Melton Constable Hall
Melton Constable Hall is regarded as the finest specimen of the Christopher Wren style of house. The house was re-modelled and extended by Sir Jacob Astley between 1664 and 1670. It has some fine plaster ceilings dated 1687, probably fashioned by Edward Goudge. The core of the house is Elizabethan.
Between the church and the hall there stands a tower known as Belle Vue, which has a view of Norwich and the sea.
Belle Vue is in fact in Briningham, some 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Hall and not between the Hall and the church in Melton Park, although it could just be described as between the Hall and St. Peter's Church in Swanton Novers. It was a smock-mill that was built by Sir Jacob Astley, 1st Baronet, of Melton Constable Hall in 1721. The mill was not much used. Sir Edward Astley, the 4th Baronet, replaced the wooden tower with a brick one c. 1775. The new tower was built over the existing three-storey brick, octagonal base, is the only one of its type in the county and is the oldest base in the county. It fell into dereliction and remains on the English Heritage at Risk register, as do a number of outbuildings on the estate. The following were listed as at Risk as of April 2010 - Melton Constable Hall, Melton Constable Hall stable court west and north wings, Melton Constable Hall Terraces, The Bath House Melton Constable Park, and The Teahouse Melton Constable Park.
The village of Seaton Sluice in Northumberland has public houses called The Astley Arms and The Melton Constable, a legacy of a marriage in Georgian times which united the Astley family with the Delaval family of the nearby Seaton Delaval Hall.
Melton Constable Park was designed by Capability Brown in 1764–69; it has a church, a temple and various artistic follies. The church, which is small and unusual, nestles under trees (yews, firs and oaks) and can be reached by a drive lined with rhododendrons. It contains Norman work and many memorials to the Astley family who bear the title Lord Hastings. Sir Jacob Astley fought in the English Civil War and his prayer is still quoted by many: "Lord, I shall be very busy this day. I may forget Thee but do Thou not forget me".
Over the years some local people have been concerned about the state of the hall and its surrounding buildings. Parts of it are now very run-down. An article in the local newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press, had some details of the condition it is in and gave information about the business dealings of the owner.
- "Heritage At Risk". English Heritage. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
- Hewison, Christian H., From Shedmaster to the Railway Inspectorate, David & Charles, 1981, p.68
- "The Go Between". Archive Alive. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- "What does future hold for historic hall?". EDP24. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2013.