Malmesbury Abbey launches guide for children

This Is Wiltshire: Children from Malmesbury Primary School help launch the guide Children from Malmesbury Primary School help launch the guide

A cartoon guide to some of the most interesting characters in Malmesbury’s past has been produced to inspire young historians.

Among those included are Malmesbury Abbey founder and seventh century bishop St Aldhelm; the first king of England King Athelstan, who is buried in the abbey grounds; and Elmer the flying monk, who took to the skies with a set of home-made wings 1,000 years ago.

There are also some quirky additions to the guide, including Hannah Twynnoy, who was killed by a tiger and buried in the abbey grounds in 1703, and even some skateboarding monks.

The guide’s author, 22-year-old Jason Peel, who lives in Malmesbury, said: “The abbey wanted a guide that would appeal to children and was written for them and it’s great because there’s lots of colourful characters in the abbey’s history.

“So the guide’s got all the big characters, it looks great and I’m really pleased with the final result.”

Illustrator Phil Horswell’s original colourful cartoons, commissioned for the guide, were displayed in an exhibition recently at Malmesbury Town Hall and are now in smaller form in the abbey guide.

Mr Horswell said: “Jason gave me the brief and said what characters and stories I had to depict, and I think my favourite to draw was Hannah Twynnoy “We tried to inject some humour into the images and we’ve got a colouring-in page separately with most of the characters on there.”

The Rev Neill Archer, vicar of Malmesbury Abbey, said he hoped children would enjoy reading the guide.

He said: “A few years ago we completely re-designed the main guide for visitors to the abbey and we were aware we have lots of children coming here too, with their families, with schools and for events.

“There was nothing to help them really enjoy the experience of the abbey so, working with the team, we’ve come up with something that was written and designed especially for children.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done and we hope lots of young people enjoy it.”

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