Wiltshire Unitary Authority
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The present Norman style abbey stands upon the site of an earlier Saxon abbey founded around 676, and was one of the earliest churches in England. The abbey was a center of learning, and by the eleventh century, Malmesbury Abbey contained the second largest library in Europe. The present church was one of the few abbey buildings to survive the dissolution of the monasteries. It was sold by Henry VIII to a textile merchant who returned the church to the town and made arrangements for it to become the parish church. It was consecrated as such in August 1541. A part of the building collapsed around 1500, and the collapse of the west tower, which left a large hole behind what is now the rear of the nave, followed half a century later. A thorough restoration was carried out early in the 20th century; about one third of the original Norman structure remains and still serves as the parish church.