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Malmesbury is a small market town on a hill on the banks of the River Avon in the county of Wiltshire and on the southern edge of the Cotswolds region.
Malmesbury Abbey is the main monument in the town, dating from the Norman era and dominating the skyline of the town. Although the spire and about half of the oiginal building collapsed in a 16th century storm, and a significant part of the abbey is in ruins, a substantial (and impressively large) part remains intact. The main architectural highlight of Malmesbury Abey is the impressive and ornate carving around the entrance doorway.
The most popular tale from the Abbey history recounts how an optimistic monk called Eilmer made wings for himself and flew from the abbey walls - only to crash to the ground shortly afterwards, famously becoming one of the world's first hang-gliders.
As impressive as the abbey itself, the adjacent gardens of Malmesbury Abbey cover almost five acres and feature a very wide range of garden types and planting schemes - the extensive planting of a wide number of rose varieties is among the highlights - running down to a branch of the River Avon.
Another notable highlight is the 15th century Market Cross, an elaborate and substantial structure provided to give shelter to the market traders. While in market square take a look at some of the buildings that line the edges of the square, many of which preserve interesting historical details.
With many of the buildings in Malmesbury dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, the town centre also has a good selection of speciality shops, cafes and pubs.
Map of Malmesbury and places to visit
Malmesbury places to visit
See more places nearby in the Wiltshire guide