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Foremost for food

by
09 January 2015

By Sue Dobson

Where?
In the north east of Leicestershire, Melton Mowbray is at the heart of the East Midlands, with easy road access from the M1, M42, and M69.

Why?
Ringed by rich, rolling farmland, the medieval market town of Melton Mowbray, famed for its pork pies and Stilton cheese, is gaining a reputation as the rural capital of food and drink.

What to see
St Mary's, Pevsner states, is "the stateliest and most impressive of all churches in Leicestershire". It dates mainly from the 13th-15th centuries, and the 1850s restoration work is by George Gilbert Scott. It is a grand cruciform church with aisled transepts and 48 clerestory windows running the length of the building. Its 100-foot-high tower is a focal point above the town, where shops, cafés, and restaurants now occupy many of the historic buildings. The red brick Melton Carnegie Museum, housed in a 1905 former library on Thorpe End, has permanent displays, interactive areas, and seasonal exhibitions on all aspects of local history and traditions.

A smattering of individual shops punctuate the usual high-street stores on streets that radiate out from the Market Place. Dickinson & Morris have been baking their traditional pork pies since 1851 (and rich, moist, Melton Hunt fruit cakes since 1854), and Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, and its Sausage Shop next door on Nottingham Street top the list of the town's foodie highlights.

Also unmissable, the Melton Cheeseboard, on Windsor Street, displays more than 150 local, British, and Continental varieties, plus artisan breads, locally brewed beers, Belvoir fruit presses, and Melton Mowbray sloe gin. Tuesday is the big market day, as it has been since royal approval was given in 1324. There is a large Saturday street market, too.

Where to eat and drink
The independent More Coffee Co., on the Market Place, is a friendly café that serves great coffee, wraps, paninis, sandwiches, and moreish home-made cakes. On Burton Street, close to the parish church, the Anne of Cleves does good pub lunches. A chantry priests' house in the 15th century, handed over to Thomas Cromwell and then gifted to Anne by Henry VIII as part of his divorce settlement, it has character.

Near by
Three miles from the town centre, Twinlakes Theme Park offers all-weather family entertainment with thrills, spills, and adventure rides, a falconry centre, acres of seasonal flowers, and a farm that is home to meerkats.

To the north of Melton Mowbray, the scenic Vale of Belvoir (pronounced "beaver") is a peaceful expanse of countryside with pretty villages dotted among quiet rolling hills. Ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, set high on a ridge with spectacular views, is famed for its spring and summer gardens.

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