Beautiful Georgian market town bordering the National Forest
A beautiful Georgian town, Melbourne has a long and notable history and was recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) as a royal manor.
The name derives from ‘mill on the brook’ and one of its many features is the old mill pool known as Melbourne Pool, picturesquely landscaped in 1845 for Lord Melbourne, the former Prime Minister (1779-1848). Overlooking the pool is Melbourne Hall and Gardens. Melbourne Hall was a secondary home of Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister William Lamb who, as second Viscount Melbourne, gave his name to the Australian city of Melbourne in the 1830s. The present building dates from the renovations of 1630, 1726 and 1744. The spectacular gardens were laid out by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Coke in 1704.
The adjacent parish church of St. Michael with St. Mary, is one of the finest Norman parish churches in Britain is believed to have been built circa 1125-35.
In the 19th Century, Melbourne was a centre for framework knitting, boot and shoe manufacture. Market gardening was also an important part of its history and Thomas Cook, the travel agent, born of a poor family in 1808, was employed by a Melbourne market gardener. Having found fame and fortune, Cook built a quadrangle of memorial cottages on High Street which are still run in trust.
Melbourne today is a haven of superb restaurants, pubs and cafes together with a wealth of shopping opportunities including galleries, antique shops, specialist clothes stores, gift shops and local produce. The town has more than fifty restaurants and shops split between the town centre and the Courtyard at Melbourne Hall, just a couple of minutes walk away. On a Thursday there is a market outside Melbourne Assembly Rooms, known for its food and drink stalls.
Each September the town organises the Melbourne Festival – two weeks of arts, crafts, musical performances, recitals and exhibitions. The Festival’s Arts & Culture Trail leads you around the town, in and out of residents’ houses to view the work of talented artists and craft workers, hosted therein for the weekend.