Abbey House is a late Tudor house situated in the heart of Malmesbury, tucked away behind the Market Cross and adjacent to the Abbey. It overlooks the River Avon to the north and surrounding the house are the wonderful gardens and grounds which create a remarkable and private setting. The house is Grade I listed and predominantly built of stone under render with a stone slate cross-gable roof. The principle elevation has gables with roll top coping and ball finials to the outer wings. The house is roughly a horseshoe shape with a more modern extension extending to the eastern side. Internally the house provides intriguing accommodation together with features one would expect of a property of such age. These include stone mullion windows, exposed stonework, impressive fireplaces, fine solid wood doors and a wonderful oak main staircase with feature carved newels. There is also a 16th Century solid oak winder staircase.
The house is steeped in history offering complete individuality, character and charm as well as generous accommodation. All of the principal rooms enjoy the spectacle of the gardens.
The rooms are laid out to include a splendid grand reception hall off which rises the principle staircase. Adjacent is the library (at one time two rooms), a splendid entertaining room with an array of finely carved bookshelves. From here a door leads into a side porch which at one time was used as the main entrance. On the opposite side of the reception hall is the drawing room and of particular historical note is the over mantel with strapwork and caryatids above which is the coat of arms of the Ivy family.
Close by is the generous kitchen/breakfast room which includes a large feature stone fireplace (currently not in use), believed to date back to pre-1260 and part re-built. Doorways from the kitchen lead to the studio which includes a study and domestic office space. Onwards from the studio and extending off the eastern side of the house is the Belvedere, which is used in connection with garden visitors where refreshments are served from a second kitchen. This wonderful light and airy space enjoys bi-folding doors opening up to a large raised decked terrace with a glass balustrade. It is also used for wedding receptions, being a short stroll from the Abbey, and indeed the whole property can be used in connection with wedding parties.
Lower Ground Floor
On the lower ground floor of Abbey House is the oldest room in the house known as the Abbots Hall, which is believed to have been built by Abbott William Colerne between 1260-1296 and is half the size of what would have been the original ‘Great Hall’. It features springs of an early English rib vault and octagonal columns. The lower ground floor also includes a cloakroom area with two WC’s, a games room, wine store and pantry with cold slabs.
The first floor provides five bedrooms, all of which are a good size, in fact the bedroom in the west wing was in fact three rooms which have been opened up to form one large room. There is a family bathroom and further bathroom which has not been completed. A living room/kitchen creates the opportunity of a self contained suite. An independent staircase leads to a private roof terrace.
On the second floor is what the current owners refer to as the ‘bridal suite’ for wedding parties. It includes two bedrooms, one of which is known as the ‘bridal’ bedroom, kitchenette and shower room. The winder staircase leads to four further double bedrooms with a connecting door from one to the ‘bridal suite’, and three additional attic rooms are accessed from a further independent staircase.
GARDENS AND GROUNDS
Complementing the house is a magnificent, Michelin star English garden, extending to about 3.8 acres (excluding the Cloister Garden), which is the work of the present owners, who with much flair have created a garden which has achieved international acclaim. Styling themselves as ‘The Naked Gardeners’, the house owners have brought life and colour back to the property, and the business element enables the public to enjoy the fruits of their labour which in turn has boosted the economy of the town.
To the front of the house is a level garden incorporating an upper lawn surrounded by herbaceous borders, a knot garden in the shape of a Celtic cross (influenced by St Martin’s Cross on Iona) and the Lady Chapel walk. Yew hedges compartmentalise the upper lawns, adding privacy to the gardens and achieving a dramatic sense of scale. Further yew hedges ‘replace’ other historic walls and continue the division of the garden.
The eastern garden is dominated by the circular herb garden, extending to about 100 feet in diameter with a uniform pattern of paths. Raised oak beds contain a collection of herbs, centred around a fish pond with a fountain. A circular colonnade of fruit cordons separate the area from the herbaceous borders, serpentine bed, a laburnum tunnel which is under planted with a succession of seasonal bulbs, and stew pond.
Terraced wooded paths, including many specimen trees, lead down to the more natural river gardens with monastic fish ponds, waterfalls, mill races and a bridge over the River Avon.
Other features include a two hundred year old Mulberry tree, a Monks Head of yew, yew sentinels leading up to a Saxon archway, stepping stones across the river to the fernery and over 2,000 roses.
As one would expect, the garden has been designed for all seasons. The borders are densely planted to ensure dramatic impact with a kaleidoscope of seasonal colours.
Abbey House grounds also include The Cloister Garden (0.7 acres), located to the west of the main drive which is let to Malmesbury Town Council for use of the land as a ‘town garden’ only under a 100 lease, dated 30 July 1979.
Ground Floor: Reception hall, Drawing room , Library, Kitchen/breakfast room, Secondary kitchen, Studio, Utility, Belvedere
Lower Ground Floor: Abbots hall, Games room with wine store, Pantry, Cloakroom with 2 WC’s
First Floor: Master bedroom, 4 guest bedrooms, Living room/kitchenette, Family bathroom
Cloakroom, potential 2nd bathroom
Second Floor: 9 bedrooms, Shower room, Kitchenette, WC
Outside: Exceptional gardens and grounds including formal gardens, river gardens, herb garden,
plentiful herbaceous borders and fish ponds
In all about 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres)
Property Features Include: Historic Home
Approximate Square Feet:
Lot Acres: 4.5