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The area in which you are now standing used to be the King Street cemetery, now known as St Mary’s Close. Roughly in the middle of this area next to the footpath is the family grave of Sir Francis Grant, a famous painter. Born in 1803 in a small village near Perth, Scotland, he then moved to Melton Mowbray and lived at The Lodge on Dalby Road.
He became famous for paintings such as ‘The Melton Hunt Breakfast’ and in 1851 was elected to the Royal Academy, later becoming President which earned him a knighthood. Francis Grant was married to Isabella, the third daughter of Lady Elizabeth Norman who will be mentioned later. When he died in 1878, Francis Grant was entitled to be buried at Westminster Abbey due to being President of the Royal Academy but chose to be buried in Melton Mowbray.
Another famous painter of Melton Mowbray, who had Francis Grant as his pupil, was John Ferneley. Born in nearby Thrussington in 1782 as son of a wheelwright, his talent was noticed by the Duke of Rutland in 1801 after seeing a painting of the Quorn hunt and offered him patronage. From this period to 1804 he studied in London under Ben Marshall, with whom he became firm friends. After 1814, when Ferneley moved to Elgin Lodge in Melton Mowbray, he occasionally visited Marshall he gave him gifts of Stilton cheese and pork pies . Ferneley became very well-known locally and later nationally for his paintings of hunt scenes and lived at Elgin Lodge until his death in 1860. His tombstone, in Thrussington, reads ‘animal painter’.
There are some of John Ferneley’s paintings at Melton Carnegie Museum.
Melton Heritage Trail