20th December 2023

A Year in Malmesbury Life. For a small rural market town, with a population a little over 7,000 people, Malmesbury has crammed a lot into 2023.

And as residents sit back and reflect on the year, it’s notable how many events have been ‘firsts’ for the town -nestling in the north of Wiltshire, on the edge of the Cotswolds.

Led by Malmesbury Town Council, often working in partnership with other local organisations, not a month goes by without something going on.

A Year in Malmesbury Life - Hugh Pym speaking
A Year in Malmesbury Life – Hugh Pym speaking

So, what’s been happening during 2023?

Well! As the oldest borough in England, the town likes to hold a ceremony or two. March saw a Jubilee tree dedication take place. Then in May, town staged the annual Mayor’s Ball, followed a few days later by the Mayor’s Robing Ceremony.

April saw a ‘first’ organised by the Town Council. In an effort to support and thank the many clubs and community groups that continued to provide a service during the pandemic, they organised a community day.

Military ties

The town has strong ties with servicemen and women at 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps. And in May the town awarded them the Freedom of the Town of Malmesbury. People turned out in droves to watch the regiment parade through the town.

June was a big month for the versatile town hall building – used as a venue for productions and cinema screenings. Malmesbury Town Council performed the official opening of its new retractable tiered seating. That replacef the old dining style chairs. So now audiences can watch in comfort, with much improved viewing.

Malmesbury has a strong cultural heritage. So August saw the month-long High Street Arts Gallery. Then retailers displayed the work of local artists, creating a trail of artwork around the town.

Another ‘first’ came in September, and hitting a high note, was the town’s inaugural Folk & Roots Festival. Organised in record time, and staged in the Cloister Gardens of Malmesbury Abbey, the event was a sellout. So plans are already underway for an encore in 2024.

November saw 9 Regiment RLC on parade in the town again, for the Service of Remembrance.

Then came December

Then onto December and the annual Christmas late night shopping. Son of Malmesbury, BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym performed the opening ceremony.

Dotted amongst all this, throughout the year, were celebrations of Ukraine’s festival of Ivana Kupala, organised with Malmesbury Stands by Ukraine and the many Ukrainian refugees in the town. German schoolchildren visited Malmesbury School to strengthen the 70-year-old ties with Malmesbury’s twin town, Niebull. There was a town picnic to mark the King’s Coronation. And Malmesbury Town Council ran its annual Malmesbury in Bloom competition for residents, traders and schoolchildren.

‘We’re nothing if not busy in Malmesbury,’ said Town Mayor Cllr Gavin Grant. ‘Our town councillors and local groups work together to ensure there is plenty going on for residents, businesses and visitors. And thanks to their hard work our small market town is on the map.’

The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman loved Malmesbury, calling it, ‘A city set on a hill which cannot be hid.’ The town is, for certain, making sure its activities are in the spotlight.

So what’s planned for 2024? More of the same, with one special ‘first’. Next year marks 1100 years since the naming of King Athelstan as the first King of England. And guess where he lived and is reputedly buried? Malmesbury.

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