The greatness of Bentley

PUBLISHED: 10:35 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

The greatness of Bentley

The greatness of Bentley

There is so much going on in Great Bentley, it comes as no surprise that it was named National Village of the Year in 2000, as Mary Maskall explains

GREAT BENTLEY is situated in northeast Essex within the Tendring peninsula. It is thought the Saxons named the village Benetlea, later Much Bentley, the latter part of the name 'ley' meaning pasturage.

The village was once a port from where Thames barges exported sand and bricks, from the village brickworks near Flag Wharf and returned laden with coal. The present population of Great Bentley numbers approximately 2,300 and includes the hamlet of Aingers Green. The actual parish boundary is 13½ miles long and every seven years is walked by parishioners replicating the ancient tradition of Beating the Bounds.

Great Bentley Parish News is our award-winning monthly magazine which features a variety of articles. The village has won the Best Kept Village Competition and in 2000 it was National Village of the Year.

There are still a variety of shops and businesses and a new butchers shop will open shortly. The village primary school celebrated its centenary in 1997 and is full to the brim with 220 pupils.

The famous 43-acre green, reputed to be the largest in the country, is undoubtedly the focal point and heart of our village. The football and cricket clubs play their matches on this unique venue and both have thriving youth teams. The first cricket match recorded on the green was in September 1771 and Great Bentley FC is 113 years old. The local running club recently hosted the Essex Half Marathon and the popular annual carnival and fete is always held at the end of June, while the Bentley in Bloom team cheer us all with floral displays.

The Village Show is another annual highlight due to be held on Saturday, August 30, commencing at 1.30pm. Existing records state that Great Bentley Cottage Horticultural Society held a show in the grounds of St Mary's Hall in 1882 and presumably for some time after.

For many, Show Day is the quintessentially British idyll. The huge marquee is erected on the green to house the exhibits, which range from the traditional to a range of art and crafts. An Exemption Dog Show takes place and there are numerous stalls and attractions.

Add to this the popular Flower and Art Festival on September 6 and 7 and you can see, Great Bentley is not a sleepy village but a thriving one.

Mary Maskell
Great Bentley Parish News

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