Malmesbury claims to be England's oldest borough, with a charter given by Alfred the Great in 880AD. It certainly prospered under his grand-son, Athelstan, who chose Malmesbury as his capital when he became the first King of England, and the first to unite Wales and Scotland, albeit briefly, in 927.
Malmesbury continued to be a thriving town in mediaeval times, with a market, walls and its famous Abbey. After the dissolution, the town began its decline into a sleepy backwater, not helped by being fought over six times in the Civil War, which left its walls ruined. By-passed by the industrial revolution, it is regaining some of its former prosperity as the headquarters of Dyson. Much of the town is historic and a Conservation Area.
As well as the Abbey, Malmesbury has a fine mediaeval Town Cross. Constructed in 1490, this is one of the best preserved in England. Built to shelter market traders from the weather, it is an attractive octagonal shape, although the adjacent square is somewhat spoiled by being used as a car park...
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