MILTON is a village of ancient origin, still holding its place midway between the villages of Steventon, Drayton and Sutton, a position which probably accounts for the original name Middeltune, mentioned over 1000 years ago in the Cartularium Saxonicum, a record completed during the reign of Eadgar, King of Wessex, 958 to 975 A.D.
In 956 AD his predecessor Edwy, surnamed The Fair, gave 15 hides of land at Middletune to Alfwin (1)by whom it was conveyed to the Abbey at Abingdon, a hide being a Saxon term of measurement and equivalent to about 80 acres of land.
Later on a Chapel was built at Milton and attached to Sutton, but in the reign of William Rufus (2) the Chapel was separated from Sutton and reserved to the Abbey of Abingdon.
The extravagances of the Red King soon emptied the Royal coffers and he filled them at the expense of the Church. But, during the reign of Henry 1st (3), there was a marked religious revival, and in the time of Abbot Vincent, 1117-1131, it was recorded that Simon, Steward to the king, gave back to the Abbey the Chapel and half a hide of adjoining land adjoining it, with one hide of land elsewhere in Middletune, which he had formerly taken to himself.
The first rector (of Middletune) was John de Allecanygges who was appointed by Edward II in July 1325. Over 200 years later a great change affected this part of the country in the dissolution of the Abbey of Abingdon by Henry VIII in 1534. An enormous sum of money was realized to the Crown by the sale of land, plate and jewels taken from the Abbey and Monasteries. The corrupt state of these monastic houses was given in excuse of this action, but there is every reason to believe that this was greatly exaggerated, and that a great wrong was done to the Church.
The Rectory, Manor and Advowson (4) of Milton was granted by the King (Henry VIII) to his fried Thomas, Lord Wriotheesley, on June 10th 1546, from whom it passed almost immediately to Thomas Calton, whose relative, Edmund Calton was appointed Rector in 1548.
A hundred years passed and then came the Civil war between King and Parliament. It is known that fighting took place in this neighbourhood (5) after the battle of Newbury in October 1644 when Charles 1st retreated to Oxford and the Parliament forces held Abingdon. Tradition here still speaks of the North field (6) as the scene of a battle and we have been told to look for the line of a trench which shows when the corn is up, and that the ditch bounding the field on the north side appears to have been dug out in an unusual manner and may also have been used as a (battle) trench.
Forty years on, and Milton is now connected with a grave national crisis. In Nov 1688 William (Prince) of Orange landed at Brixham and started to march to London. He arrived at Newbury on the evening of December 10th and was accorded an enthusiastic welcome. Next morning the prince with the whole of his army, numbering about 20,000 men, marched from Stow over Snelsmore, along the Wantage Road to Catmore, through the villages of Farnborough and West Ilsley, along the golden mile to East Hendred, despoiling the ancient chapel of the Eyston family on the way, and that night the Prince slept at Milton House (Milton Manor). The troops advanced to Abingdon and quartered there. Three hours after his arrival at Milton, a courier was announced, bringing the startling news that King James II had fled to France. That night the news was confirmed with particulars, and on the morning of December 12th the Prince left Milton, marching into Wallingford with his troops, and on to London.
Milton House has been honoured by another royal visitor. Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, came to England at the invitation of William of Orange and spent three months in 1697-98 in gathering a mass of information, principally concerning our navy and dockyards. Whilst in England he went to Oxford to receive the honorary degree of D.C.L (Doctor of Canon Law) and we imagine that he chose that time to visit Admiral John Benbow, who was then living at Milton. It used to be said that a piece of plate was given to the church in commemoration of the Czar's visit. The famous admiral (7) had two daughters, one of whom married Paul Calton Esq of Milton House. His sword (the Admiral's) is still in the possession of L A Barrett Esq., and his portrait hung for many years in the Inn (8). A large barn near the Red Lion and now the property of Colonel Bowles, stands on the site of his (the Admiral's) house. Admiral Benbow was mortally wounded in action against the French fleet and died in Port Royal, Jamaica, in 1702.Continue Reading