Walking around Melton Mowbray today, it’s almost certain that you’ll be following in the footsteps of royalty.
Melton is a town which is filled with Royal connections, from the visit of King Richard I in 1194 through to Prince Charles visiting the historic livestock market. Eleven of the 14 Plantagenet kings visited Melton, and Thomas ‘Wolf Hall’ Cromwell owned the priory that is now the Anne of Cleves pub.
Between 1194 and 1487, 11 of England’s 15 kings visited, but what brought them to this Leicestershire town?
Some might offer pork pies or fox hunting as a reason – Melton is famous for both – but the ‘Rural Capital of Food’ didn’t start baking pies or hosting the hunt until the 18th century.
The monarchs were travelling on the Great North Road between London and the North, which for 300 years ran through Melton Mowbray. Start your explorations at the Blue Plaque near St Mary’s Church, marking Richard I’s visit in 1194.
Then cross the car park to the Anne of Cleves pub, where a plaque tells how this former priory was given by Henry VIII to Thomas Cromwell after the Reformation. Thanks to his unpopular suggestion that the king marry Anne of Cleves, he didn’t get to enjoy it. Cromwell was executed for his trouble and Anne received the building in her divorce settlement.
Opposite, another plaque commemorates Beau Brummel and the Old Hunt Club he frequented when Melton was regarded nationally as the ‘capital of fox hunting’. Brummel’s friend George IV visited the town, paving the way for almost every other monarch that followed over the next 200 years. Most came to hunt in this fashionable resort, and one, the future Edward VIII, began a relationship here with Wallis Simpson that led to his abdication.
Walk further along Burton Street to the hunting lodge of James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade. Another huntsman, the Marquis of Waterford, is showcased in Melton Carnegie Museum. His drunken antics in 1837 are said to have coined the phrase ‘Painting the Town Red’.
End your day at Melton’s 1,000-year-old street market, the third oldest in the country, or its historic livestock market, visited by Prince Charles.
Melton heritage trail will show you a thousand years of history including the places and people that made the town what it is today. Whilst you’re in Melton you can explore parkland, visit cafes, buy local produce and head to the Melton Carnegie Museum, which features informative exhibitions on the history of Melton Mowbray and the surrounding area.
You can open a downloadable Map version and view the Heritage Guide Here
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