The early Benthalls of Benthall Hall
The Benthall family can trace their lineage back to the site of Benthall as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period.
The place, Benthall, was recorded in the Domesday Book as part of Wenlock, and belonged to Wenlock Priory. Members of the Benthall family took its name from the place, and were described at various times as lords of the manor, and 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. In the
obtained from Robert the Benthall estate.
From John Burnell the estate passed to his elder son Philip, who is described as Philip Burnell de Benethale in a deed dated 1322. From him the estate descended in 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 have happened around 1535, with later, 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 the 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.
Not much happens at Benthall now until the Civil War.