Norman (1066–1154)

1066. When William the Conqueror conquered Britain he placed his Norman nobles in positions of authority across the country. The Domesday book was a detailed record of the taxable interests of his new country. From this we find that Melton Mowbray or Medeltune, as it was called, in the Franeland Wapentake (Framland Hundred) was held by the Norman Lord, Goisfridi de Wirce (Geoffrey de Wirce). There were two mills, one at Beck Mill Holm and the other at Corn Mill Holm, just off the Saxby Road where the
Scalford Brook meets the River Eye.

In the Domesday Book Melton had a population of 300 including 2 priests which suggests a church of some kind, and a market. The earliest written record of which is in 1077 when Geoffrey de Wirce sents the tithes of the market to the Abbey of St. Nicholas of Anjou in Normandy, his home town. The market crosses, positioned throughout the town, marked the gathering points for selling farm produce. Sheep at the Sheep Cross, probably somewhere near the bottom of Scalford Road. Corn and other cereal crops at the corn Cross, and butter and cheese at the Butter Cross, both of which have been replaced in recent years. Herbs and vegetables were sold at the Sage Cross, and near it cattle at the beast market along what is now Sherrard Street.

1135-54. The big problem with recording the Norman history of Melton Mowbray is that there is nothing physical left of it, not any pictorial representations. So we do not know what the early church looked like, though we can guess a little from the singing gargoyles at St. James Burton Lazars and other Norman church buildings. The same problem occurs with the castle, or more likely fortified manor house, which was built at about this date somewhere along King Street, probably in the area of the cinema. The property at 5 King Street has been renovated and its roof beams and octagonal crown post are now visible as they were when it was part of the moot hall of the castle.

1135-79. Roger de Mowbray took over the Lordship of Melton Mowbray and during this time he was responsible for founding and endowing many religious houses. These included a chapel and religious house for the Order of St. Joseph at Spittal End and for the Knights Templar at Rothley and Old Dalby. In 1140 a large farm house or grange at Welby, then the largest of the hamlets around Melton, was given to some monks as a monastery.

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