MELTON CONSTABLE is a composite parish with an important junction station on the Midland and Great Northern joint railway of the lines to Lynn, Norwich, Yarmouth and Cromer, 9 miles east-north-east from Fakenham, 6 south-west from Holt and about 120 from London, in the Northern division of the county, hundred and county court district of Holt, Walsingham union, rural deanery of Holt and archdeaconry and diocese of Norwich. The civil parish comprises the two parishes of Melton Constable and Burgh Parva, the greater part being in Melton Constable. Burgh Parva was merged with Melton Constable in 1688 consequent on the destruction of its church in the Cromwellian period and was again separated for ecclesiastical purposes only in 1909. The church of St. Peter, the parish church of Melton Constable, stands in the park and is a small but very ancient building, consecrated 1092, built of Hunstanton stone in mixed styles, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts and a low central Norman tower containing one bell: the church was completely restored in 1885 at the sole expense of Sir George Astley, 20th Lord Hastings, at which time it was fitted with good carved oak benches, lectern, choir stalls and a fine organ: an oak reredos with a triptych painting by Murillo was erected in 1903 and an oak pulpit added in 1911: the family chapel or pew of Lord Hastings, erected in 1681, contains many fine monuments and is adorned with shields of arms showing the lineage and marriages of the Astleys from the thirteenth century: there are other monuments to various members of the Astley family and in 1921 a fine tablet of alabaster and marble was erected to the memory of those parishioners who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-18: the church affords 100 sittings. The register dates from the year 1551. The living is a rectory, with that of Swanton Novers annexed, joint net yearly value £380, including 19 acres of glebae in Melton Constable and 13 acres in Wanton Novels, in the gift of Lord Hastings, and held since 1937 by the Rev. Sidney Ernest Arthur Miller M.A. of Edinburgh University, who resides at Swanton Novers. Melton Constable Hall, the seat of Lord Hastings, is a rectangular mansion of fine architectural proportions built of red brick and stone and completed in 1670, two wings and an entrance portico having been added in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is the third residence of the family to have been erected on approximately the same site; the house is surrounded by elegant terraces and ornamental grounds and is situated in a well-timbered park with a large lake; this park is one of the most ancient in the country, the charter for its enclosure being dated 1290; it comprises about 900 acres, part of which is stocked with red and other deer. The various apartments in the hall contain an extensive art collection and are notable for their fine ceilings. Melton was granted by the Norman Conqueror to the Bishop of Thetford, of whom it was held by Roger de Lyons, whose descendants took the name of De Constable, from the office which they held under the Bishop: By marriage with Editha, sister and heiress of Geoffrey de Constable, Melon passed to Sir Thomas Astley in the year 1235. And since that date has been the seat of the Astleys, now Barons Hastings. The stud farm is celebrated as the birth place of the Derby winner "Melton," and the Home farm for its herd of red poll cattle and other pedigree stock. In the ecclesiastical parish of Melton Constable Lord Hastings is lord of the manor and sole landowner. The soil is mixed; subsoil, partly gravel, partly clay; the chief crops are oats, barley, turnips and grass. The area is 1,722 acres; the population in 1931 was 900.
Post, M.O., T. & T. E. D. Office. For inhabitants of the ecclesiastical parish letters should be addressed Melton Constable Park, Melton Constable, Norfolk.
BURGH PARVA, a small parish which forms part of the civil parish of Melton Constable, is largely occupied by the modern township known as Melton Constable, The ancient church of St. Mary, Burgh Parva, sometimes called Melton Burgh, is in ruins, a temporary iron church having been erected for service until a permanent structure can be built. The register dates from the year 1557. The living is a rectory, annexed to Ma href="Briston.htm">Briston, in the gift of Lord Hastings, and held since 1928 by the Rev. Charles Edward Woode M.A. Of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who resides at Briston. Previous to 1885 this section of Melton Constable civil parish was very sparsely inhabited, and its present populous condition is due to the building of the railway in that year by the Eastern and Midland Company, whose property was later taken by the midland and Great Northern Joint Committee. As result of the extensive repairing shops and permanent way depot for the Midland and Great Northern Railway situated here the place developed in connection with the railway as to become an industrial centre of considerable importance; in 1936 the railway was taken over by the L. & N. E. Railway Co. And the works have been to a considerable extent curtailed. The Railway Institute, opened in 1896 and enlarged in 1912 for the use of the employees, comprises reading and billiards rooms, dining and coffee rooms, a library of 3,000 volumes, and a large hall for public meetings and entertainments. There is a recreation ground of nine acres leased by the Parish Council from Lord Hastings. Lord Hastings is lord of the manor and chief landowner. The soil is mixed; subsoil, clay.
Post, M.O., T. & T. E. D. Office (letters should be addressed Melton Constable, Norfolk)
Railway Station (Mid. & G. N. Joint) L. & N. E
The children of this place attend a Central school, erected in 1912, in the adjoining parish of Briston; Norman H. May, master; Arthur Q. Newman, correspondent
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Directory transcripts from White's 1845 and 1854 and Kelly's 1883; 1892; 1896; and 1904.
White's 1883 [GENUKI-NFK]
Melton Constable Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Church of St Mary, Burgh Parva [Simon Knott]
More on Melton Constable [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]