|Melton Constable lies six miles south-west of
Melton Constable Sign
Melton Constable is
undoubtedly one of the strangest villages in Norfolk.
Approached from Briston, you drive along the main street and
notice the huge number of terraced houses - giving you
the impression that you've magically crossed into
Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire. The reason for the houses is that
Melton Constable was originally a busy railway town at
the hub of an important rail network. Lines converged
here from King's Lynn,
Yarmouth, Norwich and Cromer. The lines were designed by
W. Marriott. Melton station was begun in 1881 and repair
sheds, marshalling yards and houses for the railway
workers soon followed. However, by the middle of the 20th century, the
lines began to close - with the Cromer line being the last to
go. Today Melton has no railway - but its history is
commemorated in the village sign.
Melton Constable Hall - once the home of the Astley
family (for seven centuries) - was built c.1670. It is located
in extensive parkland and was one of the oldest enclosures in England
(1290). Here is an illustration of the
hall in its heyday. (It's hard to photograph because
it's set a long way back from the main road.)
The hall was used as the principal
location for Brandham Hall in Joseph Losey's 1970 film of
The film, which was based on the novel of the same name
by L.P. Hartley, starred Julie Christie and Alan Bates
as the doomed lovers. The screen play was written by
Harold Pinter. The film makes great use of the house,
the parkland and the surrounding countryside and, even
today, portrays the beauty of the county in summer time.
Sadly, the hall is now derelict.
The tower of Melton
Constable church also features in one of the scenes
where Ted Burgess is working on the land.
Melton Constable Church
The church contains a number of memorials to the Astley
family. Sir Jacob Astley, the Royalist commander, is
famous for his prayer on the battlefield at
Edgehill: 'O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this
day; if I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me.'