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A brief History of Fenny Bentley, Derbyshire UK

Fenny Bentley is the southern most village of the Peak District, bisected by the main Ashbourne to Buxton road. The remains of the old Bentley Hall (below), now known as Cherry Orchard Farm, partly medieval but mostly dating from Jacobean times, lies to the east of the road. The main part of the village is over the road, where a group of cottages is attractively centred on the church.

Fenny Bentley Old Hall Photo Fenny Bentley Old Hall

The church of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, has been extensively and pleasingly restored and whilst it is now more the result of several 19th century re-buildings, parts of the fabric date back to the 13th century. It also has fine early 16th century traceried screens. A chancel screen, the older of two, has retained its original roof-loft, though the fine vaulting and cornice have been renewed. The other screen, situated between the aisle and the north chapel, dates from 1519. The church contains one of the most remarkable monuments in the whole of Derbyshire, the alabaster tomb of Thomas Beresford who died in 1473, and his wife. Their effigies are almost hidden in shrouds. On the side are the figures of their twenty one children, sixteen sons and five daughters, who by that time had also all died.

The prolific Beresford family, along with their retainers, provided Henry V with a complete troop of horsemen at Agincourt in 1415. Beresford fought at Agincourt as a young man. He fathered his many children at the fortified manor house and is said to have sent all of his sixteen sons for service in the wars of Henry VI.

Cherry Orchard Farm, opposite the church, by the A515, was once Bentley Old Hall, seat of the Beresford family after Thomas returned from Agincourt to raise his family. The old moated manor house dates from the 15th Century. It is unique in Derbyshire, having a square pele tower, a defensive tower with its original slit openings, features like those incorporated into the structure of many manor farms in England's northern border counties, Cumberland and Northumberland. The formally castellated building is now adjoined to a farmhouse, a charming 17th century successor to the medieval house. The old hall has associations with Isaak Walton, author of the famous treatise on fresh water fishing, "The Compleat Angler". The mother of Walton's companion and fellow angler, Charles Cotton, was a Beresford and she and the two friends often came to the manor house. Bentley Brook, which runs down to the River Dove, joining Bradbourne Brook on the way, earns a mention in Walton's treatise for its trout and grayling.

The Coach and Horses Inn dates from the 16th century when it began life as a box framed half-timbered house converted to its present role in about 1760. Further north, after the road passes under the bridge carrying the Tissington Trail, is the Blue Bell, almost opposite the line of lime trees leading into Tissington.

Almost all of the agricultural land around Fenny Bentley is pasture, the growing of crops being rare. It has been supposed that arable farming was never widely practised in the area but fossilised traces of ridge and furrow can still be found beneath grass covered meadows, in fields around Fenny Bentley, Thorpe and Tissington.

The disused track of the former London and North Western Railway from Ashbourne to Buxton, which has now been converted into a leisure trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the "Tissington Trial", runs through the parish. The former Fenny Bentley goods depot was closed to rail traffic on 7th October, 1963

In the past many Fenny Bentley people worked at the Tattersell Cotton Mill, at nearby Woodeaves, which also produced cotton velvet. Built by John Cooper, in 1784, it was powered by water led along a three-quarter mile leat, also used as a canal for the carriage of limestone. It employed 100 workers engaged in cotton doubling, mainly for the Nottingham lace and cotton trades. It ceased production in 1908 but the warehouse was taken over two years later by William Nuttall, brother of John Nuttall, of the Hartington cheese factory. Stilton cheese was made there until 1930. Woodeaves can be reached by a footpath which starts at the main road and passes to the left of the old Bentley Hall.