Melton’s historic Swan Porch needs your votes to win prestigious Green Plaque

The Swan Porch in Market Place is a possible location for a Green Plaque Picture: Michael Cooke EMN-150216-160059001
The Swan Porch in Market Place is a possible location for a Green Plaque Picture: Michael Cooke EMN-150216-160059001
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One of Melton’s most historically important buildings has been shortlisted for a scheme which recognises individuals or properties which have played an important role in Leicestershire life.

Swan Porch, in Market Place, which had a pivotal part in an incident which sparked the popular saying ‘Painting the Town Red’, is one of 12 places/people in the running to secure a green plaque - but now it needs your votes to be in with a chance of receiving one of the six awards on offer.

Paint the Town Red by Melton artist Brian Hollingshead EMN-150216-161021001

Paint the Town Red by Melton artist Brian Hollingshead EMN-150216-161021001

Melton Mowbray Town Estate feoffee John Southerington, who had previously applied for Swan Porch to receive a green plaque, said: “It has played a main part in the heritage of Melton Mowbray so I really think it deserves to have one of these plaques.

“Everyone knows the saying ‘Painting the Town Red’ and it was the Swan Porch which had an important role in the saying coming about.”

The phrase came about following a public disturbance in Melton town centre in 1837, when a drunken group of upper class revellers led by the Marquis of Waterford toured local pubs after returning from a day at the Croxton Park races.

They arrived at the tollgate in Thorpe End but were refused entry unless they paid the required tolls, prompting the gang to barricade the toll keeper in his house and paint his gate red.

The high jinks did not stop there because the party continued to decorate doors and buildings with red paint along Beast Market (now Sherrard Street), Market Place and Burton Street.

The episode culminated with the Marquis being hoisted up by his pals on to Swan Porch before daubing that red as well.

Police constables were unable to prevent the antics and officers even suffered the humiliation of being painted by the revellers.

The next day, a court hearing found the men not guilty of causing a riot but they were convicted on common assault charges and fined £100 each.

A fire damaged Swan Porch in September 1885 but the original effigy of the swan was restored and the red paint was revealed during the work.

Mr Southerington added: “Right up until the early 1930s Melton Mowbray was classed as being a desirable place out in the sticks for the gentry to stay.

“The Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson lived at Craven Lodge, the Yorks and the Gloucesters were at Warwick Lodge and, of course, around 150 years before that we had Beau Brummell living it up in the town.

“Swan Porch reflected what was happening in Melton Mowbray and I would urge people to vote for it if it is shortlisted for a green plaque.”

l The 12-strong green plaque shortlist was selected by a panel of judges following dozens of nominations from the public for the Leicestershire County Council scheme.

The shortlisted places/people, competing for public votes, are: The Swan Porch, Melton; Angel Yard, Loughborough; Charles Bennion, entrepreneur and philanthropist (Newtown Linford); William Henry Bragg, Nobel Prize winner for physics (Market Harborough); Private William Henry Buckingham, awarded the Victoria Cross (Countesthorpe); Samuel Swinfen Burdett, lawyer and politician (Broughton Astley); William Cotton, manufacturer and inventor (Loughborough); Sergeant John Hannah, awarded the Victoria Cross (Birstall); Lord Macaulay, historian, essayist, poet and politician (Rothley); George Stephenson ‘Father of the Railways’ (Ravenstone); Sunloch, winner of the Grand National (Loughborough) and Joseph Wilkes, industrialist (Measham).

Voting closes on Monday, April 6. You can vote for up to six of your favourites online or at your local library.

To vote and for more about the green plaque scheme visit www.leics.gov.uk/greenplaques