, 1st Baron Milton [I] (1718-98), of Milton Abbey, Dorset, and Sronell, co. Tipperary', History of Parliament online

Frances Sands, 2013



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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Milton Abbey church, Dorset: Monument to Lady Caroline Milton, commissioned by Joseph Damer, Baron Milton, 1775, executed (4)