Post reformation

Melton history index

The Reformation

Either during the Reformation or during the Civil War, St Mary’s lost all its external statues and much of its glass. The town, at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries lost at least three religious houses: the chapel of St John of Jerusalem (probably sited near the current cattle market off Nottingham Road), the Monastery of Kirby Bellars and the Burton Lazars hospital – greatly reducing the facilities available to the poor of the area.


The Bede Houses on Burton Street.

The Bede Houses. (Click to enlarge.)

The Bede houses, in Burton Street, were endowed in 1638 by Robert Hudson (a native of Melton who made his wealth, in London, from haberdashery). The foundation set-up a hospital for poor bachelors or widowers – later increased by the Reverend Storer to provide, in addition, for six old ladies.

The Civil War

The local landowners were split – the Earl of Rutland, Haselrigg, Villiers, and Hartopp families were for the Parliamentarians rebels, while Sir John Pate, Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine and possibly Henry Hudson of Melton supported the royal cause. The Roundheads garrisoned Melton from 1642.

There were three engagements in the area: in the first Melton was seized from the Roundheads early on 28th November 1643. On 25th February 1645 there would seem to have been a battle once thought to be at Ankle Hill, won by the Royalists, with a small skirmish at Kirby Bellars. With the defeat of the Royalists at Naseby (in 1645), Colonel Rossiter made Melton his headquarters for the area for the Parliamentarians.

The Restoration

We have no information concerning the Hudsons (Lords of the Manor at this time), nor of the general population during these dramatic times. However Henry Hudson was knighted by Charles II, suggesting that he was an ardent royalist.

In St Mary’s Church, the Royal Arms, over the crossing arch, bears the cipher of King Charles II and dates from 1682 (overpainting one from 1634). Perhaps this indicates that Melton was prepared to follow the prevailing winds, as royalty was replaced by the Commonwealth – itself to give way to the restoration of royalty.

Next page: The Edwardian Period