Record Details

NHER Number:3241
Type of record:Building
Name:Melton Constable Hall


A nationally important late 17th century country house built for Sir Jacob Astley. The house is built in the Domestic Classical style influenced by architecture in the Netherlands and was probably completed in about 1687, and the main block is of red brick with stone and stucco dressings. The Hall has pedimented windows and dormer windows and a central portico with a coat-of-arms and swags. The interior of the main block has a late 17th century plasterwork ceiling and a room with a detailed Greek Revival ceiling dating to about 1820, as well as a wealth of other decorative detailing. To the east of the main block is a service wing which echoes the nine bay façade with a three bay portico of the main Hall. There is also a later five bay wing to the east, and the north wing and parts of the stable court date to about 1810. The Hall is the only Norfolk house to feature in Kip and Knyff's 'Britannia Illustrata', published in 1707, and is shown surrounded by large and complex gardens. The Hall fell into neglect during the latter half of the 20th century and is gradually being restored.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 0313 3197
Map Sheet:TG03SW

Full description

1664 16 87; said to incorporate remains of Elizabethan building in stables.
Grade I. House of national importance; plaster ceilings etc.
Later additions.
Under restoration 1981.
For full details see (S1) in file. Observations made in 1990 are also summarised in (S5).
E. Rose (NAU) 3 November 1981.

Architects plans and photos in file.

The Hall was built between 1664 and 1670 by Sir Jacob Astley replacing a house of about 1500; enclosed Park in direct male succession from 1236 until sale by the 20th Lord Hastings in 1956. Domestic classical style introduced from the Netherlands by the Webb-May-Wren circle, but no architect recorded. Red brick with stone, stucco, wood and lead dressings, slated and copper roofs. Double pile plan with extensions to east and north; 9 bay north and south fronts 7-bay returns. North (entrance) front: stuccoed half basement, stone dressed 2-light casements filled in. 3 centre bays broken forward, 3 outer bays recessed. Ground and first floor stone dressed windows with stone aprons, sashes replacing casements. Pediments to ground floor central windows of outer bays. Central doorway with 3 part raised and fielded double doors, fanlight and segmental stone pediment on console brackets. Rusticated stone quoins to central 3 bays and to outer bays. Ground floor stone plinth, first floor stone platband. Richly cut wooden modillion eaves cornice with central pediment filled with coat of arms with swags. 2 central and 2 outer segmental and 2 outer triangular pedimented wooden dormers, sashes with glazing bars. South front similar bay system and details except for blind boxes to windows and stone perron stairs with wrought iron railings and central mid 18th century doorway with 3 part raised and fielded double doors and stone architrave with fluted Ionic half-columns and pediment. West front with 2 outer bays and 3 central bays brought forward with ground floor 3 bay Ionic portico 1757, stone basement with balustrade between the order entablature and balustrade above. 2 segmental pedimented dormers with large fan shaped window in valley between roofs to light staircase. East front: 3 central ground floor bays brought forward as a bow with 3 arched headed stone dressed windows; l'oeil de boeuf window above, 2 3-dormers. North and south hipped roofs, 4 large brick stacks with stone copings recessed in valley.
Interior: plaster work ceilings of about 1687 in ground floor room at south west, to former chapel and to first floor room at north east, to main staircase. Richly cut, naturalistic plasterwork in compartment ceilings, perhaps modelled in situ. Main staircase at west with carved strings, 2 barley sugar balusters to each riser, panelled dado; dog-leg to first floor with isolated gallery with same details crossing the well at attic level. Secondary staircase at north east with basement and ground floor Corinthian column newels, arranged as newel staircase with bolection moulded string and rectangular balusters; rising to attics with separate dog-leg stair branching off to first floor. South range ground floor with about 1830 details to central and southeast rooms, latter with pair of green scagliola columns. Room at southwest with about 1750 fireplaces. Former chapel on axis with staircase with mid 18th century fireplace. North pile with mid 18th century panelled room at east, panelled hall, room at north west with Greek Revival detailed ceiling of about 1820 with anthemions etc.
To east service wing of one and half storeys with half basement and attics. Nine bays with central 3 bay portico. Basement 2-light casements with glazing bars, first floor and attic sashes with glazing bars. Ionic portico with balustrade between columns, modillion cornice and pediment with crest and motto cartouche. 2 segmental and 2 triangular headed dormers, 4 ridge stacks. To east further 5 bay wing, 3 central bays broken forward with pediment with heraldic cartouche to answer arrangement of south front of main block. Ground floor 5 casements, first floor 5 sashes, 2 segmental headed dormers. Downpipes all dated 1887, supposedly refacing wing of 1810. Further wing at east of 3 bays 1926.
North wing of hall and part of south west wing of the stable court. 1810. White gault brick with some red brick and cemented dressings; slated roofs. North wing of hall, west front. 2 storeys with attics. 1 3-1-3-1 bay system of ground and first floor sashes with glazing bars under flat rubbed brick arches. Off centre door with margin light sashes with glazing bars under rubbed brick arches, stone Tuscan Doric door architrave of pilasters and triangular pediment. 6 panelled raised and fielded door. Ground floor plinth first floor platband, pilasters and first floor platband, moulded wooden eaves cornice. Single storey wing at rear with attached wall and gate pier forms half of south wing of stable court. The mixed character of the brickwork and curious rhythm of the windows suggest that the north wing en-cases part of the service range illustrated in Kip and Knyff's aerial perspective of Melton Constable.
Detached east range of stable court. 1810. Gault brick with slate roofs. On axis with entrance to west a 4 bay single storey stable block with brick pilasters framing segmental arches. Panelled doors and one sash window with. Glazing bars inside larger opening. Deep modillion eaves cornice, coped parapets and south end stacks. Central ridge level cupola with louvred sides. To south 3 2-storey cottages divided by pilasters with sash windows and panelled doors, hipped end gable and 2 ridge stacks. To south west curtain wail and hipped roof single storey game larder forming south side of court. To north 8 bay range of 3 open and 4 blocked segmental arched bays, 3 bay stable with end pilasters. South gable and rear wail, English bond red brick with quoins suggest late 17th century origin. Cottages at south with crudely chamfered beams.
Information taken from (S2).
The Hall fell into neglect from the mid 20th century, see press cuttings in file, and has recently been undergoing gradual restoration.
A late 17th century wooden scale model of the Hall, created so that Astley could see the finished design, is currently on display in the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum near Dereham.
The Hall is the only Norfolk house to be included in (S3), which shows the large and complex gardens that once surrounded the Hall.
S. Spooner (NLA) 12 May 2006.

See newspaper article (S4) in file detailing dilapidations and proposals for renovation.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 1 June 2006.

Articles missing from file [J. Yates,12 October 2010].

Monument Types

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)
  • GAME LARDER (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)
  • GREAT HOUSE (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)
  • PRIVATE CHAPEL (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)
  • SERVICE WING (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)
  • STABLE (17th Century to 21st Century - 1687 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG0331 F-J, K, L, R-U, X-AF,AK-AL,AM,AN.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. [Articles on the sale of Melton Constable Hall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986-1988. [Articles on the restoration of Melton Constable Hall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1985-1086. [Articles on the threat to Melton Constable Hall and the potential compulsory purchase].
---Aerial Photograph: TG 0331/ ABC, ABD, ABE.
---Aerial Photograph: TG 0331/ AR, AS, AT, AV, AX, AU.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 0331ABF, ABH.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Parkland views from this part of north wing. 15 December.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 611-614; Pl 71.
---Correspondence: Various. 1987. Letters.
---Photograph: 1987. EDJ. 10-16.
---Photograph: EGK. 8-9.
---Newspaper Article: The Times. 1982. [Arrticles on Melton Constable Hall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1983. [Sale advertisement for Melton Constable Hall]. 25 June.
---Newspaper Article: The Times. 1985. Move to save listed house. 31 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. The magic of Melton. 8 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. [Articles on the warning over an overall decay of Melton Constable Hall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. 'No need for any anxiety'. 30 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Little gem of baroque architecture. 4 June.
---Article in Serial: 1905. Melton Constable, Norfolk.. Country Life. 16 September, p1.
---Article in Serial: 1928. Needlework furniture at Melton Constable.. Country Life. 6 October, p1.
---Article in Serial: 1973. Melton Constable. Country Life. 8 November, p1.
---Article in Serial: 1936. Astley of Melton Constable.. Country Life. 12 September, pp3.
---Article in Serial: Christopher Hussey. 1928. Melton Constable - II.. Country Life. 22 September, pp8.
---Article in Serial: Christopher Hussey. 1928. Melton Constable - I, Norfolk.. Country Life. 15 September, pp7.
---Article in Serial: 1905. Melton Constable, Norfolk.. Country Life. 16 September, PP7.
---Sale Particulars: Strutt & Parker. 1986. Melton Constable Hall, Norfolk..
---Photograph: 1987. Photographs of the Stableyard, Melton Constable Hall.. Black and white.
---Photograph: 1987. Photographs of Melton Constable Hall. Black and white & Colour.
---Photograph: Photographic Record of Melton Constable Hall. Print.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Post-Medieval. Melton Constable.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. 1962. North-East Norfolk and Norwich. The Buildings of England. 1st Edition. pp 196-197; Pl 57.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1981. Building Report. Building Report.
<S2>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entries 1049224, 1153044, 1304482 and 1373774.
<S3>Publication: Kip and Knyff. 1707. Britannia Illustrata.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2006. What does the future hold for historic hall?. 31 May. pp 21-24.
<S5>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1991. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1990. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt II pp 240-246. pp 242-243.

Related records

30472Parent of: Melton Constable Park (Monument)
MNO2641Related to: Melton Constable Hall - stable court west and north wings MELTON CONSTABLE (Revoked)
MNO11736Related to: Melton Constable Hall MELTON CONSTABLE (Revoked)

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