Malmesbury Abbey


Malmesbury Abbey is a blend of ruin and living church, with a somewhat turbulent history. Notable features include the Norman doorway decorated with biblical figures, the Romanesque Apostle carvings and a four-volume illuminated bible dating from 1407. A window at the western end of the church depicts Elmer the Flying Monk, who in 1010 strapped on wings and jumped from the tower. Although he broke both legs during this leap of faith, he survived and became a local hero.

The abbey began life as a 7th-century monastery, which was later replaced by a Norman church. By the mid-15th century the building had been embellished with a spire and twin towers, but in 1479 a storm toppled one tower and the spire, destroying the eastern end of the church. The west tower followed suit in 1662, destroying much of the nave. The present-day church is about a third of its original size, and is flanked by ruins at either end.

The abbey's 2-hectare, colourful gardens are well worth a visit too.

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