Silent witness to the English Civil Wars and the Industrial Revolution . . .

High above the gorge of the River Severn in the Shropshire countryside, and close to Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale lies Benthall Hall, an intriguing Tudor manor house dating from 1535, and home to Edward and Sally Benthall.  It has been in the Benthall family for more than 500 years – and saw some of the excesses of the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, as well as the birth of the Industrial Revolution at the beginning of the 18th century. It lies about 20 miles as the crow flies to the west of Moseley Old Hall. But whereas the latter was originally a typical Elizabethan half-timbered building, Benthall Hall is constructed from stone.

Since the house is still occupied by the family from time-to-time, only certain rooms are open to the public. Photography is permitted only in the ground floor rooms. Nevertheless, Benthall Hall has a certain charm – and still retains a ‘lived-in’ feeling. The main entrance is rather modest, but opens into a grand hall, with three rooms off to the sides. Two of these are beautifully paneled and the over-mantles are exquisitely carved. In one room, on the east side of the main hall, paint has been removed from the paneling to reveal the underlying wood in all its glory. One the opposite side of the building the paneling is still painted, and matches in with the plaster ceiling. It’s been suggested that the family decided to paint over the paneling after it was damaged during various skirmishes in the Civil Wars.

There is a small collection of beautiful Caughley porcelain which was manufactured in Broseley near Benthall Hall between 1775 and 1799. The gardens are quite small – the ubiquitous ha-ha, a wilderness area, cottage garden, and terraced plantings close to the house. A small church in the grounds is not currently open to the public, but now belongs to the National Trust and, after refurbishment, will become the reception center.

 

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