History of our Church
Foundation of "St Andrew's"
Whilst limited evidence exists of Church activity round Benton from the 7th and 8th centuries, it is from the mid-12th Century that the existence of the Parish of Long Benton can be assured, as the church can name its rectors from 1150 to the present day. Dr G.W.D. Briggs, in his publication 'St. Bartholomew's Church', states that 'there is a reference to transfer of the advowson by Roger de Merlay dated 1251 and then of the foundation of a chantry in honour of the Virgin Mary by 'Adam of Benton' dated 23 December 1310. This foundation names the church of St Andrew in Benton,' and was established to serve the village of Long Benton. Due to the nature of the terrain around the old village, in particular its rockiness and shallow soil, the church was founded on its present site as this was the nearest available suitable location.
In 1339/1340, the church was transferred to the patronage of Balliol College Oxford, the current patrons of the Church today, following an offence being committed by John de Balliol, father of the Scottish Pretender, against Durham's Prince Bishop in 1260, forcing the aforementioned John de Balliol to sell his lands at Long Benton. The revenue raised eventually contributed to the establishment of the College in Oxford, and subsequently they became our Patrons. When the Parish needs a new Priest, it is the job of the Patrons to present the Bishop with a list of suitable candidates, and from this the Bishop appoints the new incumbent.
The new church
By 1790, the Church had fallen into great disrepair, and had reached a stage where rebuilding was the only remaining option. The architect employed was William Newton, who designed and built the nave and tower over the foundations of the original church. Dr Besly, vicar of the parish from 1830 writes 'the chancel, which was then the responsibility of Balliol College, was left in its original state in consequence of the disinclination of the lessees of the great tithes to undertake the expense of rebuilding it,' and the church was dedicated in honour of Saint Bartholomew and was consecrated by the Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Reverend Dr John Hinchcliffe on 2 November 1791.
The Chancel was rebuilt in 1855, with an Organ Chamber and South Aisle being added in 1874. The Vestry was added in 1888 and the date of the porch is uncertain.
In 1980 a new, octagonal Church Hall was constructed, replacing an earlier 'Parish Hall' on the other side of Station Road which had been opened in 1925. The old church hall had stood on the site of the old tithe house, and had been used to house the local school for a period. In 1994, a new Chapel, Parish Office and Library were dedicated by the Bishop of Newcastle.