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The Towns Of The Cotswolds


The Town

Malmesbury Abbey Malmesbury - "Queen of hilltop towns" is the description given by the Town Council. The town of Malmesbury is reputed to be the oldest borough in England & received its charter in AD880 from King Alfred the Great, although there is earlier recorded evidence noted by the Venerable Bede when the town was called Maeldulphi Urbs.

The hilltop town is surrounded by two forks of the River Avon & in conjunction with the steep slopes creates a natural defence which was enhanced by great walls to fortify the town & which remains can still be seen. The town is dominated by the remains of the great 7th century Benedictine Monastery- the jewel in the crown- built by Aldhelm a nephew of King Ina of Wessex.

At the Dissolution in 1539, theAbbey was sold to a William Stumpe who promptly returned the nave to the town's people to be used as the parish church replacing the church of St Paul which had fallen into decay. The Abbey has seen many important visitors & the building is the final resting place of King Althelstan who's tomb is situated in the north aisle.

Market Cross Like most Cotswold towns, Malmesbury was a wealthy wool town & some of the weavers cottages in the High Street & the 18th century mills at St Johns Bridge can still be seen.
The town is still bustling & vibrant & the High Street is home to a good selection of small, independent shops but the major retail chains are rare with only two or three well known names in the main street.

Manufacturing has played a part in the wealth of the town during the 20th century with electrical appliances being made at the old EKCO plant on the outskirts. The site became part of Lucent Technologies who closed the site in 2002. James Dyson took over the former Linolite factory to create a workforce of around 1800 to manufacture the vacuum cleaner & washing machines but a scale down in the production of the products in the UK resulted in a loss of about 800 jobs to Malaysia during 2002.

The town has been designated an "Outstanding Conservation Area" & besides the Abbey has many buildings of architectural interest still standing. The Old Bell Hotel next to the Abbey was once a guest house for the Abbey , on the opposite side of the Abbey is the Abbey House & Abbey House Gardens & in the town centre the 500 year old market cross, said my many to be one of the finest in the country. A tour of the town will give a greater insight to the age & developement of the town & a visit to Athelstan Museum will give a brief look into the history of the town & the surrounding area.

Malmesbury has a history of "firsts", King Athelstan was the first King of England, the monk Eilmer became the first aeronaut when he flew a short distance from the top of the Abbey & in more recent times the inventor James Dyson developed & manufactured the first cyclone vacuum cleaner.


Getting Here

The town is situated near junction 17 of the M4 motorways & just 16 miles from Swindon, 11 miles from Chippenham, 25 miles from Gloucester & 95 miles from London. The nearest rail station is at Kemble, 8 miles away, with main line links to London & Birmingham or Chippenham with links to the south west & Bristol

Bus services connecting to Malmesbury are:


There are two car parks. The Cross Hayes with parking charge from 25p for 1 hour & the Station Yard which is a free long stay.


Local Amenities


  • The Borough Arms
  • Duke of York
  • Smoking Dog


  • Three Cups Inn
  • Rose & Crown
  • The Whole Hog


Restaurants & Take Aways

  • English Food
  • Chinese Food
  • Thai Food
  • Indian Food
  • Take Aways