Run No. 598 2nd February 2003

The Lordship Arms, Benington

Runners:  19
Mutts:  -
Ankle Biters:  -
Knitting Circle:  -
Apres:  -
Newies/Returnees:  -

There is a Picture Gallery for this run

BENNINGTON, 5 miles south east of Stevenage and the Great Northern Railway, and 7 miles north-north-west of Ware station and river, is in the hundred of Broadwater. A fair is held here yearly on July 10. The Church is dedicated to St Peter, and the living is a rectory; the present incumbent is the Rev. John Pollard, M.A., and the Rev. Joseph William Sharpe, curate. Bennington was anciently a residence of the Kings of Mercia. The area of the parish is 2,950 acres, and the population, in 1841, was 605. The assessment to Income Tax, in 1841, was £4,248. Box Hall is ¼ mile north. Cole Green, ½ mile north-east.

The earliest history of the site to be documented is when the King of Mercia, Beortwulf (Beowulf? - Archive Ed.) held a Great council at his palace and castle in 850 to decide how to rout the Danes who had invaded the country. This must have been successful because locally there are two Dane Ends.

With the arrival of William the Conqueror his supporter Peter de Valoignes was given the manorial rights and he made Benington the centre of his Barony. The castle then had a wooden mot but when his son Roger inherited it he built a stone keep in 1138, which was demolished in 1177 by Henry II. It is the only vernacular Norman stone building in Hertfordshire. The extensive earth works and the keep remains are a complete example of a medieval castle.

By 1285 the manor was owned by John de Benstede, Keeper of the Great Seal and Keeper of the Wardrobe of Edward I. His family rebuilt the church adjoining the castle. After 1485 the Earls of Essex owned it.

In 1614 the Earls of Essex sold the manor to Sir Julius Caesar who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Master of the Rolls to James I. The Caesars lived at Benington Place, another house in the village and were actively involved in politics but by 1741 they were insolvent and the property was bought for John Cheshire. Almost immediately Benington Place burnt down and the Cheshires moved into the present Lordship thought to have been built as a dower house for the Caesars at the beginning of the century. So the Lord of the Manor returned to live on the site of his Norman forebears.

In 1832 George Proctor was in residence and was responsible for building the magnificent neo Roman gatehouse, summerhouse and curtain wall. Built of flint and Pulhamite, it is an interesting example of a Norman folly fashionable in William IV's reign. The summerhouse has a beautifully inscribed tombstone of a Greek slave, which had been given to George Proctor by a friend Captain George Gordon. He also made additions to the house, which was surrounded by a golf course.

The present owner's grandfather Arthur Bott bought the property in 1906. An engineer, he had made his money in India and wanted to live close to London. He built on the west wing to the house with a large veranda and his wife Lilian and her brother made the garden. Arthur Bott's grandson Harry and his wife Susan live in the house now. During the winter it snows in Benington. This gives rise to the best shiggy ever. This is why we go hashing here.

Since you 'orrible lot nearly all went home BEFORE the circle, it was much shorter than usual. 2 DOWN DOWNs went to 1 hare because the new boy John, co-hare, also went home BEFORE the circle. Big Blouse and No Knickers were christened. Sorry, I can't remember your names, but the RA couldn't either. White Rabbit couldn't remember which Hash she belonged to nor which direction to drive THROUGH a snow bank, so in the circle she came. My Little Pony (that's me!!) couldn't remember NOT to shout at the ponies in the field and nobody could remember quite which pub to run from next week. Must be something in the air.

ON ON, you cold wet lovely people