Benhall village signSternfield village sign

The villages of Benhall and Sternfield are just a mile or two South of Saxmundham and in parts are separated by the A12 and the River Fromus. Benhall itself is spread out comprising the hamlets of Benhall Low Street, Silverlace Green and Benhall Green, with the parish church of St Mary further isolated from any dwellings along Deadman's Lane. The church has box pews and a Jacobean pulpit and is often open to visitors. In Benhall Green there is a ford crossing the Fromus and nearby is The Wadd, a protected marshland site. There is a small village primary school in Benhall Green, and in the same street is a house of 1698 with distinctive pargetting. Benhall has a very lively Annual Show in August.

Benhall Low Street is a small hamlet enjoying a quiet rural setting with the River Alde meandering through the fields and woods in the area. There are many lovely walks with tended footpaths leading to the historical Benhall church and The Walled Garden and to the Riverside Centre where there is a playground as well as the community hall of the neighbouring parish of Stratford St Andrew .

Low Street is a also a delight for cycling enthusiasts as the area offers quiet lanes and attractive pubs within a few miles for a break situated in the small neighbouring villages of Sweffling and Great Glenham .

Signposted off at Bigsby's Corner is Sternfield with the parish church of St Mary Magdalene and Sternfield House situated in the same grounds. The church has a painting by Benjamin West of Christ healing the blind man . During the 1960s and 1970s Lt. Col. Sir Eric Penn MC and Lady Prudence Penn lived at Sternfield House, a large house next to the church with extensive gardens and as Sir Eric was the comptroler of the Lord Chamberlain's office and was a very trusted presence in Buckingham Palace, senior members of the royal family came and stayed at Sternfield House on a number of occasions. Princess Margaret came most often, but the Queen also came at least once and attended St Mary Magdalene's, as did the Queen Mother.


The manor of Benhall was granted in 1086 to Robert de Malet, and has since had a long and complicated history, having been owned by many of the most powerful people of their time, including King Henry VIII.

The great house of the area is Benhall Lodge. A manor house had existed on the Benhall estate since at least 1225, when it was fortified by Ralph de Sunderland. The property known as Benhall Lodge was originally created in 1638 for the then Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Duke, and was rebuilt in 1790 by William Beaumaris Rush, and then by Edward Hollond esq, in 1810. The mansion house has suffered serious fires in 1885 and in 1967, and was restored and slightly remodelled after each.

The walled kitchen garden of the country house is now a separate business concern, The Walled Garden Nursery, but the house itself and the surrounding gardens and parkland remain private residential property.