Benthall Hall Civil War History

An oak carving showing the escape of Charles II from Boscobel House

The family had its part to play in the Civil War, with Lawrence Benthall heading up a garrison at the house. Being Royalists, the family supported King Charles I and this meant confronting the Parliamentarians on a number of occasions.

In 1642, Lawrence Benthall was the owner of the estate. He'd married Katherine Cassy of Whitfield, Gloucestershire, and together they made many improvements to the interior of the house.

The overmantle shows the Benthall and Cassy crest joined together
The Drawing Room overmantle
The overmantle shows the Benthall and Cassy crest joined together

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. Colonel Lawrence Benthall fortified his house for the King and, in March 1643, he commanded the garrison in a successful attack on a Parliamentary plundering party led by Colonel 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 Colonel 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 to the Drawing Room window and to the panelling, the attack seems to have impacted this end of the house most.

The church before its restoration work
St Bartholomew's Church at Benthall
The church before its restoration work

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: 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.