The loss of Benthall Hall from the family

A watercolour of the Drawing Room in George Maw's time

For just over a century Benthall Hall came out of the Benthall's possession. This came about due to a lack of heirs, but it also led to some interesting times for the house in regards to the tenants that lived here.

Lawrence was succeeded by his eldest son Philip Benthall, who died in 1713 aged 81. He was buried in the chancel of Benthall church. His son Richard, who inherited, died in 1720 leaving no children. Richard’s uncle, Edward Benthall, had left a daughter, Katherine, who married Ralph Browne of Caughley Hall, near Broseley. Their children included a daughter named Elizabeth. Before he died, Richard settled his estate on his cousin Elizabeth Browne, a step which resulted on his death litigation when the estate was claimed by his two sisters. In 1746 the case was decided by the House of Lords in favour of the Brownes and the property passed to another Ralph Browne, the last descendant of the Benthalls to own it for well over a century.

From Ralph Browne, Benthall passed to his wife’s niece, who married the Rev. Edward Harries, whose son, Francis Blythe Harries, was the owner until 1843. After a fire in 1818 a new wing containing a large dining room was built at the east end of the house. In 1962 this was demolished except for two rooms in the basement, leaving a raised terrace.

In 1844 the house was sold to the 2nd Lord Forester, the owner of the neighbouring Willey estate, and from 1845 to about 1930 Benthall Hall was occupied by various tenants. The most notable of these tenants were George Maw, the distinguished botanist, who assembled a collection of rare plants in the garden, and his first tile manufacturing business at the end of the drive. The other notable tenant was Robert Batemen, the son of James Bateman, the creator of Biddulph Grange. These two successive tenants made many changes to the interior of the house, including tiled floors in the entrance hall (now hidden) and in other rooms of the house along with major changes to the garden. Robert also made changes to the garden, and also added embellishments to the church. The dovecote in the Rose Garden can be attributed to Robert.

The dovecote we think was originally a garden room
The dovecote in the rose garden
The dovecote we think was originally a garden room

When the house came up for sale in 1843 a member of the Devon branch of the Benthall family tried to acquire the house. However, Edward Benthall, who was a judge in Bengal was unable to outbid Lord Forester due to his absence in India.