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4 miles east of Stevenage
There is no doubt that the centre of Benington justifies the village’s long-standing reputation of being one of the prettiest in Hertfordshire. Its classic ingredients - church, folly, stately home, pub, cottages and green - can be seen in one sweeping glance from a vantage point by the duck-pond, provided that its quarrelling complement of Muscovy ducks can be avoided. From the Bell, a delightful pub with overhanging gables, black timbers and white pargeting, a row of attractive old cottages sweeps steeply down the side of the green. Most are also black-timbered and white-plastered. Others, in an unusual style, have maroon-painted timbers.
To the right of the pond is the gate to The Lordship, a large Georgian house attached to the remains of a Norman keep that was partly demolished in 1212. When the house was built, the keep was to some extent restored and improved upon. On the whole, the fairy-tale look is highly successful, especially in spring when the mound of the keep is carpeted with snowdrops. Both the gardens and the Folly’, as its owner calls it, are open to the public at certain times of the year.
Past The Lordship’s gates is the church, on its mound above the green. Inside are faded medieval wall-paintings of maroon flowers - perhaps the inspiration for the maroon-timbered cottages. There are two tombs, each bearing effigies of a knight and his lady One is 14th century, the other 15th century. The earlier knight wears chain mail and his lady has long, flowing hair. The later knight has plate armour, and his wife wears a wimple.