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History of Benenden

Benenden, (pronounced Ben-in-dn) comes from the Old English ‘ing’, which is a connective particle, linking the 1st and last elements, with ‘denn’ meaning a ‘woodland pasture’ combined with a personal name; therefore, ‘woodland connected with Bionna’. The Domesday Book records Benenden as Benindene.


Benenden parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint George. The Normans rebuilt the original Saxon chapel in the 13th century, with alterations and additions in the following 200 years, including a wooden tower in which hung four bells. By 1550, an unknown founder had added a fifth bell. In 1672, lightning struck, with the subsequent fire destroying the tower, bells and gutting the church. By the end of the century, they had rebuilt the church although it would be a further 18 years before the tower could be completed. Richard Phelps cast and hung a ring of six bells in 1719. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the Benenden church as consisting of ‘three isles and a chancel, having a tower steeple at the west end, with a beacon turret at the south-east corner of it’. In 1802, Thomas Mears cast two treble bells. The Victorian architect David Brandon carried out a major restoration between 1861 and 1863, renewing the arcades, chancel arch, windows and rebuilding the south aisle wall. In 2003, Hayward Mills Associates augmented the ring to 12 with the addition of four treble bells…. more


In 1924 three teachers from Wycombe Abbey School, opened a boarding school for girls, at Hemsted, an old manor house. The ladies set high academic standards and wanted Benenden to be a 'happy school with personal integrity and service to others always in mind, where everybody would be given the chance to follow her own bent.'