Local Attractions

Malmesbury boasts a surprising array of attractions, all of which are an easy walk from The Stables at The Rookery:

The highlight of any stay in Malmesbury must be a visit to its beautiful Abbey. The Abbey dates back to the 7th century and has a rich history. It was the setting for Monk Eilmer’s attempt at flight in 1010 (unfortunately unsuccessful).  While strolling through Birdcage Walk and the Abbey graveyard, see if you can spot the grave of Hannah Twynnoy, supposedly the first person to be killed by a tiger in England.


No visit to Malmesbury is complete without a trip to the Abbey House Gardens, located just behind Malmesbury Abbey.  Home of the “naked gardeners” Ian and Barbara Pollard, the garden features an amazing array of plants and flowers in all seasons.

The Malmesbury River Walk, along which one can meander (!) to view the town from an unusual and revealing perspective, and visit some of the town's historic features such as Daniel's Well and the Sluice Gates.  The walk can be joined at several points but is worth doing completely to see some of the river's wildlife... swans, coot and possibly kingfisher and pike... as well as working farmland and the surrounding countryside... all whilst being within a few minutes of tea and scones or a ploughman's lunch in the town if, or rather, when, needed.

The Athelstan Museum, situated in Malmesbury's Town Hall, will provide the visitor with the historic background to the town, from its Neolithic beginnings as a fort in 2,500BC through to the present day. (Free entry)

Slightly further afield, but still within a 20 minute drive, are the following attractions:

Westonbirt Arboretum is situated just 5 miles from Malmesbury.  Famed for its superb collection of Japanese Maples, it is spectacular all year round, but of particular interest are the Festival of the Tree (August), the Autumn Colours (October) and the Enchanted Christmas (December), as well as Westonbirt’s varied programme of summer concerts.   Guided walks, family events and specialist talks take place year-round – see events page for further details. Note we have complimentary Westonbirt tickets allowing our guests free entry (excluding certain special events).  

Highgrove, Prince Charles's country residence, is a 15 minute drive away. Tours of the delightful gardens, (followed by afternoon tea!) need to be booked in advance.

The Cotswold Water Park is an area of 40 square miles on the Wiltshire / Gloucestershire border, with over 140 lakes formed as a result of gravel extraction.  With lovely walks, watersports, a beach, angling and plenty of eateries, there is something for everyone. 

Considered to be one of Wiltshire’s greatest hidden treasures, Bowood House & Gardens is open to visitors between April and November. For those wishing to escape into an oasis of outstanding natural beauty, the”Capability” Brown grounds designed in 1762 provide a soothing retreat from the modern world.

STEAM, the Museum of the Great Western Railway, is housed in a beautifully restored Grade II railway building in the heart of the former Swindon railway works.  The Museum tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway - 'God’s Wonderful Railway' - a railway network that, through the pioneering vision and genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was regarded as the most advanced in the world.   The STEAM museum is right next to the Swindon Designer Outlet Centre – perfect for combining culture with bargain-hunting!

Dyrham Park (National Trust) is a spectacular late 17th-century mansion, garden and deer park. Explore 270 acres (110 hectares) of ancient parkland, where a historic herd of fallow deer roams freely and magnificent trees and breathtaking views abound.

We are about an hour from:

Stonehenge, one of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. 


Eating Out
A selection of our recommendations for places to eat and drink locally:

In Malmesbury town centre (easy walking distance within 10 minutes of us)...


The Smoking Dog
62 High Street, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9AT
01666 825823
A la Carte style Gastro Cuisine, cooked to order from fresh ingredients, served from a Bespoke menu & Specials board with 2/3 dishes daily including local sausages, can be enjoyed in the restaurant.

The Old Bell Hotel
Abbey Row, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0BW
01666 288344
The Old Bell Hotel has earned a far reaching reputation as one of the finest Cotswolds restaurants thanks to Head Chef Jason Drew and his team. Dishes exploit the wealth of fresh produce available in the Cotswolds, with diverse flavours and textures which reflect the seasons. 

The Kings Arms
29 High Street, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9AA
01666 823 383
Newly renovated, The King's Arms Hotel is a 16th-century coaching inn nestled in central Malmesbury.

The Rajah Indian Restaurant
6 Market Cross, Malmesbury SN16 9AS
01666 826677
Indian Cuisine. Take away service available.

Spice Merchant
Holloway, Malmesbury, SN16 9HX
01666 823330
Cuisine from Northern India. Take away service available.

The Bird Cage
2, The High Street, Malmesbury
01666 825505
High class Pizza and Deli

9, Oxford Street,Malmesbury
01666 823227
Family Italian restaurant set in an old guild hall.

And then, a short drive away...

The Vine Tree
Foxley Road, Norton, Nr. Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0JP
01666 837654
Frequently changing menu features seasonal and sustainable produce delivered fresh on a daily basis, including fish and seafood from Cornwall and Brixham. We strongly believe in the virtues of using local suppliers and closely follow the seasons. Game is often shot on Badminton and local estates.

The Wheatsheaf at Oaksey
Wheatsheaf Lane, Oaksey, Wiltshire SN16 9TB
01666 577348
Warm and Inviting, The Wheatsheaf at Oaksey is a unique place. Full of sophistication and charm on the edge of the Cotswolds, this is a popular village local with an enviable reputation for food.

The Rose and Crown
Lea, Nr. Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9PF
01666 824344
Offering a relaxed mixture of excellent food, a cosy interior, good beers and wines and a location in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, the Lea's Rose and Crown is certainly a pub worth finding.

The Horse Guards
Brokenborough, Nr. Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 0HZ
01666 822302
Sourced locally and to organic standards where possible, the menus feature all that is best and seasonal in the Cotswolds. The approach to real ales is similarly uncompromising. You won't find a nationally distributed beer at The Horse Guards but you will get a true taste of the Cotswolds when sampling the quality of the real ales.