Generous Donation Allows Museum to Celebrate Athelstan 1100 in Anglo Saxon Style

A generous donation from the entrepreneurial couple who have adopted Malmesbury as their second home is allowing the Athelstan Museum to host amazing Anglo Saxon artefacts to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of Athelstan becoming King.

Whit and Kim Hanks, the owners of the Old Bell Hotel and Abbey House in the town, have donated £5,000 to the Athelstan Museum so that the team can give a temporary home to some stunning artifacts including:

The charter of Athelstan to the burgesses of Malmesbury – the earliest known version of a charter by which Athelstan supposedly granted common land of about 600 acres to the burgesses of Malmesbury.

Bede the Venerable, Two Lives of St Cuthbert – the first two pages including the famous picture of Athelstan presenting the book to St. Cuthbert.

The Abingdon Sword – a hilt and sword fragment of a late Anglo Saxon c875AD. 

The town of Malmesbury is celebrating throughout the summer of 2024 as it’s 1100 years since Athelstan became the first King of England and Malmesbury was central to his life and reign. He chose to be buried within the Abbey (though the exact location is a mystery as his remains were moved 200 years after his death).

There are a range of celebrations and events going on across the town and the Athelstan Museum is holding an exhibition as part of those activities. They will be showcasing items on loan from The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Chairman of the Trustees Sharon Nolan said: “The items are wonderful and are being loaned to us free of charge – however there are insurance and security implications around hosting them and that is why we need to raise funds. We’re very grateful to Whit and Kim Hanks for being our main sponsors for the exhibition.”

Whit and Kim love the Athelstan Museum which is home to the ‘Hanks’ clock which was made by a relative of Whit whose seventh great grandfather, Benjamin Hanks came from Malmesbury. He left for America in 1699.

The couple, who live and run their own hospitality company in Dripping Springs, Texas, have fallen in love with Malmesbury.

“We’re so thrilled to be able to support this exhibition at the museum and also in doing so to support a whole range of activities planned across the summer in the town. We cannot wait to be part of the celebrations,” Kim said.

Additional funds to meet the strict requirements around hosting the artifacts have come from the King Athelstan Memorial Fund (anyone else) and some private donors who are friends of the museum. Volunteers will be giving extra time over the summer to keep the museum open to welcome an upswell of visitors who are expected to flock to Malmesbury over the summer months.  For more information visit

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