During 850 years – 16 Kings and 2 Queens have visited Melton Mowbray
Melton Mowbray has been in existence for at least 1,500 years dating back to the Saxon period if not before. The town was important enough to have been a royal mint in the reigns of King Aethelred II (978-1016) and King Canute (1016-1035).
Eight hundred years ago in the 1100’s, the Great North Road from London to York and Edinburgh was diverted through Melton Mowbray which for over 300 years contributed significantly to Melton’s early prosperity. The Great North Road crossed the river to the South of the Town ran in front of the Church through the Market Place and North exiting Melton along King Street, presumably named after its royal visitors.
During these 300 years eleven out of the 15 Kings of England visited Melton Mowbray most choosing to stay overnight with the Lord of the Manor of Melton. The first King was Richard I, the Lionheart, in 1194 who was accompanied by King William of Scotland pleading unsuccessfully for the restoration of the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire to the Kingdom of Scotland.
Richard I was followed by Kings John, Henry III, Edwards I, II and III, Henry IV and VI, Richard III and finally Henry VII in 1487. The 4 kings not recorded formally as having visited Melton Mowbray are Richard II, Henry V, Edward IV and finally Edward V who reigned for only 2 months being murdered aged 12 years old in the Tower of London.
There is another royal connection in the Anne of Cleves pub. The plaque here informs that this former priory was given by Henry VIII to Thomas Cromwell after the Reformation. When Cromwell was executed for his bad advice in persuading the King to marry Anne of Cleves, she received the building in her divorce settlement. There is no record of the Queen ever having visited her pub!
It is not known if there were any other royal visits after Henry VI until some 300 years later when Melton became famous throughout Europe as the capital of fox hunting. Prince Regent later George IV visited Melton for the hunting season encouraged no doubt by his friend Beau Brummell who was a member of the Old Club on Burton Street in the Town.
For the last 200 years, with the exception of George V, every other monarch or future monarch since has visited the town; George IV, William IV, Victoria, Edward VII, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and finally Prince William. It during the Melton Hunt that Edward VIII met the American divorcée Mrs Wallace Simpson. They subsequently visited Melton together on a number of occasions, a liaison that eventually led to Edward’s abdication.
Other Royals and Aristocrats also visited Melton during the hunting season including the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Queen of Hungary in 1874, the Maharani of Jaipur, Lord Cardigan (Led ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’) and the Irish Peer the Marquis of Waterford; famous for his ‘Painting the Town Red’ escapade in Melton Mowbray in 1837.