A day out in Malmesbury: Medieval architecture and Cotswold charm

Quaint Cotswold cottages in Malmesbury

Located in the South Cotswolds in the county of Wiltshire, Malmesbury enchants with its striking medieval architecture, its picturesque town houses and cottages, its charming river and its stunning views of the Cotswold countryside. This market town is one of the entrance points to the arresting Cotswold region and one of the top places to visit in the Cotswolds.

Marvel at the striking architecture

Malmesbury is one of the oldest boroughs in England and boasts striking medieval architecture. The remarkable 12th century abbey is one of the key landmarks. Only the nave of the Norman abbey remains, the great spire and the tower both fell in the 15th and 16th centuries respectively. Nevertheless, the abbey is impressive.

The medieval Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey

The entrance to the abbey reveals fine stonework illustrating the story of Christianity. Inside the abbey, the distinctive arches and the honey-combed ceiling are a delight to admire. Don’t forget to visit this landmark from all angles and explore the Cloister Gardens at the back of the abbey.

Nearby, the Abbey House Gardens offer beautiful historic gardens and woodland straddling the River Avon. Please note that there is an entrance fee to the gardens. Next to the abbey, the Old Bell Hotel is said to be the oldest hotel in the country. Located along Gloucester Street, this town house dates back to the 13th century and is filled with Cotswold charm.

Medieval architecture of the Malmesbury Market Cross
Market Cross

Another key landmark in Malmesbury is the Market Cross. Standing proudly at the top of the high street, this remarkable sight was built in 1490 and evokes a crown. Located in the centre of a square, the cross is still a social venue for markets and events today.

Discover picturesque streets and riverside paths

The high street in Malmesbury is the town’s hub and features delightful shops, cafés, pubs and town houses built in the typical Cotswold stone. The stunning golden Cotswold stone adorns many of the city sights and buildings, charming city dwellers and visitors alike.

Quaint and colourful cottages in Malmesbury
Quaint cottages along Gloucester Street

The best way to discover Malmesbury is to get lost in its charming streets and admire the many quaint cottages typical of the Cotswolds. In the medieval streets of High Street, St John’s Court, St John’s Street, Silver Street, Gloucester Street, Ingram Street and Cross Hays Lane, you’ll find a plethora of picturesque cottages and town houses.

Views of Malmesbury along the River Avon in the park known as St Aldhelm’s Mead
Malmesbury from St Aldhelm’s Mead

Malmesbury is bordered by the enchanting River Avon. From the town centre, you can easily explore the peaceful riverside paths and enjoy gorgeous views of Malmesbury and the surrounding countryside. If you’re after a longer river walk, the Malmesbury and River Avon walk explores several sections of the meandering River Avon in the charming town of Malmesbury itself, on the outskirts of the town and in the heart of the gorgeous Cotswold countryside. Find the Malmesbury & River Avon walk guide!

Explore further: Top Cotswold villages

The South Cotswolds feature a plethora of picturesque villages and charming cottages, and offer the ideal escape to British quintessence. Perfect for a day trip or a weekend away, the picture-perfect villages of the South Cotswolds are a delight to explore. From Castle Combe to Badminton and Tetbury, check out these picturesque villages in the South Cotswolds.

Quaint Cotswold cottages painted yellow in Badminton
Quaint cottages in Badminton

Plan your escape

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love the Escape travel guide packed full of ideas to explore Bath, Bristol, the Cotswolds and beyond. To receive this exclusive guide as well as inspirations every month to explore and plan your escape, enter your email address and subscribe to the Escape Monthly newsletter.


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References: Discover Malmesbury, Malmesbury Abbey, Malmesbury Town Council

Featured image: Picturesque Cotswold cottages on High Street

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