Talks are underway to transform Malmesbury’s Abbey House into a 15-bed luxury hotel.

The Texan millionaires who bought and renovated The Old Bell said they hope to close on the deal to buy the property in the Autumn.

Whit and Kim Hanks want to transform the Grade 1 listed building into a premier wedding event location.

"It is a bit of a hot potato," said Whit.

"The Old Bell will get better and better for us, but it is much trickier over there at Abbey House.

"We need to make changes and it is a Grade 1 listed building. It takes a lot of effort and permission to do that. The garden is not profitable by itself so we have to do up the house.

"It has no insulation, it has what I consider 19th century plumbing, and it will take many millions of pounds to fix up.

"We know weddings and do about 3,000 a year back in Texas. That means a lot of people and a lot of logistics so it is a balancing act renovating a grade 1 listed building and the impact of the full utilisation of Abbey House.

"I have a list of 200 reasons as to why the answer is no from regulators at the council and Historic England - and we have to work through all of that.

"The leverage we have is that the town really wants the business. They are supportive of the idea as people who come here for the gardens may spend money here. So they would hate to see it turned into a private residence.

"You have got to be doing it in a way that attracts commerce."

He said adding 15 ensuite bathrooms means a lot is changing. "We can't just saw through a 500-year-old beam to do that."

He said he expects another year or two wrangling with the authorities is on the cards before construction can be considered.

Whit Hanks said that a visit to the area buying antiques more than 40 years ago led to him discovering his family descended from the Garsden area of the town.

“I could trace back to the 1500’s,” he said. “My 11th great grandfather was living in Malmesbury in 1540 and his sons all the way to 1699 when they left for America.”

He and wife Kim plan to hop between Wiltshire and Texas monthly.

"The town has really embraced us," he added.

Malmesbury's mayor Paul Smith recently reopened The Old Bell: "I have not seen any plans for the development of Abbey House however I am aware that a great deal of work is needed to make the boutique premises they desire and all within the Grade 1 listing of the premises listing. I am sure that a successful conclusion will be reached.

"As an aside If they use the same person to do the wallpapering as they used in The Old Bell it will be to the highest standard. They must have the best decorated Gents toilet for miles around. I hear the ladies is excellent too," he said.