Malmesbury’s Abbey House and Gardens under new ownership

Malmesbury’s Abbey House and Gardens are officially under new ownership.

Texan couple Kim and Whit Hanks made the purchase on November 1, although it had been agreed earlier this year when they took over the neighbouring Old Bell Hotel.

While the public gardens have now closed for the season, the new owners say they intend for them to be open again in the spring.

The Abbey House and Gardens have a rich history, dating back to the 12th century, with the first King of England, King Athelstan, believed to be buried there. In more recent years it has been best known as the home of Ian Pollard – ‘The Naked Gardener’.

Following Ian’s death in 2019 the property was put up for sale.

The Hanks’ have yet to reveal details of their plans for Abbey House, but say they will be working alongside bodies such as Historic England to ‘retain the property’s history and integrity’.

They will continue to divide their time between Malmesbury and Dripping Springs, Texas, where they are the founders of Whim Hospitality, Camp Lucy and Tillie’s Restaurant.

Prior to these purchases they were already regular visitors to Malmesbury, the Hanks ancestral home since 1500.

After the purchase of The Old Bell Hotel, a surprising discovery was made when title deeds surfaced revealing that members of the Hanks family – and Whit’s distant relatives – had owned part of the hotel more than 150 years earlier.

Mark Pleydell Hanks was also recorded as being resident at Abbey House in the 1841 census.

Kim said: “We didn’t know that the Hanks family used to own part of the hotel and lived here. It is an amazing coincidence.”

Whit added: “I have a grandson in America whose name is Henry Hanks and I love the fact that his distant English relative, with the same name, had his home here at the Bell all those years ago.”

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