Country Images Magazine North Edition November 2017 - Page 29

around Melbourne Hall At the far end of the yard, the Hall’s old kitchen block is now a cosy tea room, a far cry from the time when dishes had to be kept warm on their way to the comfort of the family dining room. Beyond the Hall and its ornate gates (private), the parish church is one of the fi nest and most complete Norman churches in England. Built in the shape of a cross with a central tower, and two small unfi nished western towers with a fi ne doorway between them. One row of Norman pillars support the roof over the nave. Th ey are carefully copied by a second row erected in the 13th century a few feet beyond the originals in order to widen the nave. Unlike many old churches, subsequent builders have added to the original without detracting from the original Norman style; even the Victorians in their zeal for ‘improving’ churches managed to carry out work without altering the designs of the original mason-architects. Overlooked by the South Front of Melbourne Hall, the pool is said to be a fl ooded quarry which provided stone for the church and, it is said, for Melbourne Castle to the north of the town centre. How true this may be is open to conjecture, because so little remains of a fortifi cation once governed by Sir Ralph Shirley, who fought at Agincourt. By the time of Charles I, the castle had fallen into ruin, and now its only remains are a fragment of a once massive wall. When Australian visitors arrive they must usually be taught how we pronounce the name of the town. While we place emphasis on the second part of the name, Mel-bourne, their version while still spelled the same way, is pronounced Mel-burn. What became one of the chief cities in the Commonwealth was named aft er Queen Victoria’s fi rst Prime Minister. Prior to being ennobled, he was plain William Lamb MP who took his title from his birthplace, becoming the 2nd Viscount Melbourne. Later Melbourne Hall passed to the Kerrs who still live there. One of their ancestors was Admiral Lord Walter Kerr, who had amongst his honours, the Royal Humane Society’s Silver Medal awarded for jumping overboard from his ship to rescue a man who had fallen into the River Tagus near Lisbon. CountryImagesMagazine.co.uk | 29