Bentley Origins  - Kent and Sussex Counties

We spent the last week of our 1997 vacation by travelling to Maidstone in Kent. We established ourselves in a local hotel and used it as a base to tour the County of Kent in particular from the Thames Estuary to the Atlantic Coast to the English Channel. Aside from wishing to view the beautiful countryside and historic sites, I was also interested in finding more about my family history. My mother's side, the Bentley line, originally came from Kent. We visited Lenham and made a discovery about the first Bentley of record; John Bentley, born there in 1787. We also visited the town where my great grandfather William Bentley was born, and the military barracks in which he once lived.

Gail outside our hotel in Maidstone. Each day we drove from here to various places in the Kent area

William Bentley served in the Royal Marine Light Infantry from 1852 until 1868. He spent 8 years "afloat" and 8 years "ashore". These are the barracks he lived in while "ashore" in Chatham.

William was born in the little town of Borden, just south of Chatham. His parents, John Bentley and Susannah Turner came from Lenham, Kent.

This is the parish church in Borden where William Bentley was christened in 1832.

This is Leeds Castle, constructed by the Norman conquerors on the site of a Saxon fort, this beautiful castle was rebuilt by Henry VIII. The interior is in wonderful condition and all of the rooms are furnished with great paintings on the walls throughout. Well worth a visit.

This is Bodiam Castle, built in 1386, an example of medieval military castles, with a moat surrounding the entire castle.

Bodiam Castle again. There were Medieval Games in progress on our visit, and above actors staged an attack on the castle. Tracy managed to buy a replica sword, apparently something she has always desired.

Dover Castle, one of the most powerful medieval fortresses in the world. To the left is Henry II's keep, and to the right is the heavily fortified 13th Century "Constable's Gate".

The Battle of Hastings took place on this site in 1066. William the Conqueror and his Norman knights defeated the Saxon King Harold on this field. Gail is standing at the approximate point of contact between the two forces, with the Normans attacking uphill towards Battle Abbey seen just over Gail's head.

Another view along the line of battle. Over 15,000 men fought for almost 12 hours with swords, battle axes, bows and arrows. The battle was finally won when an arrow pierced the armour and the eye of King Harold.

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The Bentley family has its origins in the beautiful countryside of Kent and Sussex Counties. In addition to the Bentley group that have lived centuries near Lenham, we also have the Turners, Chapmans, Stedmans, Carters, etc. linked by blood and all lived within a 50 mile radius radius of Lenham.

Some momentus events in world and English history have occurred in the surrounding area. The Battle of Hasting in 1066 that brought the Norman’s to power, the results of which still are felt almost one thousand years after. The earliest Britons arrived here from Europe over 10,000 years ago and survived the Ice Age in only the southern part of Britain.

The Jukes of the Denmark Peninsula settled and controlled this area during the Viking control of Britain during the period of 400 to 800 AD.

Churchill visited the underground workings of Dover during the Nazi Blitz, to view the war while awaiting the Invasion Fleet from German occupied France and Europe.

Photo’s from a drive through Kent and Sussex in 1997