Malmesbury Abbey

By Emma Kirkup

At the start of July, I met with Jules Mittra from Around and About Bath for a guided tour with a difference around some of Wiltshire’s lesser-known areas.

Jules set up the company to take people staying in Bath and the nearby area outside of just the usual honeypot sites and to showcase parts of the south of England that visitors might not know about and that are often difficult to get to by public transport.

Picking up in central Bath, I was introduced to the other guests on the trip including a local hotelier and some guests on a tour of Europe from Australia. 

Jules immediately put us all at ease and chatted away about his background including how he was formerly a history teacher at secondary schools but wanted a change in lifestyle and that’s what led him to develop Around and About Bath.

We started our journey by travelling out of Bath along some of the country lanes, taking us well and truly off the beaten track passing some very pretty Cotswold villages and hamlets. Jules explained to us some of the history of the area, from its agricultural roots and how a hundred years ago many of this area would have housed the poor. Today, it’s a very much sought-after area, particularly with its close connections to Bath, Bristol and the M4, not to mention the gorgeous countryside! 

Our first stop of the day was in the Wiltshire village of Sherston. I’d heard a lot about this village but hadn’t been to it before. Although the weather at this stage wasn’t performing as I’d hoped (it started raining the moment we left the minibus!) I could still see the charm of the wide High Street and the pretty buildings. Luckily, we had the chance to escape the rain over a coffee stop in one of the village’s pubs and here Jules began to tell us about more of what we’d expect to see throughout the day and an overview of the history that has led to the area becoming of historical importance. 

Jules Mittra

I must admit, I didn’t ever enjoy history at school, only really developing an interest in it after having worked in a historic visitor attraction in my college days. However, Jules taught me things about English history that I’d never really got to grips with before, including the Celts, Saxons and the Viking and Norman invasions and how this all influenced what is known as England today. We also learnt of King Athelstan, the first King of England. Little is known about this King but interestingly he had a very strong affinity to Malmesbury (our next stop of the day) and is buried somewhere within Malmesbury Abbey.

Malmesbury was the next stop and it was great to be able to see bits of the town that I hadn’t visited before. We heard tales of philosophers, witch hunts and an attempt by Elmer, one of the Abbey’s monks to fly. You’ll also get the opportunity to learn about Hannah Twynnoy, who’s buried in the Abbey’s graveyard, and her unfortunate end.


Cotswold Hare Trail

Next up, we had the chance to go behind-the-scenes at a local butchers and see how their award-winning sausages are made. There’s even a chance to have a go at making them and then stringing them up, I clearly am not meant to be a butcher as was not very coordinated when it came to doing this! 

Making sausages

After all this, we were feeling pretty peckish and headed to our lunch stop, a pub that has been frequented by Prince Charles on many an occasion! 

After a tasty lunch, we were driven to a nearby micro-brewery, the Flying Monk Brewery (named after good old Elmer the monk). We had the chance to sample one of the beers and learn about how the beer is made, barrelled and where it then goes. They make several beers, all with local themed names including Birdman and Elmers and there’s the opportunity to buy bottles of the beer and local cider here too.

Grittleton House

Our final stop of the day was to the Victorian mansion, Grittleton House. Here, Jules walked us through some of the main rooms of the house and talked about the eclectic taste and the contrasts in architecture found within the building. The grounds surrounding the house are stunning and it’s easy to see why it’s used as a wedding and event venue.

Grittleton House garden

It was great to hear what the overseas visitors on the trip had to say about the day. They loved the opportunity to see parts of the area that they wouldn’t have necessarily known about and to meet with some of the local characters along the way.

Thanks to Jules for letting me join in on the tour and helping to improve my historical knowledge of the local area! 

For information: the tour I did was Cotswolds, Saxons and Victuals. Jules currently runs two other tours as well; Stonehenge and Secret Somerset and Medieval Marvels and Movies. If you are staying in or near to Bath then Around and About Bath are a great tour for finding out more about some of our county's hidden gems. 


In & Beyond Bath
Coach & Bus Tours
In & Beyond Bath
Market Town
Malmesbury and Malmesbury Abbey

Looking to visit the amazing town of Malmesbury?...If so, click here to get the latest Malmesbury tourist information direct from the official Wiltshire tourism site!



  1. Martin
    Hi Julian,

    Touring the Bath Country Side is must do, we would love the experience, well done with this tour, surely it's got to be the most interesting and gripping tour about.

    Your Uncle Martin from Malta 😋
  2. Rafi truly are the best tour guide/ 'host with the most' - I shout about you all the time, you are a warm, enthusiastic and vivicious character who makes any tour/adventure a joy to participate in and a memorable experience! Best wishes, your biggest fan
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