Malmesbury Abbey was founded in 676AD as a Benedictine monastery by Aldhelm,
a nephew of King Ine of Wessex. The present building was consecrated in about 1180AD.
After the Dissolution of 1539, the abbey was sold to a local wealthy clothier who subsequently
gave the nave back to the town to serve as a parish church, a function that it still performs today.
The abbey is now about a third of its original size, the 431ft spire having fallen in 1500 and the
West Tower in 1660. The abbey contains the tomb of King Athelstan - grandson of Alfred the
Great - considered to be the first true King of all England who was buried here in 939AD.