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Bentley Heath Triangle

The Old School

The history of Bentley Heath is documented by Edna G Handley in her 1992 book 'Bentley Heath and Widney Manor', available from Knowle Library, (Ref 942.497).

Bentley Heath, in common with nearby Copt Heath, was an area of heathland, standing on higher ground above the surrounding Forest of Arden. It was an area where wildlife grazed on wild grasses amongst smaller trees and gorse.

As the Forest was relatively impenetrable, and the heathland fairly open it is no surprise that Bentley Heath provided an early through route, as early as the 12th century, from the Great House at Longdon on Copt Heath to that at Beaudesert near Henley. This route is now followed by Browns Lane and Four Ashes Road.

In the 1600s, the Holbech Family were appointed Lords of Widney Manor and their house, Bentley Hall, which stood on this route at the present entrance to the Riding School, became the Manor House.

By the end of the seventeenth century there was a farm where Dorridge Methodist Church stands today and a blacksmith's cottage near the present junction of Browns Lane and Four Ashes Road. Farm labourers and others had established cottages on the Heath.

In the early 1800s a Windmill was built on the Heath, just off the present Mill Lane. In the mid 1800s the railway cut through Bentley Heath and split the Widney Manor estate into two. In 1870 the Old School was built on the Heath, pictured above at a time when it was used for offices, before recent redevelopment. And by this time the major roads were established. What is now known as Bentley Heath was a triangle of land surrounded by 'The Henley Road' now Four Ashes Road, 'Rotton Row Road' now Widney Road and 'Bentley Heath Road 'now Mill Lane.

This triangle of land was developed for housing between the 1930s and 1950s. Instrumental in this was land owner Mr Frank Slater, after whom Slater Road is named. With these developments Bentley Heath as we know it today emerged.