Milton Abbot Players
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Milton Abbot Milton Abbot

Milton Abbot lies on the Tavistock - Launceston Road, about midway between the two towns, and this is possibly the source of its old name of Middlestone or Middeltona. In the Domesday Book the village is mentioned as being the property of the Abbots of Tavistock. The church of St Constantine and Aegideus was built in the 15th Century, probably on the site of earlier buildings dating back to the 11th Century. St Constantine was a 6th Century Cornish king, but little is known of Aegideus or Aegidius - his name may be synonymous with St Giles.

Interior of St Constantine and Aegideus

Endsleigh House

After the dissolution of Tavistock Abbey, the village passed into the estate of the Russell family, later to become the Dukes of Bedford. The sixth Duke built Endsleigh, a country residence in the Cottage Orné style, overlooking the Tamar, about a mile south of the village. The building was designed by Jeffry Wyatville, who also designed many of the buildings in the village, including the village school. The extensive grounds were landscaped by Humphry Repton. Every summer the family would spend several weeks here fishing and hunting.

Other buildings in the village were designed by Sir Edwyn Lutyens.

In 1850 the village had five pubs, four shops, four bootmakers, a miller, and a poulation of over 1200. Today there is a general store, butchers, post office and one pub - the Edgcumbe Arms. The poulation is around 500, but the primary school is thriving, with over 100 pupils from the village and the surrounding area.

Milton Abbot Primary School

Edgcumbe Arms

Village Shop & Post Office

At the beginning of the ninetenth century huge reserves of copper ore were discovered in the Tamar valley south of Milton Abbot, and for the next 150 years the area became heavily industrialised. The great wealth this brought to the landowners - the Dukes of Bedford, was not lost to the local communities, who benefitted from community projects, including new housing and improved education. Once the copper ores had been worked out, the land reverted to agriculture and forestry. The mines close to the village produced commercial quantities of manganese, used in steel production, and were worked until the second world war.

New houses

Old houses around the church.

The Village Hall and Men's Reading Room was built by the Duke of Bedford in 1926, on the site of the old Board School. Refurbished in 2004, the hall is in constant use today, and is the venue for productions by the Milton Abbot Players.

Today Milton Abbot is a peaceful rural village, combining agriculture, tourism and family residences. The hill above the village - Ramsdown - is one of the highest points in West Devon, offering spectacular views over the Tamar valley, to Kit Hill in the south, and Bodmin Moor far to the west in Cornwall.



September 2012
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