Founded in the 7C, the abbey has links with many characters from its history including St Aldhelm (639-709), one of its first abbots, the great historian William of Malmesbury (1095-1143), who was the librarian here, and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Construction of the church began in the 12C, although it has suffered much damage over time. During the Dissolution, the abbey was sold to a local stonecutter who donated its remains to the inhabitants of the village. The former abbey church subsequently became the parish church.
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