The Spire – St Paul’s Church
All that remains today of St Paul’s church is the spire. There was a church here in Saxon times but nothing of that remains. It is thought that the present church was built around 1300AD and the spire added about 100 years later; less than 250 years later the nave of the church was ‘ruinous’ and Stumpe, who had bought the Abbey extensive estates from the crown for £1516 15s 21/2d, gave the abbey nave to the town as a parish church and the license to use it as such was granted in 1541.
Remains of the south wall of the chancel have been incorporated into other buildings and this can be seen clearly from Birdcage Walk.
The spire houses 8 bells for the Abbey even though in early times it was in a different parish. The oldest is the treble, sixteenth century or even older; the youngest three were added in the 1959s when the rest were retuned.
The clock, which only has two faces, was made by Henry Weight, a local clock maker, in 1858. The clock almost certainly was bought in kit form and he assembled it. The mechanical drive was replaced by an electric motor in 1952 and the works lay neglected until the museum with the aid of RAF Hullavington restored them. Unfortunately lack of room in the museum means they cannot be displayed there but they can be seen by appointment in the bell tower. For more details see our booklet Telling the time for Malmesbury.
Over the centuries the ground level has risen and so you now have to step down through an ancient doorway with a very low lintel to enter the bell tower.