Fenny Bentley is a pretty village situated 2 miles north of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. It is bisected by the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road. Life in Fenny Bentley revolves, as it has done for years, around the school, the pub and the church.
The Church of St Edmund at Fenny Bentley probably dates back to the 14th century but it was very heavily restored in the 19th century when the spire was added to the west tower. Much of the stained glass also dates from the 19th century. The 2 impressive features of the church are its 16th century screens and the alabaster Beresford tomb, which represents Sir Thomas Beresford, his wife Agnes and their 21 children all completely shrouded. Sir Thomas Beresford had fought at Agincourt along with some of his sons.
It is said that everyone with the surname Beresford is decended from them and Fenny Bentley is still the meeting place of the Beresford Family Society every spring. They had a major reunion for people bearing the Beresford surname in 1987, as the first recorded deed mentioning Beresford was 1087, and other large reunions in 1997 and 2007.
Cherry Orchard Farm, on the opposite side of the road to the church, was once the family home of the Beresfords and known as Bentley Hall. The ' half ' tower is 15th century. A more modern fine gabled and mullioned farmhouse is attached to the tower. It is the only working farm left in the village. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century this was the home of Thomas Beresford and his wife Agnes.
The pub, also across the road from the main village is called the Coach and Horses and was once a coaching inn. The village use to have another inn called the Wheatsheaf, but has now long been a private house. There was also once a mill producing cotton velvet, that provided much employment for local people, but again this has long gone. On the outskirts of the village is the Leatherbritches Bentley Brook Inn and Fenny's Restaurant, a traditional busy country Inn with its own brewery. The brew house is established in the old washhouse and coal store at the back of the Inn where real ales are brewed two or three times each week.
"Leatherbritches" takes its name from an old tradition. Long before the days of scientific analysis and invention of the saccrometer, Ale Conners, who collected taxes for the Crown, needed to check the strength of the beers brewed. They used to pour some of the beer onto a barrel top, sit on it for a while, and, depending on how sticky they felt it to be when they stood up, they were able to asses it's alcoholic strength and impose the appropriate duty. Worsted, cord and even moleskin trousers failed to withstand this onerous duty. Thus leather britches were worn by all the ale conners and they became the mark of their profession.
The old village school closed when the new Fitzherbert school was built in 1970. The church and school run a much looked forward too, annual fete. Fenny Bentley still remains a close knit community.
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