Long Bennington is the largest village in the Saxonwell Group of parishes, with over 1900 residents. It lies 7 miles from the historic market town of Newark and 8 miles from Grantham, on the southern edge of the Lincoln Diocese, bordering Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and the beautiful Vale of Belvoir. Its position next to the A1 trunk road makes it quickly accessible to most parts of the country. In addition, the electrified London/North Eastern railway line, accessible from Newark and Grantham, makes commuting to London and other major cities a practical proposition. School buses are provided for most Grantham secondary schools.
The village is about a mile long, having developed along the route of the old A1, which has now by-passed us. The church and rectory are at the southern end. A well used playing fields and pavilion and outdoor bowls club are at the north end. In between are: an excellent Church of England Primary School, Methodist Church, three shops, including a Post Office (and a part time fish & chip shop) three pubs, a caring, efficient medical centre/pharmacy and a modern, wellused village hall, children's nursery and after school club. A mobile library visits regularly. The facilities and services make the village almost self-contained.
It is an attractive village, with wide grass verges, a meandering river and many pleasant footpaths: semi-rural, but definitely within civilization.
The village has changed considerably since it was designated as an area of growth and housing development in the 1980's. Most of the new building has been of 4/5 bedroom ‘executive' houses. The population now comprises a high number of professional people who commute. This makes for a highly mobile community as people move frequently with their work. A substantial number of people work from home. There are also a high number of affluent retired people, who are very active in village life. This is mixed with the traditional village population, many of whose names are the same as those found in the census of 1861. There is a small area of council houses, and a council-run old people's complex, but most of the village comprises privately owned property.
The primary school, built in the 1980's, with several additions, is a happy, popular school with an active parent/teacher association. Its excellent Ofsted reports, coupled with the housing expansion, have resulted in its steady growth. There is a good working relationship between the school and church.
Long Bennington is fortunate to have many clubs and social activities, ranging from a Mother and Toddler and Playgroups to a Friendship club for senior citizens. Evening and day classes in several subjects are conducted in the village hall, school and sports pavilion. For the physically active, there are football, hockey, tennis and bowls clubs, and the pubs sport darts and skittles teams.
Long Bennington is a lively and attractive place in which to live and work.
Long Bennington is twinned with a similarly sized village in France and there is an active Twinning group in the village.
St. Swithun's Church, Long Bennington
The current church dates from about 1175; the chancel of which is thought to have been used by the Cistercian Priory, whose existence is recorded in 1150.
The building has been added to and refurbished over the years. In 1999 the tower area was converted to form an upper room for meetings and a kitchen and toilet on the ground floor. It was a magnificent conversion, much admired and has brought life into the church. A Millennium Grant Bid was produced by members of the PCC and was successful in obtaining Millennium Grant Aid. It was only one of 100 selected, out of thousands of applications. This paid half the costs, with the express intention of being used by village organisations as well as the church.
There is permanent seating for about 180 people, with folding chairs for any overflow. Some pews were removed in recent years to make more versatile space.
Long Bennington churchyard merits special attention because of its status as one of the leading conservation areas, belonging to a church, in the UK. Through much thought, prayer and sheer hard work, a happy balance has been achieved between the needs of nature and sensibilities of parishioners. This has been achieved, almost entirely, by the dedication of one person, Gordon Scott. We are most grateful to him.
Long Bennington is fortunate in having a strong local ministry team, which was set up about fifteen years ago. Three of these original ministers are still working in the parish. Their work has been of invaluable assistance to the past and present rectors. Their work has also had the effect of a growing realisation that the Church is its congregation, not just the building or the ordained priest.
A variety of worship is offered in the Parish. Informal Worship on the first and third Sundays is led by local ministers each month. Holy Communion is offered on the second and fourth Sundays. On one Sunday per month an early morning service of the Book of Common Prayer is offered. On fifth Sundays joint services for all four parishes have been held in rotation around the group. There is also a new service - Tea Time Church held in the Village Hall on the first Sunday of the month.
The ministry team and helpers have held a St Swithun's holiday club for 1 to 3 mornings during the Half-term, Easter and summer school holidays. These sessions have been attended by up to 80 children from the village school. They involve a short talk, prayer, singing, craft activities and games, sometimes culminating in a special family service at church. Other special services for families, which draw larger than normal congregations include the Christingle service, Easter service, Palm Sunday service and Pet Blessing service.
The ministry team and church members actively participate in school assemblies, and also several services where the whole school comes to the church to worship. A Church representative is on the board of governors of the School.
There is a regular Home Group, which meets on alternate Wednesdays to enjoy fellowship and study the bible. A walking group has been formed to encourage fellowship and meeting more parishioners.