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Malmesbury
Malmesbury
/ˈmɑːlmzbri/ or /ˈmɑːmzbri/ is a market town and civil parish in the southern Cotswolds
Cotswolds
in the county of Wiltshire, England. Technology company Dyson is headquartered in Malmesbury, which remains a market town and became prominent in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
as a centre for learning focused on and around Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey, the bulk of which forms a rare survival of the dissolution of the monasteries. Once the site of an Iron Age
Iron Age
fort, in the Anglo-Saxon period it became the site of a monastery famed for its learning and one of Alfred the Great's fortified burhs for defence against the Vikings. Æthelstan, the first king of England, was buried in Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
when he died in 939.

Contents

1 History

1.1 Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey 1.2 Battles 1.3 Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Commoners

2 Government 3 Geography 4 Demography 5 Economy

5.1 EKCO
EKCO
factory

6 Culture and community 7 Sport and leisure 8 Planning 9 Landmarks

9.1 Market Cross 9.2 Tower House 9.3 Bremilham
Bremilham
Church

10 Transport 11 Education 12 Twin towns – sister cities 13 Notable people 14 References

14.1 Notes

15 External links

History[edit] The hilltop contains several freshwater springs,[2] which helped early settlements. It was the site of an Iron Age
Iron Age
fort,[3] and in the Anglo-Saxon period it had a monastery famed as a centre of learning. The town is listed in the Burghal Hidage
Burghal Hidage
as one of Alfred the Great's defended burhs assessed at 1200 hides, its Iron Age
Iron Age
defences helping to provide protection against Viking attack. The town was described in the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
as a borough.[4] Alfred's grandson, Æthelstan, the first king of England, was buried in Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
in 939.[5] Until 1934 the west end of the town was administered as the separate parish of Westport St Mary[6] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey[edit]

Abbey Gardens along the River Avon

The interior of Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey

Main article: Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey The Abbey was founded in 675 by Maildubh, Mailduf or Maelduib, an Irishman.[7] After the death of Maidulph around 700, Aldhelm
Aldhelm
became the first abbot and built the first church organ in England, which was described as a "mighty instrument with innumerable tones, blown with bellows, and enclosed in a gilded case."[8] Having founded other churches in the area, including at Bradford on Avon, he died in 709 and was canonised.[8] Its architecture is listed in the highest category and it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[9] Across the River Avon's Sherston branch via the footpath by 18 Gloucester
Gloucester
Street (leading south-west) is a depression Daniels Well and a farm beyond it is named after this.[10] This derives from a monk called Daniel named after earlier Daniel of Winchester.[11] This former bishop, on losing his sight, lived at the abbey briefly until death in 745AD and was educated there. The later monk is said to have submerged himself in the cold water every day for decades to quell fiery passions. The Abbey was the site of an early attempt at human flight, when noted by historian William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
(1095–1143) in 1010, the monk Eilmer of Malmesbury
Malmesbury
flew a primitive hang glider from a tower. Eilmer flew over 180 metres before landing, breaking both legs.[8] Thus by the time of the Norman invasion in 1066, Malmesbury
Malmesbury
was one of the most significant towns in England. It is listed first (i.e., most important) in the Wiltshire
Wiltshire
section of the Domesday Book. King Henry I's chancellor, Roger of Salisbury, seized the monastery under his bishopric in 1118, and held it for 20 years. Renowned as a great builder, he rebuilt the wooden town walls wholly in stone rather than wood, constructing Malmesbury Castle
Malmesbury Castle
at the same time.[citation needed] By the Dark Ages, the north of the town was heavily developed as a religious centre, resulting in the construction of the third Abbey on the site, the 12th century Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey, which had a spire 7 metres (23 ft) taller than the 123 metres (404 ft) one of Salisbury
Salisbury
Cathedral.[8] In 1220 this resulted in the construction of the Abbey guest house, which is now The Old Bell hotel which claims to be the oldest hotel in England.[citation needed] The Abbey's spire collapsed in either the late 15th or early 16th century.[citation needed] Under his English Reformation, King Henry VIII, sold the substantial land, but retaining a minor choice portion, to a local clothier William Stumpe.[citation needed] The extant part of the Abbey is now the parish church, with the remains containing a parvise which still holds some fine examples of books from the former Abbey library.[citation needed] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
natives can be nicknamed Jackdaws, originating from the avian colony of these that inhabit the Abbey walls and roof.[12] Battles[edit] The community was the ancient frontier of two kingdoms, with Tetbury
Tetbury
5 miles (8.0 km) to the north in Mercia
Mercia
while Malmesbury
Malmesbury
was in the West Saxon Kingdom, resulting in centuries of animosity between the two towns.[13] The location and defensive position of Malmesbury
Malmesbury
on the latterly important Oxford to Bristol route made it a strategic military point. During the 12th century civil war between Stephen of England
England
and his cousin the Empress Matilda, the succession agreement between Stephen and Henry of Anjou (later Henry II) was reached after their armies faced each other across the impassable River Avon at Malmesbury
Malmesbury
in the winter of 1153, with Stephen losing by refusing battle. During the Civil War the town changed hands seven times, with the south face of Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
still today bearing pock-marks from cannon and gunshot. In 1646 Parliament ordered that the town walls be destroyed. As peace came to inland England, and the need to defend the developing coastal port towns became more important, Malmesbury, without its Abbey, lost its importance. As developing transport and trade routes passed it by, it regressed to a regional market town. Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Commoners[edit]

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At the Battle of Brunanburh
Battle of Brunanburh
in 937, King Athelstan
King Athelstan
of Wessex
Wessex
defeated an army of northern English and Scots and made a claim to become the first 'King of All England'. Helped by many men from Malmesbury, in gratitude he gave the townsfolk their freedom, along with 600 hides of land to the south of the town. The status of freemen of Malmesbury
Malmesbury
was passed down through the generations and remains to this day. It is likely, however, that the title of freeman, or commoner, was given to tradesmen and craftsmen coming into the town during the early Middle Ages, so the claim of direct lineage from the men who fought with King Athelstan to the present day commoners is unlikely, though possible. Since at least the 17th century, however, the right has been only handed down from father to son or son-in-law. There is a maximum of 280 commoners. The organisation is said to be the 'most exclusive club' in the world, as to enter it one has to be born to a freeman or marry the daughter of one. Since 2000, and with the possibility of falling numbers, women were admitted for the first time – the daughters of freemen. The organisation, The Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury, still owns the land to the south of the town, along with dozens of properties, pubs and shops within the town itself, providing affordable housing to townsfolk. Government[edit] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Town Council, formed as successor to the municipal borough, is made up of sixteen councillors, who elect annually a town mayor and deputy town mayor from their number. For elections to Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Council, Malmesbury
Malmesbury
forms one electoral division, returning a single unitary councillor. Gavin Grant, a Liberal Democrat, was elected in 2017.[14] Nationally at UK Government level in the House of Commons, Malmesbury is part of the North Wiltshire
Wiltshire
constituency, represented since 1997 by James Gray (Conservative Party). Malmesbury
Malmesbury
is twinned with Niebüll
Niebüll
in Germany, and Gien
Gien
in France.[15] Geography[edit]

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Malmesbury
Malmesbury
sits on a flat Cotswolds
Cotswolds
hilltop at the convergence of two rivers. From the west, the infant (Bristol) Avon flows from Sherston, and from the north west, a tributary either known as the Tetbury
Tetbury
Avon, River Avon ( Tetbury
Tetbury
branch) or, locally, The Ingleburn. They flow within 90 metres (300 ft) of each other but are separated by a narrow and high isthmus, just a few metres across, which forces the Bristol Avon south and the Tetbury
Tetbury
Avon east. This creates a rocky outcrop as a south-facing, gently sloping hilltop, until the two rivers meet on the southern edge of the town. With steep, and in places cliff-like sides, the town was described by Sir William Waller, as the best naturally-defended inland location he had seen. Demography[edit] In 2011 the population reached 5,380 living in 2,280 homes. The additional figures are given for The Abbey, the supplemental ecclesiastical parish added to that of St Paul when this existed. Figures from 1911 are for metropolitan borough and after 1961 for ward. For 1901 the area was split into three respective parishes, St Paul Within, St Paul Without and Abbey so three figures are given in the correct order as stated.[1]

Population of Malmesbury[16]

Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1881 1891

Population 1,491 + 80 1,609 + 137 1,976 + 169 2,169 +124 2,367 + 131 2,443 + 138 2,220 + 150 2,144 + 119

Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 2001 2011

Population 1,181 + 974 + 106 2,656 2,407 2,334 2,464 2,510 4,631 2,610 5,380

Economy[edit]

The main entrance to Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
(the South Porch) seen from the graveyard. This picture shows the full modern extent of the Abbey, to the right lie only ruins.

Traditionally a market town serving the rural area of north west Wiltshire, farming has been the main industry. Even today, the High Street has numerous independent shops and a regular weekly market. The Reformation of 1539 brought about a change in the economy of Malmesbury: having no income from the Abbey, the town turned to the wool spinning and weaving industry, having access to large quantities of wool and water. It then became a centre of the lace-making industry. But, what had made it successful and important as a religious and strategic defensive centre – water on three sides and steep cliffs – precluded easy access for the modern bulk transport methods of canals and railways. Hence the Kennet and Avon Canal
Kennet and Avon Canal
and the later Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
passed well to the south of the town; while local quarrying of cotswold stone provided often transient booms in employment, Malmesbury
Malmesbury
saw little expansion compared to, for example, Gloucester, by not being a commuter suburb or major production centre of the industrial revolution. The town's main employer today is Dyson, which has its headquarters on the edge of the town, and employs around 1,600 people. The HQ is mainly a design organisation, with manufacturing carried out in Malaysia. The town's economy profits from tourism, divided among Cotswold Hills retreats (ranging from B&Bs to golf/spa resorts), visits and tours of the abbey, nearby landmarks and festivals or by interest in the counter-modernism 1960s work of poet laureate, John Betjeman. Malmesbury
Malmesbury
has benefited from a 24.95% increase in property value in the last 10 years, according to Zoopla. Malmesbury
Malmesbury
had a nine-day wonder media event in January 1998, when two Tamworth pigs known as the Tamworth Two
Tamworth Two
escaped from the town's abattoir. They swam the Tetbury
Tetbury
branch of the River Avon, across a few fields and lived in an orchard for a week. The story made international headlines with tabloid newspapers and TV news stations fighting each other to sight and then capture the pigs. EKCO
EKCO
factory[edit] At the beginning of the World War II, the electronics company EKCO moved part of its operations from Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea
to Cowbridge House, 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) southeast of the town, to avoid the danger of bombing.[17] The company established a shadow factory to produce radar equipment, then a new technology. The factory continued production after the war, was taken over by Pye TMC and then Philips, and later became part of AT&T. The site was in use as offices until 2004 when the owners, Lucent Technologies, moved their operations to Swindon. Culture and community[edit] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
has a thriving carnival, which takes place in the last two weeks of August, with the finale procession through the town held on the first Saturday in September. It has grown in recent years to now include more than 30 events, ranging from music events to an attempt on the world record for the largest pillow fight. The world music festival Womad Charlton Park
Womad Charlton Park
has been held in Charlton Park near Malmesbury
Malmesbury
since 2007. Sport and leisure[edit] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
has a Non-League football
Non-League football
team Malmesbury Victoria F.C.
Malmesbury Victoria F.C.
who play at The Flying Monk Ground.[18] Malmesbury
Malmesbury
also have a swimming team, ' Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Marlins' of whom train on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at The Activity Zone leisure centre. Maurice Cleaver coaches the team. Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Cricket Club are an ECB Clubmark accredited sports club who play at The Wortheys sports ground with adult and junior teams playing in the Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Leagues.[19] Planning[edit] In 2011 Malmesbury
Malmesbury
was chosen by the Department for Communities and Local Government as a "front-runner" area to test Neighbourhood Planning powers introduced in the Localism Act 2011.[20] As part of the neighbourhood planning process in February 2012 a series of seminars and workshops involving residents and stakeholders were run in Malmesbury
Malmesbury
by The Prince's Foundation for Building Community.[21] In March 2012 issues of planning in Malmesbury
Malmesbury
were featured as part of the wider national debate about changes to the planning system and the balance of power between communities and developers.[22] Landmarks[edit]

Typical scene in central Malmesbury, showing older modernised property, but highly preserved from its original construction

What made Malmesbury
Malmesbury
successful as a town – water and excellent defences – led to both its current layout and the reason that it still retains over 400 listed buildings within its boundaries.[23] Although Roger of Salisbury
Roger of Salisbury
reconstructed the town after his accession to Bishop of Salisbury
Bishop of Salisbury
in 1102, the Saxon layout he rebuilt is still retained in the centre today. However, the geography also precluded easy development for mass transport and hence hindered industrial development, leaving the architecture and ancient buildings largely untouched. The result is a higher proportion of Grade I and Grade II buildings than in many other English towns. It also has a WW2 era pillbox, in a field near to David Hendry Cars at Filands. Market Cross[edit] Main article: Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Market Cross

Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Market Cross, c. 1490

In the centre of the town stands the market cross, built c. 1490, possibly using stone salvaged from the recently ruined part of the abbey. It was described by John Leland, writing in the 1540s, as a 'right costly piece of work', which was built to shelter the 'poore market folke' when 'rain cometh'. An elaborately carved octagonal structure, it is recognised as one of the best preserved of its kind in England. It still serves its purpose today, nicknamed 'The Birdcage', because of its appearance, it shelters market traders by day and as a meeting point at night.[24] Numbers 1 and 3 Market Cross are listed buildings, as is the former Abbey Brewery opposite.[25] Tower House[edit]

The Tower House

A large building of medieval origins, now a private home, Tower House stands at the end of Oxford Street. It contains a high-roofed main hall where it is said Henry VIII dined after hunting in nearby Bradon Forest. In the 1840s, a doctor living in the house, with a passion for astronomy, built a narrow tower protruding high from the roof. It dominates the skyline of the east of the town.[26] The tower now sports a flag pole and flies the union flag (as photo) and sometimes St. Aldhelm's flag.[27] Bremilham
Bremilham
Church[edit] Near the town lies Bremilham
Bremilham
Church, located on Cowage Farm, Foxley-cum-Bremilham, which measures just 4 m by 3.6 m. Its single pew has space for four people and there is standing room for six more. The church, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest church in use in Britain, holds an annual service to mark Rogationtide. The church can be found by heading west from Malmesbury along Foxley Road. Transport[edit] Malmesbury railway station
Malmesbury railway station
opened on 17 December 1877. The Malmesbury branch was built largely by the Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Railway Company, and was completed by the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
who absorbed the Malmesbury Railway Company in May 1877 when the latter could not raise sufficient funds to complete the line.[28] The branch split from the main London-Bristol line at Dauntsey, although a later connection with the northern GWR 'mainline' to the Severn Tunnel
Severn Tunnel
and South Wales was made at Little Somerford. Just short of its terminus, the line ran through a short tunnel: the only tunnel on the line between Malmesbury
Malmesbury
and Paddington. The station closed to passengers in 1951 (the last day was 8 September), and freight in 1962. The tracks were used for a period to test new diesel locomotives built by Swindon
Swindon
railway works, but lifted in the 1970s, and the site of the station is now an industrial estate. The nearest stations today, all served by Great Western Railway, are:

Chippenham
Chippenham
– on the line to Bristol Kemble – on the line to Stroud Swindon
Swindon
– on the line to London Paddington

The town's bus network is run by Coachstyle, who run a town service in addition to regular services to and from Swindon, Yate, Chippenham
Chippenham
and Cirencester. Education[edit]

Tablet describing charitable bequests on the wall of St John's almshouse[29]

Malmesbury
Malmesbury
has two primary schools, Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Church of England Primary School and St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School, and one secondary school, Malmesbury
Malmesbury
School. St. Joseph's is located in the centre of the town; the Secondary and the other Primary are both on the outskirts. Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Gien
Gien
in France Niebüll
Niebüll
in Germany

Notable people[edit] For a full list, see: Category:People from Malmesbury

King Athelstan
King Athelstan
– first king of all England Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury
– Benedictine monk best known for his early attempt at a gliding flight using wings Saint Aldhelm
Aldhelm
– Saxon scholar, bishop, poet, musician; patron saint of Wessex
Wessex
and the abbey's first abbot Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
– father of modern English philosophy William of Malmesbury
William of Malmesbury
– historian Hannah Twynnoy
Hannah Twynnoy
– barmaid; reputedly the first person killed by a tiger in Britain James Constable
James Constable
– footballer. James Scott Douglas – racing driver and the 6th Baronet Douglas

References[edit]

John Bowen. The Story of Malmesbury. 

Notes[edit]

^ a b 2011 Census ^ "Water Levels at Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Abbey". Max Woosnam. Retrieved 11 September 2014.  ^ "The Archaeology of Wiltshire"s Towns. An Extensive Urban Survey: MALMESBURY" (PDF). Wiltshire
Wiltshire
County Archaeology Service. August 2004. Retrieved 1 March 2011.  ^ Yorke, B. A. E. (2014). "Malmesbury". In Lapidge, Michael; Blair, John; Keynes, Simon; Scragg, Donald. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England
England
(2nd ed.). Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1.  ^ Foot, Sarah (2004). " Æthelstan
Æthelstan
[Athelstan] (893/4–939), king of England". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/833. Retrieved 26 September 2013.  (subscription or UK public library membership required) ^ http://visionofbritain.org.uk/place/12137 ^ Plummer's edition of Bede, Oxford 1896, 1969, mentions Bede's Maildufi urbs in the extensive notes, II 209 ^ a b c d "Malmesbury". BBC History Unit. Retrieved 7 February 2010.  ^ Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
– Grade I architectural listing – Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1269316)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 October 2013.  ^ Photograph of area at geograph.org.uk ^ R.B. Pugh, Elizabeth Crittall (editors) (1956). "House of Benedictine monks: Abbey of Malmesbury". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 2 October 2013. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ eilmer.co.uk Local newsletters as per the other tributes to the birds in the town. ^ "Malmesbury". Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Town Council. Retrieved 7 February 2010.  ^ " Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Unitary council on Thursday 4 May 2017". Wiltshire Council. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2017.  ^ " Malmesbury
Malmesbury
and District Twinning Association Newsletter" (PDF). April 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ^ Population from 1801 until 1961 from Vision of Britain Retrieved 2 October 2013. ^ Browning, B (2005). EKCO's of Cowbridge: House and War Factory. Cowbridge Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9551842-0-8. ^ "Uhlsport Hellenic Football League Club Details Malmesbury Victoria". Hellenicleague.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2012.  ^ Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Cricket Club ^ More communities chosen to try out new planning powers http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1975278 ^ COMING UP TO OUR 70TH DCLG-FUNDED SESSION! http://www.princes-foundation.org/content/coming-our-70th-dclg-funded-session ^ Can David Cameron save England’s oldest town? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/9133657/Can-David-Cameron-save-Englands-oldest-town.html ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1004681)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 June 2012.  For instance one is the town defences, search for 399 others on English Heritage website. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1269291)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 June 2012.  ^ "Top 15 unusual buildings for sale". Daily Telegraph.  ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1269271)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 June 2012.  ^ St Aldhelm's flag. ^ Fenton M.(1990), The Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Branch Wild Swan Publications Ltd ISBN 0-906867-88-6 ^ The inscription reads: Memorand that whereas King Athelstan
King Athelstan
did give unto the Free School within this borough of Malmesbury
Malmesbury
ten pounds and to the poor people my almshouse at St John's, ten pounds to be paid yearly by the Aldermen and [[Burgess (title)Burgess]]es of the same borough for ever. That now Michael Wickes Esquire, late of this said borough and now citizen of London hath augmented and added to the aforesaid gift, viz. to the said Free School ten pounds and to the said almshouse, ten pounds only be paid yearly at St. John's aforesaid within this said borough and by his trustees for ever, and hath also given to the minister of this town for the time being 20s. only by the year for life to preach a sermon yearly on the 19th day of July and to his said trustees 20s. by the year beginning on the 25th day of August. Anno Domini 1694.

External links[edit]

Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Town Council Aerial view of Malmesbury, 1930 – from the English Heritage "Britain from Above" archive Historic Malmesbury
Malmesbury
photos at BBC Wiltshire Malmesbury
Malmesbury
at Curlie (based on DMOZ) Official site of The Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury Crowley, D. A. et al, eds. (1991). "A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14: Malmesbury
Malmesbury
hundred". Victoria County History. British History Online. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Town Guide – produced in association with Malmesbury
Malmesbury
Town Council

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Wiltshire
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Amesbury Bradford on Avon Calne Chippenham Corsham Cricklade Devizes Highworth Larkhill Ludgershall Malmesbury Marlborough Melksham Mere Royal Wootton Bassett Salisbury Swindon Tidworth Trowbridge Warminster Westbury Wilton See also: List of civil parishes in Wiltshire

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