' Malmesbury Abbey
THE Town of Malmesbury is, no doubt, a place of very great antiquity. According to one old chronicle there was a kind of fortress or stronghold here, built by a British King as early as 596 years before Christ, and the place, as well as the river which supplied it, was called Bladon.
With the Anglo-Saxons the ancient name of Bladon disappeared, and the town was called Ingel-burne. Being situated on the northern boundary of the Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, it gradually became a place of some importance, and a Missionary named Maldulph came hither from Ireland for the purpose of converting the inhabitants of Ingelburne to Christianity. From Maldulph'sbury (or Maldulph's town), the present name of Malmesbury is supposed to have been derived.
Maldulph, having obtained leave to reside under shelter of the fortress of Ingelburne, began to instruct the youths of the place, who grew up under their teacher into a sort of College, and began, in course of time, to adopt certain rules of discipline. Some land near the fortress was subsequently given them by Eleutherius, Bishop of Wessex, and this was the first step towards the foundation of the once famous Abbey of Malmesbury.
This was about A.D. 680. Having obtained a site for the Monastery, other land was soon acquired for its endowment. Newnton and Somerford Keynes were first given by the King of Mercia. Ethelwulf (the father of King Alfred) enlarged its possessions, and his great grandson, King Athelstan, became a great benefactor both to the Town and Monastery. He enriched the monks with lands at Norton, Somerford, and elsewhere, and dying at Gloucester, A.D. 941, was buried in the Abbey Church, as were also his two nephews, who had previously been slain in a conflict with the Danes.
The early part of the reign of King Edwy was by no means favourable to the monastic orders. The monks of Malmesbury were expelled their monastery and secular clergy admitted to fill their place. But the monks having enshrined the body of Aldhelm, the successor of Maldulph, who had 250 years before been their Abbot, the tide of royal favour became at once reversed, and the king, pleased at this mark of respect for his relative, not only restored the monks, but gave them the Manor of Brokenborough ; the largest gift of land they had ever yet received.
King Edgar, in the year 974, restored to the monastery all liberties and lands that had been taken from it, and appointed an Abbot named AElfrick, who either erected or rebuilt a Monastic Church, dedicated to S. Mary.
Some 70 years later, Herman, the Chaplain of King-Edward the Confessor, was made Bishop of Wiltshire. He proposed, with the consent of the King, to unite the Abbey of Malmesbury with the Bishopric, but his plan was defeated by the monks. He is said to have built a Bell Tower to the Abbey Church, about the year 1060.
From the general survey, known as Domesday Book made in 1081 we learn that the town of Malmesbury then belonged to the Crown, whilst the Abbot held merely the precincts of the Monastery. His possessions elsewhere in Wiltshire were 282 hides of land, in Gloucestershire 5 hides, and in Warwickshire 3 hides ; valued altogether at £138 los. od. per annum of the money of that period, and representing many thou sands of pounds of the present day.
William the Conqueror, once settled on the English throne, became a benefactor to the monks of Malmes bury. He deposited in the Abbey many valuable relics.... '
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