The Old Bell Hotel - England's Oldest Hotel
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The Old Bell Hotel - England's Oldest Hotel

The Old Bell Hotel, Englands oldest hotel, Malmesbury, Malmesbury Abbey, oldest borough in England, town with most listed buildings in England, The Cotswolds Hotels, grade I listed hotels, oldest surviving example of a domestic fire served by a flue in England, Malmesbury market Cross, Saint Aldheim,

The Old Bell Hotel, situated in the Cotswold Market Town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, has the distinction of being the oldest, continually used hotel in England.

Built in 1220 the hotel was originally used as a resting place for visiting pilgrims and holy scholars to the nearby Malmesbury Abbey, a Benedictine abbey built around 675 by Irish monk Mailduf, who chose scholar and later to be Catholic, Saint Aldheim ( 639 - 709) as his order's first abbot.

Much of the abbey and surrounding gardens still survive to this day and are open daily to visitors. 

 Malmesbury the town is also an English record breaker, as the town has the distinction of being England's oldest, continually inhabited borough, with evidence of a former Neolithic fort and an Iron Age fort having been built in the area. The town was granted a Royal Charter in 880 AD by the Anglo Saxon King of Wessex, Alfred the Great.


                    Malmesbury Abbey.

The town also boasts over 400 listed buildings within it's environs, making it the town with the highest number of listed buildings anywhere in England.

The hotel, abbey and town are all situated in an area known as the Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty, situated in the south of England, which is famous for it's quaint villages, ancient churches and quintessential English, rural charm. 


Image courtesy of Saffron Blaze, wikimedia commons.

                         The Cotswolds. 

Today, the 3 Star, grade I listed Old Bell Hotel, which is privately owned and run, has 33 individually designed rooms - including 3 singles -  and 8 suites, an Edwardian period restaurant, the Loring's Brasserie noted for it's fine afternoon and cream teas, a well stocked bar and free gym membership to a neighbouring establishment just two minutes walk away..

The building is made of limestone rubble and sports both mullion and 17th century dormer windows.

The hotel's luxurious interior ranges from the medeival period through to the Edwardian period and consists of an ashlar fire hood dating back to the inn's origins in 1220, making it the oldest surviving example of a domestic fire served with a flue, in England.

The interior also sports 16th century, deep moulded beams, a 17th century doorway, compartmental ceilings, four poster beds in it's suites and a vaulted cellar with a ceiling supposedly lined with 8 stone coffins.

The main building is connected to it's former coach house by a corridor, where there are 6 standard, non period style, bedrooms. 

 The name Old Bell comes from the Saint Aldheim's Bell, one of a peel of ten bells that once hung in the west tower of the abbey's former church.The hotel is situated on Abbey Row, just a few metres from Malmesbury Abbey.


  Image courtesy of Philip Hayling, wikimedia commons.

   The Old Bell Hotel, Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

ADDRESS - Old Bell Hotel, Abbey Row, Malmesbury, Wiltshire.


TEL - 01666 822344



As well as the abbey, the town also hosts a myriad of other listed, ancient buildings and structures, including it's highly ornate, 15th century Market Cross, which was built according to town records, to shelter poore market folke when rain cometh, something this beautifully decorated, stone cross is still doing on market days, to this day.


                                        Malmesbury Market Cross. Circa 1490.

Other reknowned English hotels -       london-guide-the-goring-hotel 





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Comments (3)

Oldest? Wow, that would be something to see!

I have driven through this town on many occasions, always looks a delightful place.

Great ob DeeBee. I'm with James, this hotel would be something to see and photograph. The photographs that you used to illustrate this article just makes me want to photograph the interior.