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Fenny Bentley

OS Grid ref:- SK178501

Fenny BentleyThe small, pretty village of Fenny Bentley lies around two miles to the north of Ashbourne. It bears the distinction of being the most southerly village in the Peak District.

Records reveal that a settlement has existed at Fenny Bentley since being mentioned in The Domesday Book in 1086, where it was recorded as Benedlege. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'beonet-leah' meaning bent grass clearing. It is recorded as 'Fennibenetlegh' in 1271.

St Edmunds Church, which stands at the centre of the village, dates back to the fourteenth century although a chapelry existed here as early as 1240. The north aisle was added in 1850, and in 1864, the spire was added to the original tower. Some interesting features of the building are the alabaster tomb of Sir Thomas Beresford (died 1473), his wife Agnes and their 21 children all completely shrouded. The whole monument was made a hundred years later in Elizabethan times.

There is a beautifully carved rood screen and vaulted ceiling of about 1460. The screen was given to the church by a member of the Beresford family as a thanksgiving following the War of the Roses. The building also contains oak parish chest which dates back to the early thirteenth century. The stained glass windows depicting various members of the Beresford family, including Thomas in armour, whilst on the walls are memorial plaques to his various descendants. For a year or two before Agincourt, the law required able-bodied men aged between 16 and 60 to practise archery after Mass every Sunday and on feast days. In the church porch can still be seen grooves in the stonework where they sharpened their arrows.

Fenny BentleyOpposite the church stands Cherry Orchard Farm, (pictured right) previously known as Bentley Hall, a medieval tower with its original slit openings, dating from the fifteenth century, is situated at the front of the farm, which is now all that now remains of the fifteenth century fortified and moated manor house of the Beresford family.

The nearby moat would seem to have been the site of the hall, there is also the truncated tower part of a medieval gateway. A fine gabled and mullioned early seventeenth farmhouse is attached to the tower. Thomas Beresford , the hall's occupant in the reign of Henry VI raised a private army of troops and fought with one of his sons alongside Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt.

The Beresfords were a prolific family who lived in the area for generations, and owned much of the local property and land. It is suggested that everyone with the surname Beresford is descended from them and there are still reunions held in Fenny Bentley every spring as it is now the meeting place for the Beresford Family Society. The earliest recorded mention of the family is in a deed relating to John de Beresford who held the manor of Beresford, and is dated 4th October, 1087. A Hugh de Beveresford is mentioned in a legal document of 1228.

On the outskirts of the village is the Leatherbritches Bentley Brook Inn and Fenny's Restaurant, a traditional country Inn with its own brewery. The brew house is established in the old washhouse and coal store at the back of the Inn. The pub also a range of good value meals. Outside there is a terrace, lawned area and childrens play area. The Coach and Horses Inn dates from the sixteenth century when it began life as a box framed half-timbered house.

Tattersell Cotton Mill at Woodeaves, a nearby hamlet, around a mile from Fenny Bentley, was built in 1784 by John Cooper. Around 100 people were employed there, mainly for the Nottingham lace and cotton trade. In 1886, the mill was brought by Manchester cotton merchant Cornelius Tattersell, father of John Lincoln Tattersall who was also employed there, he established a home in the nearby village of Thorpe, in 1893. In 1908, the mill ceased production but the warehouse was taken over in 1910 by William Nuttall.

Nearby places of interest

The Burrows Garden is situated 5 miles to the south east of Ashbourne. Set in beautiful countryside, the superb gardens cover 5 acres.

Dovedale, a dramatic limestone ravine, with its mpressive rock outcrops and tranquil woodlands is arguably the prettiest of the dales in the Peak District National Park and is owned by the National Trust.

The Manifold Valley, which runs almost parallel with Dovedale, has been described as the 'Switzerland of Staffordshire' and offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the Peak District National Park.

Biddulph Grange, one of Britain's most exciting and unusual gardens, was created by the horticulturalist James Bateman (18111897), for his large collection of plants from around the world.

Haddon Hall near Bakewell, is an architectural gem. Dating back to the eleventh century, the hall has been described as "the most complete and most interesting house of [its] period", it is the finest example of a medieval manor house currently in existence in England.

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