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Melton Mowbray is a town in the Melton boroughmarker of Leicestershiremarker, Englandmarker. It is to the northeast of Leicestermarker, and southeast of Nottinghammarker. The town lies along the course of both the River Eyemarker and the River Wreakemarker and currently has a population of 25,554.

Known as the "Rural Capital of Food", Melton Mowbray is perhaps best known for its culinary specialities, being the home of the eponymous pork pie and one of the homes of Stilton cheese.



The name Melton comes from the early English word Medeltone - meaning 'Middletown surrounded by small hamlets' (and therefore has the same origin as places called Milton and Middleton). Mowbray is a Norman family name - the name of early Lords of the Manor - namely Robert de Mowbray.

Early history

In and around Melton, there are 28 scheduled ancient monuments, around 705 buildings listed as having special architectural or historical interest, 16 sites of special scientific interest, and at least 12 deserted village sites.

There is industrial archaeology including the Grantham Canalmarker and the remains of the Melton Mowbray Navigationmarker. Windmill sites, ironstone working and smelting archeological evidence suggest that Melton borough was densely populated in Bronze and Iron Ages. Many small village communities existed and strategic points at Burrough Hillmarker and Belvoirmarker were fortified. There is also evidence to suggest that the site of Melton Mowbray in the Wreake Valley was inhabited before Roman occupation (43A.D).

Roman times

In Roman times, due to the close proximity of the Fosse Way and other important Roman roads, military centres were set up at Leicester and Lincoln; and intermediate camps were also established, for example, Six Hills on the Fosse Way. Other Roman track ways in the locality passed north of Melton along the top of the vale of Belvoir scarp; they linked Market Harboroughmarker to Belvoir, and linked the Fosse Way to Oakhammarker and Stamfordmarker.


Evidence of settlement throughout Saxon and Danelawmarker period (8th/9th centuries) is reflected in many place names.Along the Wreake Valley, the Danish suffix "by" is common, as is evident in Asfordby, Dalby, Frisby, Hoby, Rearsby and Gaddesby. In addition, a cemetery of 50-60 graves, of Pagan Saxon origin, was found in Melton Mowbray. Although most villages and their churches, had origins before the Norman Conquest of 1066, stone crosses at Asfordby and Sproxton churches and Anglo-Saxon cemeteries as found at Goadby Marwood, Sysonby and Stapleford, are certainly pre-Conquest.

Post conquest

The effects of the Norman conquest are recorded in the 1086 Domesday book. This document indicates that settlements at Long Clawsonmarker and Bottesfordmarker were of noteworthy size; and that Melton Mowbray was a thriving market town of some 200 inhabitants, with weekly markets, two water mills and two priests. The water mills, still in use up to the 18th century, are remembered by the present names of Beckmill Court and Mill Street.

Melton Mowbray has been a market town for over 1,000 years. Recorded as Leicestershire's only market in the 1086 Domesday Survey, it is the third oldest market in England. Tuesday has been market day ever since royal approval was given in 1324. The market was established with tolls before 1077.

Legacies from the Medieval period include consolidation of village and market town patterns; in Melton Mowbray, Bottesford, Wymondham, and Waltham-on-the-Wolds. The latter had a market in medieval times that continued until 1921, and an annual fair of horses and cattle. Many buildings in Melton Market Place, Nottingham Street, Church Lane, King Street and Sherrard Street have ancient foundations. Alterations to number 16 Church Street revealed a medieval circular stone wall subjected to considerable heat. This is probably the `Manor Oven' mentioned in 13th century documents. Surveys of 5 King Street show it to be part of an early medieval open-halled house. It may be part of the castle or fortified Manor of the Mowbrays, which existed in the 14th century.

King Richard and King John visited the town and may have stayed at an earlier castle. In 1549 following the Dissolution of the chantries, monasteries and religious guilds, church plate was sold and land purchased for the town. Resulting rents were used to maintain Melton School; first recorded in 1347 and one of the oldest educational establishments in Britain. Funds were also used to maintain roads, bridges and to repair the church clock.

Civil War

During the English Civil War, Melton was a Roundhead garrison commanded by a Colonel Rossiter. Two battles were fought in the town: in November, 1643, Royalists caught the garrison unaware and carried away prisoners and booty; in February, 1645, Sir Marmaduke Langdale, commanding a Royalist force of 1,500 men, inflicted severe losses on the Roundheads. Around 300 men were said to have been killed. According to legend a hillside where the battle was thought to have been fought was ankle deep in blood, hence the name 'Ankle Hill'. However, this name is mentioned in documents pre-dating the Civil War. Furthermore, in the past, the names of Dalby Road and Ankle Hill have been switched around, thus confusing the true site of the battle.

Local notable families seem to have had divided loyalties, although the War ended with great rejoicings outside the "Limes" in Sherrard Street, home of Sir Henry Hudson. His father, Robert Hudson founded the "Maison Dieu" almshouses opposite the Church in 1640, which complement the stone built "Anne of Cleves House" opposite. This was built in 1384 and housed chantry priests until the Dissolution. It was then included in the estates of Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII, as a divorce settlement in the 16th century, although there is local debate about whether she ever stayed there or not. Anne of Cleves' house is now a public house which is owned by Everards Brewery, a Leicester-based brewery.

Pork pies and Stilton cheese

The round corner of a blue Stilton cheese, made in the traditional cylindrical shape.
Dickinson and Morris Pie Shop
Stilton cheese originated near Melton Mowbray, and is still made in the town today. Stilton cheese takes its name from the village of Stilton, 80 miles north of London, where it was marketed to travellers on the Great North Roadmarker, though no Stilton was ever made there.

Although supermarkets routinely carry pork pies with the label "Melton Mowbray", there is in fact a specific "hand-raising" process and recipe which marks a pie as a Melton Mowbray pork pie. In the centre of Melton, on Nottingham Street, there is a "ye olde pork pie shoppe" (Dickinsons & Morris) where one can buy true Melton pork pies. However these pork pies are not made in the shop, as some think, they are now made in a factory outside of town. On 4 April 2008 the European Union awarded the Melton Mowbray pork pie Protected Geographical Indication status, following a long-standing application made by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. As a result of this ruling only pies made within a designated zone around Melton, and using uncured pork, are allowed to carry the Melton Mowbray name on their packaging.

"Painting the town red"

The Fox Hunting crowd also left their mark on the town in a different way, through their "high jinks".

The phrase painting the town red is said to have originated in Melton back in 1837. Out celebrating a successful hunt, the Marquess of Waterford and his hunting party found several tins of red paint which they daubed liberally on to the buildings of the High Street, some traces of which can still be seen on doors of older buildings in the town.Other sources report the phrase originated in 1880s America. When persons from the red light district frequented other parts of the town, they were said to be 'painting the town red' by bringing their questionable activities and therefore associated colour with them. The earliest known printed record can be found in the New York Times from July 1883; used by the drunken Democrats in Newark. There are other references dating from around this time and they all are either from America or describe events in America.There is also a picture labelled "A Spree at Melton Mowbray." and subtitled "or doing the Thing in a Sporting-like manner". It is dated 1837, the same date as the Marquess' event. It appears to take place on what is now called Leicester Street and depicts men in hunting clothes climbing on Swan Porch (a building in the market place), fighting and a gentlemen apparently being robbed. There is no mention of any red paint. Of course this sort of thing may have been common in Melton Mowbray at this time and there is no evidence that the picture depicts the same events. What is certain is that the physical evidence appears to support the town was painted red. However this does not necessarily mean that the phrase came from the event.

The Melton Mowbray event was recorded as happening in the early hours of 6 April 1837. It was later recorded in the London Examiner. Henry Alken's pictures A Spree at Melton Mowbray and Larking at the Grantham Tollgate are said to illustrate the event.

They can be seen at and

The events were depicted in a play called The Meltonians at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1838.

Melton cloth

Melton Mowbray is home to Melton cloth (first mentioned in 1823), which is the familiar tight-woven woollen cloth which is heavily milled, and a nap raised so as to form a short, dense, non-lustrous pile. Sailors' pea coats are traditionally made of Melton cloth, the universal workmans' donkey jackets of Britain and Irelandmarker and in North America, loggers' "cruising jackets" and Mackinaw.


Melton shares a Member of Parliament (currently Alan Duncan from the Conservatives) with Rutlandmarker, which together form the appropriately named "Rutland and Meltonmarker" parliamentary constituency.

Melton Mowbray Town Estate

Melton Mowbray is home to a rare example of early town government. The Melton Mowbray Town Estate was founded at the time of the reformation, in 1549, when two townsfolk sold gold sequestered from the church and bought land to be held in trust for all inhabitants. The Town Estate provided early forms of education, the first street lighting, and today owns and operates the town's parks and sportsgrounds, and the town's market.


Melton Mowbray had only 1766 inhabitants in 1801, but in 1831 they had increased to 3327, in 1841 to 3740, in 1851 to 4434, and in 1861 to 4436.

The Melton Mowbray official web site's About page lists the current (2009) population of the city as 25,276, and that of Melton Borough as 46,861.


Prior to 1960, the Production Engineering Research Association of Great Britain ( PERA) came to the town on Nottingham Road and employed around four hundred people in supporting research and development in industry. It is also home to the East Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service.

In 2000, the East Midlands Regional Assembly ( EMRA) was based in a building also on Nottingham Road.

Petfoods came to the town in 1951 as Chappie Ltd, employing over two thousand people, and now employs around one thousand. It became Petfoods in 1957, and became Masterfoods in January 2002. At Melton, it makes four million items of petfood every day, which is less than it used to. Masterfoods now have their UK headquarters close to Melton at Waltham-on-the-Woldsmarker.


Parish church

See St. Mary's Church, Melton Mowbraymarker


[[Image:King Edward VII School - Melton Mowbray.JPG|thumb|250px|King Edward VII School, Melton Mowbray]]Melton's largest school is King Edward VIImarker with around 2,000 pupils, aged between 11 and 19. The school was founded in 1908. King Edward VII Upper School, also has the first school-based Eco-Centre and a large computer-based learning centre (ILIAD).


Melton railway stationmarker is on the line from Birminghammarker to Stansted Airportmarker via Leicestermarker, Peterboroughmarker and Cambridgemarker. Trains run hourly in either direction. The service is supplemented with additional trains in the peak on route to/from Nottinghammarker, Norwichmarker and Sleafordmarker. The station is managed by East Midlands Trains although most services are operated by CrossCountry. CrossCountry intend to enhance their service gradually to half-hourly on this route. Since early 2009 East Midlands Trains have offered a single daily journey from Melton Mowbray to London St Pancrasmarker and return. This is notable for being the first regular passenger service to cross the spectacular and historic Welland Viaductmarker since 1966.

Bus services operated by various companies also call at Melton Mowbray, providing access to Leicestermarker, Nottinghammarker, Oakhammarker and other regional centres as well as many of the surrounding villages.

Notable Meltonians


Speedway racing was staged at the Greyhound Stadium in Melton Mowbray in 1949. The cinder track was laid before and lifted after each meeting. The events, staged on a Sunday, fell foul of the Lord's Day Observance Society for a short time. The town is also home to one rugby club aptly named Melton Rugby club who compete in Midlands 3 East . The town has its own Sunday Football League in which some 15 teams compete every Sunday. Asfordby Hill is home to Holwell Sports who play in the Leicestershire Senior League premier division.


Melton Carnegie Museummarker is based in Melton Mowbray.


Image:MeltonNttmRdRH.jpg|Approaching the Market from Nottingham RoadImage:MeltonBabtist.JPG|Reused Baptist Chapel on Nottingham RoadImage:MeltonRegal.JPG|Popular Regal CinemaImage:MeltonChurchRH.JPG|St Mary's Church and the CrownImage:MeltonManchestersRH.JPG|Rear of the Tourist OfficesImage:StMaryMeltonRH.JPG|St Mary's ChurchImage:AnneMeltonRH.JPG|Anne of Cleves public houseImage:ColesHallMeltonRH.JPG|The former Colles Hall

See also


External links

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