The Bensington Society was formed in response to a period of change in which our small agricultural community was declared an “area for growth”. This period of change reached a climax in the 1960s, when College Farm in the centre of Benson was demolished and replaced by shops and houses.
Those who loved the village as it was, watched in dismay, and their protests became louder and organised. This led to the establishment of The Bensington Society. The Society's first success was to overturn the proposal to demolish the vernacular houses that lie between the butcher’s shop, and the entrance to Millstream.
The cottages in the High Street, which were about to be demolished in 1972
The restored cottages have remained an attractive feature of the village centre.
Following on from this success, the Society set out to monitor new planning applications to ensure all future construction work was not just a panacea for the property developer, but had to be of real lasting benefit to Benson. Its first President was the Reverend Canon Alfred Barton.
Since those early days the aims of the Society have been developed to our current objectives, which are:
To promote, protect and improve the environment of Benson and its surrounding area.
To preserve and protect features of historic, ecological or public interest in the area.
To promote a forum for debate on local issues.
One of the aims of The Bensington Society when it was formed was to preserve all that is best in Benson and so early on a History Group was formed. Local historian, Kate Tiller tutored two series of evening classes on the history of Benson and subsequently wrote the book, "Benson. A village through its history", in collaboration with members of the newly formed History Group. Three more excellent history books were to follow (which can be ordered using the button at the foot of this page.)
The Bensington Society and its History Group have had many achievements since the Society was formed. One early success was the discovery of the old village hand and horse operated fire engine in a barn, which was lovingly restored by founder members.
More recently, the History Group and Benson Parish Council decided to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War by researching how the war affected the inhabitants of Benson. The results were presented to the village in the form of a fascinating exhibition, which included stories of individual servicemen, battles in which they fought, maps, films, photographs and personal artefacts. Some of this material can be read on the 1914-1918 page of this website. Local schoolchildren became involved in this exhibition by contributing their own artwork, inspired by the Great War.
Please contact the Secretary if you would like to join the History Group, in order to research the history of Benson.
History Group Members
Janet Burtt - Chair
Sue Brown - Secretary
Contact - 01491 837885
Jane Farquharson - Website
The old fire tender before and after restoration
History Group visit to Mapledurham House June 2016
History Group visit to the RAF Benson Douglas Hamilton Ethos and Heritage Facility March 2017
BENSON'S FIRST BLUE PLAQUE UNVEILED!
On June 9th 2018, a plaque honouring our local meteorologist William Henry Dines was unveiled near Observatory Close. An interactive meteorological exhibition was set up in the Parish Hall.
Read more details here.
V.E.DAY CELEBRATIONS FRIDAY 8TH MAY 2020
Despite lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Benson was decorated with Union Jacks and bunting. Street parties went ahead with "social distancing" measures in place. Everyone had a great time.
Thank you to Gavin Mclauchlan for the photographs
Benson Village History Open Day 24th June 2023
The Open Day included displays of research material, rolling slide shows, artefacts, maps and reference documents. A timeline showed visitors historical events dating back to Saxon times. Many families have moved into Benson recently and they had an opportunity to find out about the reasons behind out street names and look at historical photographs.
The History Group welcomes new members. For further details please contact the Secretary (Sue Brown) on 01491 837885 or via firstname.lastname@example.org