The place, Benthall, was recorded in the Domesday Book as part of Wenlock, and belonged to Wenlock Priory. Members of the Benthall family took its name from the place, and were described at various times as lords of the manor, and they would have held the property from the priory. The first well-documented member of the family was Anfrid de Benetala (d. after 1128). Two heralds who visited Shropshire on different occasions in the 16th century are recorded as stating that they had seen deeds or charters in Anglo-Saxon that documented the family’s existence here before the Norman Conquest. After Anfrid the succession of the estate is clear. The first record of a house at Benthall dates to 1250 when Philip de Benthall is recorded as granting to Buildwas Abbey the right to carry stone and coal over his land in Benthall Edge. On his death Philip left three daughters but no son. In 1283 the estate was acquired by Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells and Lord Chancellor of England.
The estate passed to his elder son Philip, who is described as Philip Burnell de Benethale in a deed dated 1322. From him the estate descended in the male line to William Benthall, who is believed to have built the present house, or at least part of it. The first phase of the current house seems to have happened around 1535, with later, major improvements around 1580. The name Burnell was dropped after a few generations, leaving just Benthall. For over 300 years, up to the 16th century, the great events of history passed Benthall by and the inhabitants made no mark outside their immediate neighbourhood. The family history becomes little more than a catalogue of marriages with Shropshire families. In the troubled times of Elizabeth I the family was Catholic in sympathy, if not in practice. The remains of hiding places have been found in the house.
On the outbreak of the Civil War, King Charles I made his headquarters for a time at Shrewsbury, where he rallied many of the local gentry to his cause. Col. Lawrence Benthall fortified his house for the King, and, in March 1643, commanded the garrison in a successful attack on a Parliamentary plundering party led by Col. Mytton of Wem. For two years or more the King’s garrison at Benthall seems to have been maintained, but in February 1645, the Royalist stronghold of Shrewsbury fell in a surprise night-time attack led by the same Col. Mytton. The surrounding country soon came under Parliamentary control and in July a Parliamentary garrison occupied Benthall. At this time the neighbourhood of Benthall and Broseley was one of the most important coalfields in the west of England. The Parliamentarians valued Benthall garrison as a base to command the River Severn and to prevent its use for carrying coal to the Royalists at Bridgnorth and Worcester. Its strategic importance was recognised by the King’s men too, and later in 1645 a Royalist force made an attack on Benthall Hall at daybreak. After an hour’s hard fighting the Royalists were forced to withdraw. From the damage done the Drawing Room window and the damage to the panelling the attack mainly seems to have impacted this end of the house most.
The church at Benthall was also destroyed during the Civil War along with the original Benthall village that lay to the north of the house. The village was not rebuilt on the same site, but new cottages were built half a mile to the east, nearer to the coal-mines. The church was rebuilt, and is now a fine example of a Restoration church. There is only wheelchair access to the Entrance Hall. Any visitors who can only access the Entrance Hall will be given a talk about the rest of the property by the volunteer in the Entrance Hall using visual aids. There is a braille guide (and large print guides) for the visually impaired. Mobility car park with drop-off point There is a Mobility toilet. The Grounds are mainly accessible, although there are slopes. Some visitors may require assistance from their companion. Assistance dogs are welcome
Location : Benthall Hall, The Avenue, Broseley, Shropshire TF12 5RX
Transport: Telford Central (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : services from Telford and Wellington and 18 stops near by.
Opening Times : Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays 13:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £6.50; Children £3.25
Tel: 01952 882159