If you’re looking for the perfect middle ground of town, country and city life – Malmesbury hits the spot. A pretty market town, surrounded by prime Cotswolds countryside and with easy access to Bath and Bristol, it really does have it all. Besides its enviable location, Malmesbury has history in spades – sat atop a perfectly flat hill encircled by the River Avon, Malmesbury is said to be the oldest continually inhabited town in England.
‘Malmesbury is a stunning market town. The wonderful 12thcentury Malmesbury Abbey and the beautifulAbbey House Gardens are a real draw for visitors, while the charming streets, thriving independent businesses and location on the river Avon make it a gorgeous place to live’. Francesca Sharvell.
The Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, which dates back to 1220, claims to be the oldest hotel in England (see ‘Stay’). The town is also where Dyson has its headquarters.
The hill-top town offers handsome townhouses, while venture out into the surrounding countryside for large, grand estates.
At the centre of town is an elaborately engraved 15th-century market cross which is one of the best preserved of its kind in the country, reminding shoppers of the town’s commerce past – present-day offerings include great antiques at Rust and Rot; cosy cashmere and cool linen womenswear at Sassy and Boo; a quirky, hand-picked selection of scarves, jewellery, gifts and home accessories at French Grey and botanical beauties courtesy of Persephone Violet.
Drop into The Smoking Dog when you need sustaining for scrubbed oak tables, roaring fires and honest pub grub. The Whole Hog rubs shoulders with the historic market cross in the centre of town, offering piggy delights such as sausages, pies and burgers – as well as great fish and pasta dishes.
If you’re looking for something more refined, Whately Manor Hotel and Spa has a Michelin Star restaurant (see ‘Stay’) serving up Modern British cuisine that avoids being overly fussy for fussy’s sake; focussing on locally sourced produce instead.
The Grade 1 listed Old Bell Hotel, claiming to be England’s oldest hotel, certainly offers up atmosphere and character in spades. Centrally located, the gorgeous rooms with exposed stone walls, four-poster beds and tastefully sourced antiques all add to the charm.
Pic credit: The Old Bell Hotel
Whately Manor Hotel and Spa is a handsome country pile – whether you’re looking to indulge in the Michelin-starred restaurant; sleep in the cosseting suites or revive in the decadent spa – you’re in for a treat.
Malmesbury is a great base from which to explore all that the Cotswolds has to offer – from Westonbirt Arboretum for stunning walks and fun children’s trails to the Cotswold Water Park – an area of 40 square miles, consisting of 150 lakes where visitors can fish, sail, shoot, cycle, birdwatch or simply drink in the watery landscape with a coffee and a slice of cake at one of the park’s eateries.
Historic houses are plentiful in Malmesbury and the surrounding countryside – with Lacock Abbey, Chavenage House, Charlton Park and Malmesbury Abbey itself to choose from. Immerse yourself in history and architecture from across the centuries in these great, English houses.
Malmsbury offers a good selection of schools (Malmesbury Church of England Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School, Malmesbury Secondary School), all the big town amenities you need, plus Bath and Bristol in easy reach for when you need a shot of city life.