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Norfolk: Melton Constable

William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1883

[Transcription copyright © Juanita Hadwin]

MELTON CONSTABLE-WITH-BURGH-PARVA forms a fertile parish in Walsingham union, Holt county court district, and petty sessional division, Hindringham polling district of North Norfolk, Norwich bankruptcy district, Holt hundred, Holt rural deanery, and Norwich archdeaconry. It extends from 4½ to 6 miles S.W. by S. of Holt, and 6½ miles E.N.E. of Fakenham, and had 118 inhabitants in 1881, living on 2710 acres; the rateable value is £2806.

Melton Constable has a station on the Eastern Midlands Railway, and since the establishment of the 'plant' or railway works, covering an area of 14 acres, the parish has greatly improved. About 800 acres of Melton Constable are in the park and woods which encompass the handsome mansion of Lord Hastings, the owner of the parish and lord of the manor, which has been held by his family for many centuries. It was granted by the Norman Conquerer to the Bishop of Thetford, of whom it was held by Roger de Lyons, whose descendants assumed the name of Mealton, and sometimes signed themselves De Constable, from the office which they held under the bishop.

The mansion, which has long been the seat of the Astleys, was erected or rebuilt by Sir Jacob Astley, in 1680; but has since undergone many additions and alterations. It is a noble square buildings of brick and stone, with four fronts, and the chapel, grand staircase, and many of the apartments, ceilings, &c., are highly finished. The paintings are numerous and valuable. The park, four miles in circuit, is well stocked with deer, and has been greatly improved during the present century, by plantations and other embellishments. The porters' lodges, and a tower called Belle-Vue, are seen to great advantage in various directions; and the latter contains several elegantly furnished apartments, commanding an extensive prospect of the adjacent country and the ocean, though distant more than ten miles from the coast. The present Lord Hastings has erected extensive paddocks in the park for breeding of thoroughbred horses.

The CHURCH (St. Peter) stands half a mile from the house, and comprises nave, chancel, south porch, chapel, and low square tower between the nave and chancel, containing one bell. The south chapel, with the vault beneath it, was built by Sir Jacob Astley in 1681. The east window is filled with beautiful stained glass, representing the Crucifixion, inserted by Miss Blanch Astley, in memory of her brother, Lord Hastings, who died in 1859. The Register dates from 1561.

The rectory, valued in the King's Book at £6, is now worth £242, with that of Burgh Parva annexed, having been augmented in 1722-3 with £200 given by Sir Jacob Astley, and £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty, invested in land at Briston. It is in the patronage of Lord Hastings, and incumbency of the Rev. Charles Norris, B.A., who has here 35 acres of glebe, and is also vicar of Briston, where he resides.

A small House of Industry was erected here many years ago, under Gilbert's Act, for the parishes of Melton Constable and Brinton, which are still incorporated and unconnected with any union; but it is now occupied by labourers, as there are seldom any poor chargeable to these parishes.

The Astleys derived their name from a manor in Warwickshire. Thomas Lord Astley, who married the sister and co-heiress of Sir Robert Constable, was the great ancestor of this family, and was killed at the battle of Evesham, in 1264. Sir Jacob Astley, who died in 1651, was created Baron Astley of Reading, by Charles I., and was one of the first and last in the service of that monarch; but was totally defeated, with the remnant of the royal army, at Stowe, in 1645. This peerage became extinct on the death of the third Lord Astley, in 1688; but the baronetcy, created in 1660, still remains.

Sir Jacob Henry Astley, the late baronet, who died in 1817, was many years M.P. for Norfolk; and his son, the first Lord Hastings, was for some years one of the representatives of the Western Division of the county; but in 1841 he succeeded to the ancient Barony of Hastings, which was created by writ in 1289. His grandmother was eldest sister of the last Lord Delaval, whose valuable estate of Seaton-Delaval, Northumberland, passed to him in 1818. The present nobleman, George Manners Astley, was born in 1857, and succeeded to the title in 1875. He married, 1880, Elizabeth, daughter of fifth Lord Suffield.

BURGH PARVA, 4 miles S.S.W. of Holt, is a decayed parish, which, from time immemorial, has been united with Melton Constable. It contains only Burgh Hall, and 400 acres of land belonging to Lord Hastings, and occupied by Mr. Josiah Christmas. The CHURCH was dilapidated many centuries ago; but the tower and part of the walls of the nave and chancel still remain near the Hall.


POST, East Dereham.

	BASS       Henry               stationmaster
	BECK       Edward W.           agent, The Dairy
	CHRISTMAS  Josiah              farmer; Burgh Hall; and London
	CODLING    Henry               vict. Hasting Arms Hotel; and proprietor
	                                 of refreshment-rooms, Railway station
	HASTINGS   Lord, J.P. (Lieut.  Melton hall; and 22 Bruton street,
	             P.W.O.A.M.)         London, W
	MANN       James Waddington    railway locomotive superintendent
	ROWEL L    John                railway foreman
	SHINGLER   --                  head gardener
	SLATER     Charles             stud groom
	VINTER                         coal merchants
	  & COOKE
	WESTON     Thos. Jas.          railway goods agent
	WRIGHT     William             head gamekeeper
RAILWAY STATION -- Eastern & Midlands Railway (Lynn & Fakenham); Henry Bass, stationmaster


POST from East Dereham.

	CHRISTMAS  Josiah              farm steward

See also the Melton Constable parish page.

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Copyright © Pat Newby.
May 2000