Abbey House Gardens


The Garden

With 1300 years of history, the first King of all England buried somewhere in the garden, two saints thrown down the well, and now one of the great gardens of the world. The spirit of the place shines through and could be the best garden visit you ever make.

Where the Cotswold meets the West Country, featured on many TV programmes this truly spectacular 5 acre garden beside the 12th century Abbey Church in the centre of Medieval Malmesbury and straddling the River Avon has brought praise from around the world.

In 1994, Abbey House was bought by Ian and Barbara Pollard, who had previously owned and run Hazel Manor another mansion near Box in Wiltshire. They set about transforming the 5 acres (20,000 m2), and opened the gardens to the public in 1996.

As well as the gardens, the Pollards also became known as 'The Naked Gardeners'. Both Ian and Barbara, particularly Ian, spoke freely of their love of naturism, and were often featured in newspapers and magazines pictured naked among the foliage of Abbey House.

Featuring formal knot gardens, spring bulbs, tulips (third of a million), hostas, laburnum tunnel, colonnade walk, roses (largest collection in the UK), japanese maples, fruit trees, double herbaceous borders, irises, alstroemerias, herb garden, monastic fish ponds.  Woodland and riverside walks with wildlife from water voles, the occasional otter, goldcrests, longtailed tits, treecreepers, kingfishers, woodpeckers to sparrow hawks, buzzards and swans.

View Map

The Gardener

Ian & Barbara bought Abbey House in 1994 to make it their home for their family of three children and in the autumn of 1996 decided to create a garden that might attract visitors from around the world to the historic town of Malmesbury.

Ian formerly enjoyed a career in property development.  Some of his most notable work is visible in London; buildings such as the Marco Polo building opposite Battersea Park by Chelsea Bridge and the Sainsbury Homebase building in Kensington. 

Barbara is a self confessed ‘Jack of all Trades’ listing teaching, fashion modelling, promotional, sales  and marketing work on her C.V. 

Both enjoy the decorative arts in all its forms and whilst Barbara grew up in a garden with a small holding Ian made his first forays into horticulture as an adult once he owned a property with land on the east side of the country.


Garden Details

The Abbey House, Market Cross, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England, SN16 9AS
01666 822212 for a recorded information message. 01666 827650 between 10 - 4pm to speak to the office
Contact Person
Geraldine Wilkins
11am – 5.30pm 21st March – 31st October
Garden Size
Our 5.5 acre garden is a complex eco system inhabited by a really wide range of wildlife. Every year we are surprised by the diversity of the animals and insects that visit us.
Adults £6.50, Concessions £5.75, Children 5 - 15 yrs £3.00, Under 5s free, Family £16 Groups (min 20) £5.50.
Parking is in the Long Stay car park adjacent to the garden.
Please climb Abbey steps (60) to access the gardens entrance or arrange to be dropped at The Market Cross in the town centre (2 minute level walk to the admission gates). There is a short stay car park in the town centre but parking is limited to 2 hours, is more expensive and often full.
We have excellent toilet facilities including disabled and baby changing.
Food Available
Not so much a tea room, as an indoor/outdoor space where you watch and listen to the birds from the Belvedere with its spectacular views across the river valley – it is really like sitting in the tree tops – as you select from our range of teas, coffees and soft drinks, or watch the kio carp in the ‘Stew pond’ from the shelter of the pentice.
Light lunches including: Sandwiches, Paninis, Jackets and Seasonal Soups.
We offer a range of Teas – from builders to Earl Grey Coffee – Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha and Standard Hot Chocolate - fair trade Juices – orange, apple, mango, pineapple Squashes: - orange, blackcurrant, orange & peach, summer-fruits, orange & mango apple,pear & grape juice when in season made from our own fruit, pasteurised and bottled locally. Ice cream – from local Marshfield Farm. Biscuits and cakes - To soak it up we provide locally made biscuits and cakes.
Wheelchair Access
Many of our visitors that use wheelchairs come back again and again which says it all don’t you think? We are unable to offer a wheelchair on loan for use in the grounds at present but you are welcome to bring your own. Please be assured that most wheelchairs find the gardens at least 60% accessible, some accessing 100%. Indeed the smooth gravel paths around the grounds are generally easy to negotiate by most wheeled carriages.
Please ask for the wheelchair plan available at our admissions kiosk when you come in.
Want to extend your stay in Malmesbury and stay locally?
Then view our local accommodation information.
We specialise in bespoke weddings ranging from intimate ceremonies involving just you and your witnesses to parties of up to 130. Whatever style of wedding you’ve dreamed of we can help you to turn it into reality. Abbey House Gardens is an historic, privately owned family home surrounded by enchanting, world famous gardens offering a magical setting for your wedding ceremony and reception.
To arrange an appointment, please call Sophie on 01666 822782
Guided Tours
Groups only are invited to arrange a guided tour of the garden with its visionary owner and designer, Ian Pollard (an additional fee applies) please contact us for further details.
Other Facilities

Admission to the gardens on a Clothes Optional Day does not require a visitor to be without their clothes. The opportunity is offered to anyone who so wishes to spend their time within the garden boundaries without their clothes. We are not a club requiring membership, do not have club facilities and offer simply the opportunity to visit the gardens without clothes and without comment.