Malmesbury Abbey

Malmesbury Abbey
The main entrance (the South Porch) seen from the graveyard. This picture shows the modern extent of the Abbey

Malmesbury Abbey, at Malmesbury in Wiltshire, England, was founded as a Benedictine monastery around 676 by the scholar-poet Aldhelm, a nephew of King Ine of Wessex. In 941 AD, King Athelstan was buried in the Abbey. By the 11th century it contained the second largest library in Europe and was considered one of the leading European seats of learning. It was one of the few English houses with a continual history from the 7th century through to the Dissolution of the Monasteries.[1] It is dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The 12th-century historian William of Malmesbury was of the community.

The Abbey was substantially completed by 1180. The 431 feet (131 m) tall spire, and the tower it was built upon, collapsed in a storm around 1500 destroying much of the church, including two thirds of the nave and the transept. The west tower fell around 1550, demolishing the three westernmost bays of the nave. As a result of these two collapses, less than half of the original building stands today.

An early 20th century engraving of King Athelstan's tomb

The Abbey, which owned 23,000 acres (93 km2) in the twenty parishes that constituted Malmesbury Hundred, was closed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII and was sold, with all its lands, to William Stumpe, a rich merchant. He returned the abbey church to the town for continuing use as a parish church, and filled the abbey buildings with twenty looms for his cloth-weaving enterprise.[2] Today Malmesbury Abbey is in full use as the parish church of Malmesbury, in the Diocese of Bristol. The remains still contain a fine parvise which holds some examples of books from the Abbey library. The Anglo-Saxon charters of Malmesbury, though extended by forgeries and improvements executed in the abbey's scriptorium, provide source material today for the history of Wessex and the West Saxon church from the seventh century.

During the English Civil War, Malmesbury is said to have changed hands as many as seven times, and the abbey was fiercely fought over. Hundreds of pock-marks left by bullets and shot can still be seen on the south, west and east sides of Malmesbury Abbey walls. The Abbey was the site of an early attempt at human flight when, in 1010, the monk Eilmer of Malmesbury flew a primitive hang glider from a tower. Eilmer flew over 200 yards (200 m) before landing, breaking both legs. He later remarked that the only reason he did not fly further was the lack of a tail on his glider.

Today much of the Abbey survives. The existing third of the nave has been restored as an active place of worship and there are plans to build a visitor centre on the site. No charge is made for visitors to view the interior of the abbey. Supposedly the first person to be killed by a tiger in England, Hannah Twynnoy, is buried in the churchyard. She was an early 18th century barmaid working in a local public house, killed on October 23, 1703.


Other burials


The Abbey in the 14th century. Only the brightened area is now used, following collapses of the spire and West Tower
The fine parvise over the south porch
Interior of the Abbey, showing the unusual watching-loft projecting above the nave.
The Abbey interior. The ruined area lies beyond the blank wall rising above the altar


  1. ^ S.E. Kelly, editor, 2005.Charters of Malmesbury Abbey In series Anglo-Saxon Charters (Oxford University Press)
  2. ^ D. A. Crowley, ed. Victoria History of Wiltshire XIV: Malmesbury Hundred, (Oxford) 1991.


  • Smith, M Q: The Sculptures of the South Porch of Malmesbury Abbey: A Short Guide, 1975

External links

Coordinates: 51°35′05″N 2°05′54″W / 51.5847°N 2.0984°W / 51.5847; -2.0984

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • Malmesbury Castle — Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England …   Wikipedia

  • Abbey House Gardens — is a country house garden in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England, covering 5 acres (20,200 m²). Privately owned, the gardens but not the house itself is open to the public seven days a week from late March until late October. It is one of the main… …   Wikipedia

  • Malmesbury (disambiguation) — Malmesbury is a market town in Wiltshire, England Malmesbury or Malmsbury may also refer to: Placenames Malmesbury, Western Cape, a spa town in South Africa Malmsbury, Victoria, a town in Australia Other Malmesbury Abbey, Benedictine abbey in… …   Wikipedia

  • Malmesbury — For other uses, see Malmesbury (disambiguation). Coordinates: 51°35′02″N 2°05′56″W / 51.5840°N 2.0988°W / 51.5840; 2.0988 …   Wikipedia

  • Malmesbury, Wiltshire — infobox UK place country = England official name= Malmesbury shire district= North Wiltshire shire county = Wiltshire region= South West England population=4631 (2001 census) os grid reference=ST94058577 longitude= 2.0988 latitude= 51.5840 dial… …   Wikipedia

  • Malmesbury — 51° 35′ 02″ N 2° 05′ 56″ W / 51.584, 2.0988 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Malmesbury — • Town in Wiltshire, England, ninety five miles west of London, formerly the seat of a mitred parliamentary abbey of Benedictine monks Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Malmesbury     Malmesbury …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Malmesbury — /mahmz ber ee, beuh ree/, n. William of. See William of Malmesbury. * * * ▪ England, United Kingdom  town (“parish”), North Wiltshire district, administrative and historic county of Wiltshire, England. It is situated on a ridge between the River… …   Universalium

  • Eilmer of Malmesbury — Stained glass window showing Eilmer, installed in Malmesbury Abbey in 1920 Eilmer of Malmesbury (also known as Oliver due to a scribe s miscopying, or Elmer) was an 11th century English Benedictine monk best known for his early attempt at a… …   Wikipedia

  • Abbaye de Malmesbury — L’entrée principale (le porche sud) vue depuis le cimetière. L’image montre l’extension moderne de l’abbaye Présentation Nom local Malmesbury.abbey Culte …   Wikipédia en Français

Поделиться ссылкой на выделенное

Прямая ссылка:
Нажмите правой клавишей мыши и выберите «Копировать ссылку»