Walk 56: Melton Mowbray Town Walk: Everyone loves a Pork Pie

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2 miles (3.22km)

Time to walk: It’s another of those town centre walks that can take either 30 minutes or half a day depending how many shops etc you wish to revisit (or how many pies you wish to eat!)

Difficulty: All on hard paths

Parking: We parked in the public car park near Egerton Lodge

Public toilets: Pubs, cafes etc

Map of the route: 

Map

We were working in Melton Mowbray & had a look to see if they had any walks. We found this little gem of a heritage trail

Promoted as the “Rural Capital of Food”, Melton Mowbray is perhaps best known for its culinary specialities, being the home of the eponymous pork pie & one of the five homes of Stilton cheese. The name Melton comes from the early English word Medeltone meaning ‘Middletown surrounded by small hamlets’. Mowbray is a Norman family name, “the name of early Lords of the Manor,” namely Robert de Mowbray

There’s been settlements here for many years including Roman times. What we’re more interested in though on this walk is what is this historic market town like today? If you’re visiting & want somewhere to stay we can recommend Scalford Hall which is a couple of miles away. Don’t expect luxury, but it’s comfortable & ex home of one of the Colman (Mustard) family

We photo’d this walk over 2 days so you may spot a few differences but we had the opportunity to be there on market day (Tuesday)

So…Let’s Walk!

1. We parked up in the public car park near Egerton Lodge although there are plenty of car parks around the town – all are  Pay & Display though. Walk past the Lodge into the gardens by the bridge which we think is a pretty good place to start this walk

IMG_6919

The large house behind us is Egerton Lodge which was built in 1929 for Earl Wilton. It was originally used as a hunting lodge . Melton Mowbray was known as the capital of hunts as it allowed visitors to partake in three: the Belvoir, Cottesmore & Quorn

IMG_6921

IMG_6924

There’s a door with some history at this place…

IMG_6922

The trap in the door was where bread was doled out to the poor – love places that preserve their history

2. Cross over the very busy road into the High Street…

IMG_6925

There’s some interesting properties along here, firstly the White House (no not the Washington one)

IMG_6927

This house was built in the 1600s & is one of the oldest properties on the street. Almost next door is HSBC which in the 19th century was the New Club where Lord Alvanley lived & where you could get one of the best hunters dinner in the land!

IMG_6928

3. Tuesday is market day in Melton Mowbray & what a fabulous market it is! The George Hotel on the left’s the oldest surviving coaching inn in Melton. Here you could rent a coach & horse. The future Queen Victoria visited The George to change horses on her way to Stamford from Belvoir Castle

IMG_6930

Keep walking towards the Corn Cross – oh suddenly there’s the most fabulous market – where did that come from, it wasn’t there yesterday!

IMG_7045

The current Corn Cross was built in 1996 so it’s quite new! It replaced an a medieval cross in the area that was once called Cornhill where traders bought & sold corn. There’s plaques attached to it remembering both people & animals that have been trained in Melton since 1903. If you want to know more visit the Melton Carnegie Museum to see items for the Defence Animal Centre

4. Now this is what we really love….a market that sells everything & anything. It reminds us of our holidays in France & why can’t every town in the UK be like Melton

IMG_7052

IMG_7050

The Melton Market’s been held every Tuesday for the past 1000 years & it’s fab! Our walk is structured but, if you’re there on a Tuesday just have a wander

IMG_7048

IMG_7049

5. At the Cross turn left into Nottingham Street because it’s Pork Pie time!

IMG_7048

Here’s the place to buy one…

IMG_6937

Dickinsons & Morris‘ pork pies are simply awesome, but you need to ask for the ones that have been baked that day – not cheap at around £4.50 but amazing!

pie

The business was founded by John Dickinson in 1851. In 1886 Joseph Morris joined the business as an apprentice & in 1901 the company changed its name to Dickinson & Morris

The bakery & retail outlet, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, is a tourist destination & key landmark in both Melton Mowbray & the UK. In March 1992, after fire had devastated the period style building, Samworth Brothers bought the property & carried out extensive refurbishment & renovation in conjunction with English Heritage

Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe reopened in October of that year.

6. Almost next door’s another fabulous building..The Corn Exchange built in 1854

IMG_6939

Go inside & have a wander as there’s plenty of individual shops & cafes…

IMG_6941

7. Back outside carry on towards the junction. There’s some great shop signs along here…

IMG_6942

…& if you fancy a coffee then why not…

IMG_6943

…or if it’s early in the morning & you’re feeling like a Caveman then there’s only one place to go…

IMG_6946

They occasionally have ‘The Caveman Challenge…

“Do you think you have what it takes to conquer the caveman breakfast challenge???
9 Sausages, 6 rashers of Bacon, 6 Eggs, 6 Hash Browns, Saute Potatoes, Mushrooms, Beans, Tomatoes, 3 Fried bread, 3 Toast, a pint & a half of tea or coffee..
Three Cavemen breakfasts on a one plate special.. If you finish all 3 we will refund your costs of the meals and also give you free pudding… £19.00″

Pudding…how the hell could you eat pudding after that lot?

8. At the junction turn right & walk along past what looks like an old courthouse…

IMG_6949

…& then first right again into St Mary’s Way…

IMG_6951

This area was originally known as King Street Cemetery. On the left they’ve lined up the old gravestones in what’s quite a pleasant, peaceful little park

IMG_6952

9. Pass all the bus stops & the very large pub on the left to arrive at the junction with King Street. Now this is a very interesting junction with plenty to see. Firstly on the right’s the Medieval Manor House which is one of the oldest buildings in the town & was lived in by the Mowbray family

IMG_6957

IMG_6958

Now turn left to find a real art deco treat…the Regal Cinema

IMG_6959

What a beautiful building – built in art deco style in 1934 by local builder, Denman’s, it was fitted with a CinemaScope screen in the 1950s which required a curved screen for widescreen projection

IMG_6960

Turn back again to find a cracking little cafe…Nigel’s Coffee Shop. You’ve just got to love the signage. “The home of great coffee & pork pie special meal” & “So guess who went to Melton Mowbray & ate all the pies”

IMG_6961

10. Turn right & walk down King Street. You know what? For some reason this place reminds us of a very early Carnaby Street, especially the sign at the end (note the market’s disappeared again)

IMG_6963

The art design on the wall on the left’s fantastic – shame the shadows were creeping in for our photo

IMG_6965

11. Passing under the arch we arrive in the Market Place &, if by magic, that market’s appeared again!

IMG_7048

Melton is a Market Town & really goes out to promote itself as such. Street markets are held at least three times a week in the centre of of town. There is a general market every Saturday & Tuesday & a bric-a-brac one every Wednesday. Special markets (selling things like craft items, antiques & international foods) are held two or three times a year. We have to say there was a real variety of stalls & it’s well supported by the local folk

 IMG_7050

Not only is the Street Market good, Melton also has a thriving livestock market plus holds regular Farmers’ Markets & antique ones too

IMG_7052

12. Walk directly across from where we exited King Street to arrive at the Buttercross…

IMG_7045

This Buttercross was built from parts of the existing cross in 1986. During the civil war, 158 marriages took place at the Cross as in 1653 Parliament had declared marriage a civil ceremony carried out with a Justice of the Peace present

13. Cross over the street & turn right towards Boots the Chemist. The name of the shop below made us smile…

IMG_6970

At The Grapes pub turn left into Church Street…

IMG_6975

IMG_6977

…where at the end we arrive at the magnificent & imposing St Mary’s Church

IMG_6981

14. St Mary’s Church is the largest & “stateliest” parish church in Leicestershire with remains dating mainly from the 13th-15th centuries. The stonework in the lowest section of the tower, which has Norman windows, dates from 1170, although there were certainly one or more Anglo-Saxon churches on this site before the Norman one. It’s built on a plan more usual for cathedrals & the 100-foot tower dominates the town & is a rare example of a parish church with aisled transepts, (one of only five in the country) a feature usually found only in a cathedral. It contains a number of notable monuments including the tomb of Roger de Mowbray, 1st Baron Mowbray & others dating from the 14th to the 18th century

IMG_6982

It really is a huge church &…is open so let’s go have a look inside

15. The Church has ‘Guides’ inside it who are keen to help, but we’re a kinda “give us a leaflet & let us have a stroll & we’ll ask any questions we need to.” Having said that it is stunning so here’s a few snaps…

IMG_6985

IMG_6990

IMG_6991

16. Exit through the door we came in, turn right & then right again alongside this fab building…

IMG_7003

…to exit along lovely Burton Street. Directly over the road’s Colles Hall which was built in 1890 to celebrate Dr Colles, vicar of St Mary’s. As President of the Melton Temperance Society he didn’t approve of drinking & bought the pub next door to turn into a private house – he wouldn’t be popular on this blog!

IMG_7006

17. Turn right & walk down Burton Street. Over the road’s Bede House…

IMG_7007

With the inscription ‘Maison de Dieu 1640’ above its door, this house was built by Robert Hudson, who was born in Melton & was a prominent haberdasher in London. They are almshouses which provided accommodation for ‘six poor old bachelors or widows’. Rev. Henry Storer increased this to twelve in 1720 & in 1827 Storer’s Almshouse was built on Rutland Street now sadly demolished

From 1847 there was a museum upstairs in the Bede House which contained …’a fine collection of shells & various objects of interest’

18. Next up on the side we’re walking down is The Anne of Cleves hostelry…

IMG_6998

IMG_6999

Originally built as a dwelling house for parsons in Melton, in the 15th Century & early 16th, it was used as a chantry priests’ house

In 1539 Henty VIII began the violent destruction of England’s monasteries & the start of this country’s break with Rome. Now it was King Henry who owned Church properties, & he gave them to his chancellor Thomas Cromwell. It’s thought Cromwell lived briefly in Anne of Cleves house around 1540 as the Blue Plaque suggests

IMG_7000

It was now that Cromwell made a fateful suggestion to the King. On the death of Jane Seymour, he suggested to Henry that a certain princess at Flanders might be an appropriate fourth wife. Her name was Anne of Cleves. Henry had not actually seen her in the flesh, relying on the evidence of a portrait of her by Holbein. The famous painter obviously flattered Anne, because she was no beauty, & Henry instantly disliked her, referring to her as ‘a great Flanders mare’ The marriage lasted only six months & it’s thought Henry never slept with Anne at all

The matter also sealed Cromwell’s fate, the former King’s favourite was stripped of his estates (including our Cleves House) & position & was executed in 1541. It was now that the house ceased to be a Church building & became a private house. Anne agreed to a divorce & the King granted her properties & the title Lady Anne. This house was one of those granted & from then it was known as  ‘Anne of Cleves House’

IMG_7001

It is thought Henry visited Melton at this time to view the property before he gave them to Anne. It’s doubtful she ever lived in Melton, although she may have visited. All in all considering what happened to many church buildings & too many of Henry VIII’s wives, it could be said that both Anne & the house got off lightly

19. Burton Street begins to open up as it approaches the station…

IMG_7009

Further down the road next to the Boat Inn, so named as it stood by the former canal basin in this area, is Cardigan House

IMG_7010

It’s named after the Earl of Cardigan who lived here during the nineteenth century. He’s famous for leading the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. The charge head-on with deadly artillery was due to a miscommunication on the battlefield, but Lord Cardigan fortunately managed to reach the Russian guns & returned from the charge unharmed

20. Cross over the busy road down Mucky Lane towards the entrance into the park known as Play Close

IMG_7014

In 1848, the townspeople of Melton used Play Close for shows, recreation & stalls at fair time. With Lord Melbourne’s agents allowing pig stys & other buildings on the adjoining land, many of the townsfolk thought this was an enfringement of their ancient rights. The buildings were pulled down in what subsequently has been referred to as the ‘Play Close Riots’

IMG_7018

Shortly afterwards, in 1850 the Play Close was purchased by Messrs. T. Ward & W.T. Tuxford, serving members of the Town Estate, they bought the Play Close on the understanding that they would sell it on to the town when the funds became available

The Town Estate purchased the play close in 1866 for £170 later enlarging it in 1872 & 1886 respectively to the area it is today

21. In the late afternoon low sun it’s a lovely place for a stroll…

The view back towards the church

The view back towards the church

Continue along the path until coming across some old ‘land-locked’ lock gates…

IMG_7023

The canal followed the treelined path up to the lock gates & made transporting coal to Melton much easier, carrying 17,770 tons annually at its peak. It closed in 1876 after the railway came to Melton

22. At the bridge turn right & follow the path alongside the water…

IMG_7024

 

IMG_7031

This is another very nice stretch so pass the bridge & then at the hut take the left fork…

IMG_7034

There’s some more beautiful old trees along this path

IMG_7036

23. At the end we arrive back at Lady Wilton Bridge where we started our walk. There have been several bridges over the River Eye, including the ‘Kettilbye Brigge’ from the sixteenth century & a later one funded by the Harborough family. The Lady Wilton Bridge was built in 1822

IMG_7039

24. Exit the park via the main gates & turn left towards the junction…

IMG_7040

IMG_7042 Across the road we spied an interesting archway which dates from around 1480 & is all that survives of the Manor property of The Order of St John of Jerusalem in the town which formerly stood in Spital End, now known as Nottingham Street

IMG_7043

So that’s the end of our look around Melton Mowbray. We weren’t sure what we’d find, but it’s like taking a little step back in time. The people are friendly & fiercely protective of their town. The main bit of advice we would give you is make sure you visit on a market day as that’s when the place really comes to life

Go Walk!