17 Friar Lane

17 Friar Lane post-regeneration

17 Friar Lane was built in the 1750s for William Bentley, and has been described as 'the handsomest Georgian House'.

Further information

Brief history 

It is possible that land on which the house was built was formerly part of the Herrick family house and gardens, which had been divided up and sold throughout the years.

During the early 19th Century, the building was occupied by the Barratt family, but when John Barratts' son, Thomas died, his daughter inherited the building. Mary Jane Barratt, who married reverend Richard Fawsett, lived in the house until 1852 when they leased it to Dr Benfield. From then on the Benfield family, along with their staff, lived there and in 1866 Dr Benfield brought the house.

Trade directories show that not only did Benfield live there, but it also doubled as his surgery. During his time at the house, Dr Benfield built the rear wing and extended the garden by buying part of the Greyfriars land. The Benfield's were the last family to use the building as their residence. Dr Benfield died in 1890 and his widow inherited the house until her death in 1903.

After this point it had many various uses:

  • In 1906 the doctors's trustees leased it to Wyggeston Girls Junior School, with a rent of ¬£100 per year.
  • Remained a school until 1915 when the county council bought the house and its land for ¬£12,930. At this point it became the county health department and a public health lab was built in the servants rooms on the upper floor. the county council continued to extend the property and built new offices in the gardens in 1920.
  • In 1935, the county council faced issues when they wanted to add a new storey. There was public outcry against this as it was believed that it would ruin the Georgian building. The county council was then forced to negotiate and build the extension between Greyfriars and Friar Lane, making sure to design it so that it blended with the old architecture.
  • In 1968 the county council left the offices and has been owned by us since then.