Malmesbury Abbey Lands

Malmesbury HundredUndoubtedly Malmesbury Abbey held very considerable estates both locally and further afield. However much of the evidence is lost and records are fragmentary and unreliable.

The earliest charters date to the 7th century. Unfortunately they are somewhat suspect. It seems the good monks were not above rewriting history if they felt the past wasn’t good enough. These charters claim that in 675AD Bishop Leutherius granted the site of the abbey to the monastery; that in 701AD King Ine gave them Rodbourne and Corston and in 956AD King Edwy conferred a 100 hide estate at Brokenborough on them.

The Malmesbury hundred which the monastery held in fee farm was granted to it in 1215AD. A hundred was a division or area within a county which held its own court. It was formed by the merger around Malmesbury of the Cicemethorn (Chedglow) hundred to the north and the Suteledberg (Startley) hundred to the south. This large territory stretched from Crudwell in the north to Sutton Benger in the south, from Norton in the west to Brinkworth in the east (20 X 16 kilometres approximately). The monastery had an estate of 23,000 acres or 93kmē.

The abbot of Malmesbury had a lodge in the 13th century at Cowfold Park. This is thought to be Cole Park and to have been where the present house stands.

The document which transfers abbey lands to William Stumpe from Henry VIII in 1544 after the dissolution deals with three areas. The first consists of numerous messuages, yards and tofts at Rodbourne, all identified by the tenants. The second refers to Brinkworth Manor and all the rights relating to that which were considerable and the third refers to lands around the Abbey at Malmesbury. Other land locally was sold to different buyers and doubtless the same happened further afield.