Few communities could claim to be more richly steeped in Yorkshire history than Bentham, taking it back to the Domesday Book where St John the Baptist Church was noted.
Through the centuries which followed the town’s market developed, as did a weaving industry.
While St John’s – one of several churches between the villages of High and Low Bentham – has survived, it has had an eventful history, being virtually destroyed in the 14th Century and rebuilt in today’s form in the 19th Century.
Bentham Agricultural Show began in that century and has become a fixture of the community’s calendar, albeit with a recent absence because of the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting the wider farming community.
Today, Bentham continues to thrive as a small but active community with facilities that belie the size of its 3,000 strong population.
The agricultural show itself is a showcase not just for the livestock reared in the district, but is also supported by those who produce handicrafts.
A summer one-day carnival also helps to unite the community and other events at the Auction Mart site help to keep the town’s residents tightly bonded.
The level of public participation is highlighted by the success of Pioneer Projects, a large charity focused on wellbeing, which emerged from a community arts group. That flourished and grew to offer a breadth of facilities unusual in a town of its size.
Bentham Town Council is also at the heart of the community, but ultimately it is residents who make the town what it is.
North Yorkshire County Councillor David Ireton, who represents the community, said: “Modern society provides many challenges for rural communities but Bentham residents have always worked as a team and that means the area has, and continues to, thrive.
“The community may be small in numbers but that doesn’t stop people working hard and putting on a whole range of events and activities.”