Malmesbury is a truly wonderful place to visit for the day or for a short break. Our stewards count approximately 65,000 visitors through the Abbey’s Norman porch each year.
The Abbey is open to visitors and for private prayer from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Monday – Saturday. At the moment, Sunday and Wednesday services are gradually restarting. Please see our Services page for more information and how to book a seat. Morning prayer (Monday – Friday) are conducted online, at the moment.
If you’re planning to visit, please wear a mask if you can, use the sanitising stations, follow the one way system and maintain social distancing. Thanks so much for helping us keep people safe by following these guidelines.
In more normal times, when not under coronavirus restrictions, we try to keep the Abbey open every single day but, even then, we do close after Christmas and New Year’s Day and also for occasional services, conferences, filming, organ tuning or maintenance. Please check this site for closure details but do contact us if you would like to be absolutely sure that we are open on the day you plan to visit. We never mind a phone call or an e-mail.
In due course, we hope to return to the pattern whereby, each day, life at the Abbey begins with Morning Prayer in St Aldhelm’s Chapel at 9 am (Holy Communion on a Sunday). Please visit our Worship page if you would like to join us for worship; you are really very welcome.
As well as exploring the beautiful 12th century Abbey, the grounds, the Abbey Café and our bookshop, you can also spend time at Abbey House Gardens, the Athelstan Museum and explore the numerous shops, restaurants and pubs in town. Westonbirt Aboretum and Highgrove are also only a very short drive away.
Admission is free to Malmesbury Abbey, but your visit isn’t without cost – it costs us £700 each day to keep the Abbey open. Like all abbeys and cathedrals across the UK, Malmesbury Abbey faces restoration and utility costs that rise significantly every year. But we are committed to giving free access to our 65,000 visitors each year and would ask that you consider giving £5-£10 towards the cost of our work here.
We encourage you to purchase the excellent Abbey Guide book for £2 and we’d also like to point you in the direction of the Abbey Café and Bookshop. Your purchases and generosity help keep this beautiful abbey open and accessible for all.
There is a collection box as you leave the Abbey; please use a Gift Aid envelope if appropriate.
Since the re-emergence of Christianity to this region in the 6th century, Malmesbury has long been a place at the forefront of history. Thought to be the first capital of England, it was home to the first saint of Wessex (St Aldhelm), the first king of England (King Athelstan the Glorious), the first man to fly (Brother Eilmer), the father of modern English history (William of Malmesbury), and the father of English philosophy (Thomas Hobbes).
The Abbey was built in the 12th century and is home to King Athelstan’s tomb, the crest of Henry VII, a specially illuminated 15th century Bible, a breathtaking Norman stone porch which illustrates the Christian salvation history and the grave of Hannah Twinnoy, who was killed by a tiger, locally, in 1703. You can read a little more on the History page of this website.
During the week, except for when there are special services taking place in the abbey, morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon tea is available from the Abbey Café. We regret we don’t open the Café on Sundays and sadly, in these covid times, unable to serve our normal free tea & coffee (and sometimes cake!) after our main Sunday services. You are very welcome to join us for a drink and a chat.
The Abbey also has a bookshop selling a wide range of gifts as well as books and CDs, including a wealth of literature relating to the history and geography of Malmesbury, the Abbey, and those linked with the town and the Abbey. We have a wide range of bibles in various translations as well as study guides, bible reading notes and a wide variety of Christian literature. Staff and stewards are on hand to offer advice and we also offer a mail order service offering both secular and religious books, CDs and DVDs.
All profits from both the bookshop go to the work and upkeep of the Abbey.
Travelling by Car
From the south-west or south-east, travel along the M4 and head north at Junction 17 on the A429 for five miles.
From the north-west or north, travel south along the M5 to junction 11a. Follow signs to Cirencester and then a further 10 miles south to Malmesbury along the A429.
On arriving in Malmesbury, follow signs to the Long Stay car park.
From the long stay car park you will see the Abbey quite clearly. Walk across Mill Lane Bridge, climb the Abbey Steps (63 of them) and walk past the semi-derelict East Wall of the Abbey into the 15th Century Market Cross area. There you will see the entrance to the Abbey grounds by the side of the Rajah Indian Restaurant through the Tolsey Gate.
(To avoid Abbey Steps you can park in the Town Centre short stay car park but it is restricted to 2 hours maximum stay, Monday to Saturday though it is free on a Sunday.)
A tourist map of Malmesbury is available on the Malmesbury Town Council website.