Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Fenny Bentley

  • Comment

The aluminium industry celebrated the centenary of the use of the material in building last year, based on the completion of the aluminium-clad dome of San Gioacchino in Rome in 1897, with the slogan '1897-1997 - 100 years of durability.'

Research by Hoogovens has now revealed an even earlier example of aluminium in building, and much closer to home: at St Edmund's, the parish church of Fenny Bentley, a picturesque village just north of Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

The sixteenth-century church is famous for a monument which commemorates Thomas Beresford, his wife, 16 sons and five daughters. The ceiling of the family chapel, in the north-west corner, is made up of decorated aluminium panels with wooden bosses (carved by members of the rector's wood-carving class), one of which shows the date of 1895. This is accepted by local people as the date the ceiling was installed.

The price of aluminium was reduced dramatically at about this time, due to the introduction of the electrolytic process, and for the first time it was available in commercial quantities. The new ceiling was painted with pictures of angels as well as figures to commemorate the end of the War of the Roses.

'The aluminium ceiling has not shown any real sign of ageing and as far as I am aware has required no maintenenace since it was installed 103 years ago,' the Rev Christopher Harrison, the present vicar, said. 'There seems to be no doubt about the date the ceiling was built. It is fascinating to think that Fenny Bentley church figures so early in the use of aluminium in building, and even pre-dates the completion of San Gioacchino in Rome.'

Unfortunately Fenny Bentley church, like so many around the country, has been subject to break-ins and burglaries in recent years and is locked for much of the time. For those wishing to pay a visit, the keys are available from the local post office.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.