MELTON CONSTABLE with BURGH PARVA (St. Peter), is a village and civil parish in the hundred of Holt. It covers an area of 6.96 km2 (2.69 sq mi) and had a population of 518 in 225 households as of the 2001 census. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the Erpingham district in the Northern division of Norfolk.
The village sits on fairly high ground 5½-6 miles (S. W. by S.) from Holt, 8 miles east-north-east from Fakenham, 12 from North Walsham and 6 miles NE of Ryburgh railway junction station on the Eastern and Midlands railway to Lynn, Fakenham, Norwich, Yarmouth and Holt;
75 inhabitants and includes the hamlet or quondam parish of Burgh-Parva. The Post town is Briston under Thetford.
This place is of great antiquity, and at the time of the Domesday survey was granted by the William the Conqueror to the bishops of Thetford, of whom it was held by Roger de Lyons, whose descendants assumed the name of Mealton, with sometimes affix de Constable, in allusion to the office which they held under the see.
BURGH PARVA has ever been attached to Melton Constable. The church of St Peter is a small ancient building in mixed styles, and consists of chancel, nave, south transept and low square central Norman tower and porch: the east window is stained; the subject is the Crucifixion.. The church of Burgh Parva in the rural deanery of Holt and archdeaconry and diocese of Norwich is in ruins: the square tower and portions of the wall alone are standing.
The registers date from the year 1551 for Melton Constable and 1559 for Burgh Parva. The living is a rectory, with that of Burgh Parva, joint yearly value £219, in the gift of Lord hastings and held since 1855 by the Rev. Charles Norris B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge, who resides at Briston.
The parish comprises 1741a. 2r. 7p., whereof 822 acres are arable, 560 meadow and pasture, and about 370 woodland; the soil is generally a sandy loam.
The manor consisted of 19 Houses with 2,710 Acres Real property and a Population of 118.
Melton passed to Sir Thomas Astley in the year 1235 by marriage to Editha, sister and heiress of Geoffrey de Constable, and since that date has been the seat of the Astleys, now Barons Hastings.
Melton Hall, the princely seat of Lord Hastings, is a handsome square building of brick and sstone with four fronts. The interior of which, together with the chapel, is highly finished: there is a fine collection of valuable paintings: it stands in an extensive and well-wooded park, which is stocked with red and fallow deer: this was the second park in England where the red deer was introduced.
Lord Hastings is lord of the manor and sole landowner. The soil is light; subsoil, clay. The chief crops are wheat, turnips, barley and grass. The area is 2,710 acres; rateable value, £2,410; the population in 1881 was 118.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Melton Constable as:
MELTON-CONSTABLE, a parish in Erpingham district, Norfolk; 5½ miles SW by S of Holt, and 6 NE of Ryburgh r. station. It includes the hamlet or quondam parish of Burgh-Parva; and its Post town is Briston, under Thetford. Acres, 2,710. Real property, £2,429. Pop., 118. Houses, 19. The property belongs to Lord Hastings. The manor was given, by William the Conqueror, to the Bishop of Thetford; was held, under the Bishop, by Roger de Lyons; continued to be held by his descendants, who assumed the name of Mealton, with sometimes the affix of.De Constable, in allusion to their office under the Bishop; and passed, several centuries ago, to the Astleys. …
The office of the constable was introduced in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was responsible for the keeping and maintenance of the king’s armaments and those of the villages as a measure of protecting individual settlements throughout the country.
Melton Constable was granted by the Norman Conqueror to William de Beaufo, Bishop of Thetford, and was held by Roger de Lyons as a lay fee. The latter’s descendants assumed the name of Mealton and sometimes signed themselves ‘de Constable’, an office they held under the Bishop.
The Astley Family:
In 1235, Editha, daughter of Peter de Constable, and sister and heiress to Geoffrey de Constable, married Sir Thomas de Estley, and the association of the Astley family – with both Melton Constable and Burgh Parva, which exists to this day, began.
Hereford Manor (aka: Melton Hall)
Belonged very early to Roger de Melton Parva, and Muriel his wife, about 1180, and after to Roger his son, and Roger his grandson, who sold to Master Vincent de Bek, all his lay fee and freehold, which he and his father held of Will. son of Jeffry of Great Melton, in order to enable him to go in pilgrimage to the Holy-Land, having settled on Emma his wife the land late Rob. de Melton’s, his kinsman, near the land of William the parson of Little Melton.
Robert son of Roger de Melton