Named as ‘Benedlege’ in Domesday and ‘Fennibenetlegh’ in 1271 the name derives from the Old English ‘beonet-leah’. ‘Beonet’ meaning bent grass and ‘leah’ a clearing thus ‘the clearing overgrown with bent grass’. The prefix ‘Fenny’ is used to distinguish Fenny Bentley from other Bentleys as this is a name found throughout much of England with Hungry Bentley a long lost villages being not so far away just south of Ashbourne.
At the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086, Fenny Bentley was listed as being part of the King's lands, and an outlier of Ashbourne. By l297 it was listed as belonging to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, the brother of King Edward I, but by the reign of Henry VI, a younger branch of the Beresford family who lived further up the valley of the Dove, towards Hartington, settled there, and became Lords of the Manor for many generations. In 1821, the village is recorded as containing 49 houses, 51 families, and 242 inhabitants. Of the 51 families, 42 were employed in agriculture, and eight in trade or handicraft connected with the land.
Bentley Hall dates from Jacobean or Elizabethan times and was was the seat of the Beresford family.
St Edmund's church in Fenny Bentley has a sundial on its tower wall, the tower having three bells dated 1614, 1617 and 1850. Within the church is the unusual Beresford tomb in Beresford chapel with its colourful painted aluminium ceiling also there are many wall plaques to Beresford family members. There is a font which may predate the current building and an impressive organ.
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