To celebrate the upcoming Heritage Open Days across the UK, volunteers at the Athelstan Museum will be shining a light on their ‘own’ Turner painting. The painting depicts Malmesbury Abbey.

Sharon Nolan, chairman of the museum said: ‘We’re throwing open our doors on Saturday and Sunday September 18 and 19 to celebrate Malmesbury’s own heritage. The highlight of our show will, of course, be our very own ‘Turner’!

‘We’re thrilled to share this amazing piece of art. We’re so proud we’ve secured this iconic picture for future generations’.

Malmesbury museum turner - Malmesbury Turner Going on Display


Joseph Mallord William Turner, born in 1775, has global recognition as one of the UK’s greatest artists. Some of his best known works include The Fighting Temeraire, The Burning Houses of Parliament and, of course, Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire.

Thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Art Fund and local Wiltshire donors, the Athelstan Museum could buy one of the ninety-six watercolours that make up Turner’s set of ‘Picturesque Views in England and Wales’.

Turner visited Malmesbury as a teenager, made several sketches of the abbey and its setting above the River Avon. It became the inspiration for several artworks later in his life.

The Malmesbury Abbey painting, now housed at Athelstan Museum, came up for sale in 2018 at the Gallery of Richard Green in London. William Sykes spotted it in a magazine advertisement. After months of raising funds and negotiation the picture got bought for the community.

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days are the UK’s largest festival of heritage and culture. They showcase more than 2,000 locations around the country and highlight the dedication and commitment of 1000s of volunteers. Other local heritage sites which will be open across the weekend include:

1. Ratcliffe & Son
2. Westport Iron Works
3. The Julia and Hans Rausing Building, once the Moravian Church. That’s been recently renovated by the Athelstan Museum. It too will be exhibiting some other items from the museum’s collection.

The Athelstan Museum can trace its origins back to 1931. Back then, the locals made an appeal for items to include in its first collection for display in the town hall. 

The Turner holds pride of place at the top of the stairs in the newly renovated mezzanine floor of the museum.

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