Mells Manor is said to have been obtained by Jack Horner after he found the deed in a pie given to him to carry to London, as referenced in the popular nursery rhyme Little Jack Horner.
In fact it has little to do with Mells. It first appears in the 1390s, well before the Horners, and then disappears until the 1760s when a long rhyme is published in which Jack Horner is closely tied to a location in Barnet (north of London).
Leland in the 16th century and the original 1543 conveyance, which still survives, both state that Thomas Horner not a John or ‘Jack’ bought the land ‘of the king’ and at a high valuation. Mells and ‘Little Jack Horner’ were not connected in popular legend until the 20th century.
The Grade I listed 16th century Mells manor house played host to King Charles I in June 1642 and is now the residence of the Earls of Oxford and Asquith.
The architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was a close friend of the Asquiths and designed the local bus stop and war memorial.
The Talbot Inn at Mells is a Grade II* listed former coaching inn that dates from the 15th century.
The Mells Church of St Andrew is Grade I listed and houses an equestrian statue by Sir Alfred Munnings to Edward Horner, who was killed during World War I in 1917.
Notable burials outside Mells church include the war poet Siegfried Sassoon and Monsignor Ronald Knox.
History was made in Mells. Talks between representatives of South Africa’s Apartheid regime and Nelson Mandela’s ANC party took place here over the course of ten years before a peaceful handover of power and the release of Mr Mandela from prison.
The talks were hosted by a large mining company, Consolidated Gold Fields, based in Mells and with interests in South Africa. The events are described in the 2009 television film Endgame.
The village website can be found at www.mellsvillage.co.uk.
Distance from Nunney
2.7 miles (4.3 km)
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