Painting The Town Red

The true infamous story of 'Painting The Town Red'









Painting The Town Red…



Owes its place in the English language to a mad prank which took place in

Melton Mowbray in the early hours of Thursday morning 6th April 1837.


During this week a great amount of excitement was to be seen in the town, owing

to the Croxton Park Races.


Many visitors of rank and fashion had come to stay and meet friends who resided

in the metropolis of fox hunting during the winter months.


The Marquis of Waterford with a large party attended the races and was

billeted in Melton.









Thursday morning 6th April 1837 three o’ clock.



It was at the Grantham toll gate where they

screwed up the shutters and the toll gate door,

Shouted for the “Gate!” the start of the nights


The keeper reached down for a loaded gun,

Uttered a curse! when the powder to prime, found

there was none.

Lady Luck had smiled at the Marquis and his party

that night,

For No.1 shot could have well paved the Marquis

and his party’s plight.




They daubed the town in a blood red coat,

The sign of the Red Lion left in the canal


The Marquis along with the party he led,

Captured the constables,

Barnes, a man of the watch, liberally received

a coat of red!



In the Market Place most of the houses came

in for the brush,

The White Swan its mantle soon sported a

crimson blush,

At the Beast Market a number of doors were

presented with a bright red coat,

The sound of the spree about to reach new

heights of infamous note.



Arrested by the constables, detained under

lock and key,

Edward Horner Reynard Esquire a participant

of the spree.

Humble town folk from their windows stared

in disbelief and shock,

As the Marquis and his party attacked the watch-house

and forced three of the locks;

Unable the fourth to force,

Their following action was to steer a somewhat

sinister course.


They beat the constables Mason

and Campian, demanded their prisoner

to be set free,

Threatened to murder them if they did not

deliver up the key!

And so the night’s infamous furore was

about to cease,

As the constables in fear of their lives, their

prisoner they were obliged to release.




During the day on Thursday the Marquis with Captain Grantham and Mr Reynard

were once again on the streets.


After what appeared to be a row or a challenge to the constables to fight any of the party of the Marquis, Mr Reynard was arrested by three constables and was locked

up for a second time.


On the second night there was no painting, however the foul language and oaths that

ensued had never been heard before on the streets of Melton Mowbray.



 Peter Morriss





First published Poetic Hours 2002


Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

The thumbnail on the right shows a picture of Burrough Hill, Leicestershire.

an Iron Age Hill Fort.

It was here where horse races were held in the 1800s.