The early Benthalls of Benthall Hall

The front of Benthall Hall

The Benthall family can trace its lineage back to the Anglo-Saxon period on this site.

The place of Benthall was recorded in the Domesday Book as part of Wenlock, and belonged to Wenlock Priory. Members of the Benthall family took their name from the place and were described at various times as lords of the manor - 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 then passed to John Burnell's elder son, Philip, who is described as Philip Burnell de Benethale in a deed dated 1322. From him, the estate descended through 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 date from around 1535, with 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 its 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.

After that, not much happened at Benthall until the Civil War.