Malmesbury (Mamzbury), an old-world market-town of Wiltshire, on a bold eminence between two head-streams of the Avon, 26 miles by rail NNE. of Bath and 17 WNAV. of Swindon. It owes its name to Maildulf, an Irish missionary.
Aldhelm, his scholar, became about 673 first abbot of the famous abbey here, in which Athelstan was buried, and of which William of Malmesbury (c. 1095-1143) was librarian and precentor. To his time belong the building of a short-lived castle, and the rebuilding (also by Bishop Roger of Salisbury) of the abbey church, which, Transition Norman in style, and cruciform in plan, with a central spire, was 350 feet long. Little more than the nave - now the parish church - remains; but this is a most interesting fragment, its finest feature the south porch. At the Dissolution (1539) the mitred Benedictine abbey became a cloth-factory. A beautiful market-cross (temp. Henry VII.) is also noteworthy. Hobbes was a native. Malmesbury returned two members till 1832, and then one till 1885. It was incorporated in 1886. Pop. 2864. See works by Moffatt (1805), Sir T. Phillipps (1831), J. E. Jackson (1863), W. de Gray Birch (1874), and Brewer and Martin (2 vols. 1879-81).