Arthur Bennett (1915-1994) was a Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, sometime Rector of Little Munden and Sacombe, Hertfordshire, and was for seventeen years a tutor in Biblical Theology and Christian Doctrine at All Nations Christian College. He died in October 1994 aged 79. Canon Bennett has been highly appreciated across the world for his book of Puritan prayers The Valley of Vision. This title was published by the Trust in 1975 and it has been widely valued ever since. The quiet, devotional ethos of its pages was the ethos in which the author lived. Bennett did not live to see the wide influence the book was to have, particularly in the United States, following his death.
Arthur Bennett was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, and moved with his family to Barnsley when he was five years old. He left elementary school at the age of thirteen to work as a ‘lather boy’ in his father’s barber’s shop. He gave his life to Christ in his mid-teens at a Salvation Army mission in the town, and became convinced that God wanted him to serve in some form of Christian ministry.
In 1934 he joined the Church of England ‘Church Army,’ and was assigned to what was then the common practice of ‘caravan evangelism,’ becoming a member of a number of teams travelling around Britain. By the mid 1930’s he was spending considerable time in the villages of East Anglia, travelling in a horse-drawn caravan, with other church army cadets and a captain. They worked with the local parish churches and communities to share the gospel. It was while serving in the village of Elmsett, Suffolk, that Arthur met and fell in love with Margarette Jones (from Carmarthenshire in South Wales), who was teaching in the village school.
In 1940 Bennett was accepted by Clifton Theological College, Bristol, and completed a two-year course leading to ordination in the Church of England. That same year (1942), he and Margarette were married in St. Johns Church Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire. In thirty-nine years of ministry Arthur served the parishes of Christ Church, Huddersfield; St Mary’s, Chesham; Gunton, Lowestoft; Christ Church, Ware; and ultimately, through the years 1964-1981, All Saints, Little Munden, Hertfordshire. Through the latter period he was also a Lecturer at All Nations Christian College.
He retired to Clapham, Bedfordshire, but continued his writing and preaching. In 1992 he and Margarette celebrated 50 years of marriage and ministry together. After a short illness Arthur died in 1994 and was buried in the churchyard at Little Munden, Hertfordshire. The inscription on his gravestone reads, ‘Let me find thy joy in my valley.’ Margarette died in 1997 and the inscription ‘In Thy presence is fulness of joy’ was added to the headstone. They left five children and fourteen grandchildren.
At his funeral, the Bishop of St Albans said, ‘Never one to take centre stage, Arthur has always sought to deflect attention from himself to others, and supremely to the Lord Jesus Christ.’ In addition to The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett was the author of several titles by other publishers: Rural Evangelism (London: A.R. Mowbray, 1949), Table and Minister (London: Church Bookroom Press, 1963), Travels with a Horse-Drawn Caravan (Worthing: Churchman Publishing, 1989), and Calvary’s Hill (London: Avon Books, 1993).