In 2003 I toured through parts of the UK in search for airplanes, but found time and opportunity to deviate a little from my self-appointed target. By chance I passed thru Malmesbury and saw the signs for the abbey. On impulse I decided to visit this historic city.

This is probably the "main street", it leads to the Abbey.

I found the shops typical for an English village.
Another thing that struck me: if you look for a grocery store, you probably look in vain: they lost the competition with Tesco's. I was looking for typical English marmalade and mustard, but found no such store here. Only later I passed a Tesco's and found a wide selection there. Everybody goes to Tesco's, a US-type (huge !) supermarket.

The exterior may lead you to believe to have stumbled on a ruin, but the Abbey is in full use as a Church.
It was founded in the 7th Century as a Benedectine Monastery by Aldhelm, a nephew of King Ina of Wessex.
The present building is now about a third of its original size and it was consecrated in 1180 AD.

Since 640 AD there have been several churches built on this Abbey site by the Benedictine monks.
Malmesbury Abbey was a center of pilgrimage because it is the burial place of St.Aldhelm and King Athelstan and because it contained sacred relics which were important in Medieval pilgrimages.
A place of healing and learning, it was home to the monk historian, William of Malmesbury.

King Athelstan's tomb.... He is considered to be the first King of All England, he commissioned a translation of the Bible into English and gave gifts to Malmesbury.


The vaulted nave roof is very impressive, you will look upward and admire the early building skills of those master builders, so many centuries ago. The roof was raised in the 14th century.
There is no admission charge to this Abbey, but the church is only supported by the people who worship there and donations by visitors.


The roads that lead to the abbey provide many a nice view with lovely houses.
The Abbey has continued to be the focus of Malmesbury community life for 1200 years or more..
For the last 450 years it has been the parish church for the town.


A nice ornament to have in your garden !
The Abbey gardens are definitely worthy of a visit, though I must admit I was taken aback by the admission price : 5 pounds !
I realize, from personal experience, that a garden requires a lot of maintenance, but still.... I had only time to look around in the flower garden, 30-40 minutes, but it also has a path down to a lovely stream, river Avon.


They certainly did a magnificent job with this garden and all that care must have continued for a long time to get it like this.
When I left I had no regrets that I paid up those 5 pounds.

Malmesbury, west of Swindon, in Wiltshire.

Another detour on impulse !
This time there was a sign for Hawkesbury historical village.
I could not find the historical village, the village I saw did not look historical to warrant such a label, but I did find a lovely isolated parish church by following a steep road down a wooded valley. I came to a few houses and a lovely church and realized why I liked England so much: history can be found around the corner....

It could be described as a hamlet, perhaps this was the historic village (no roadsigns to that effect). It seemed deserted, except for 2 men working on some restoration in the church and everything was quiet and at peace. I could easily think myself a few centuries in the past.

Notice the masonry on the left and over the door, no doubt this is original and dates back to when it was built or needed extensive rebuilding in ancient days.

I have never left England without a feeling of leaving too soon and I always remind myself to return the next year. This year was no different !