Rushall, West Midlands
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Rushall shown within the West Midlands
|Metropolitan county||West Midlands|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
Rushall is a residential area of Walsall in the West Midlands of England. It is centred on the main road between Walsall and Lichfield, and was mostly developed after 1920. It was served by a railway station for about 100 years until the 1960s, though the railway which ran between Walsall and Lichfield remained open to goods trains until 1983.
The first record of Rushall occurs in Domesday Book (1086) where its total annual value to its lord was assessed as 10 shillings. This was from a village of eight households and a mill. The name means 'a place in marshy ground where rushes grow' and the early settlement by the Saxons probably occurred to the north of Rushall Hall, where there are remains of a moated site. 19th century excavations found Saxon coins in earthworks in that area.
The feudal lordship did not originally have its own parish church as the first mention of the church in 1220 describes it as a chapel of Walsall. However, the lords of Rushall were always independent and they secured the chapel's parish status. In 1440, John Harpur rebuilt Rushall Church on the chapel-site next to his Hall. It survived the Civil War to be rebuilt 1854-6. The old square tower remained until 1867.
Rushall is a village and parish on the Lichfield road, one mile (1.6 km) NE of Walsall, containing about 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) of land, abounding in excellent coal and limestone, the latter much celebrated for its superior quality, taking a polish almost equal to marble, and raised from mines nearly 80 yards (73 m) below the surface. The recent large increase in population has occurred chiefly in Ryecroft, on the north side of Walsall, where the inhabitants are chiefly miners.
The most attractive objects in Rushall are the ruins of the ancient Manor house, which, during the wars of the Roses, and of those between Charles I and Parliament, was strongly fortified and defended by a numerous garrison. During the civil wars, a Mr Pitt, of Wolverhampton, attempted to bribe Captain Tuthill to betray the garrison of Rushall, but his treachery was discovered, and he suffered death for it in 1640. Rushall Hall, a modern house, has been built near the ruins.
The manor anciently belonged to the family of Boweles, who passed it to that of Grobbere, and afterwards to the Harpurs, one of whom, John Harpur, Esq, endowed the vicarage, and rebuilt the church about the year 1444. Early in the 17th century, the manor became the property of the Leighs, from whom it passed to the late Rev Edward Mellish, whose executors, W & G Mellish, B Gurdon and W Tritton, Esqrs, are now the principal proprietors and lords of the manor.
Daw End and the Butts are two hamlets within half a mile of Walsall. The limestone mines of this parish are situated at the former, where there is a branch of the Wyrley & Essington Canal. Near to them and Walsall is the populous mining district of Ryecroft, where fine sand is got for the glass manufacturers, and an excellent loam for the foundries.
Rushall Hall today is substantially a 19th-century structure, incorporating walls from the earlier building. At the time that the massive, still surviving, fortified gatehouse and walls were built in the 13th and 14th centuries the house itself was probably made of timber. The Leigh family succeeded to the Harpurs in the middle of the 16th century and took a leading part in county politics. At the start of the Civil War in 1642, Edward Leigh was an MP and an opponent of the King. He fortified the Hall and joined the army as a colonel. His wife, left in command at Rushall, could not hold the Hall against the forces of Prince Rupert in 1643. The royalists in their turn were ejected after a short siege in 1644. During the 18th century the Leighs became absentees as were their successors, the Mellish and Buchanan families. The estate was finally sold off in 1945.
Limestone of high quality lies near the surface at Rushall. It was exploited by the Romans and through the Middle Ages for building and agricultural purposes. The use of limestone as flux for smelting iron caused great expansion in mining during the Industrial Revolution. A new settlement grew up at Daw End, and the Hay Head and Linley workings were both on a large scale. The quarries in Rushall Hall's park flooded to become the Park Lime Pits - today a nature reserve. The Arboretum lakes, then also in Rushall, were similarly formed by quarrying.
In the south west corner of the parish, the areas of Butts and Ryecroft rapidly developed as suburbs of Walsall from the middle of the 19th century. The main settlement at Rushall was established on the Lichfield Road at the junction of Pelsall Lane, Daw End Lane and Coalpool Lane (Station Road) where a toll bar was set up after the main road was turnpiked in 1766.
At the start of the 20th century Rushall was a thriving village set round the Square. It was served by Anglican, Methodist and Congregational chapels and had its own Police Station and Court. Since 1945 Rushall Square has lost much of its character to road improvements. New housing developments, particularly around Barns Lane, have increased the population.
Rushall had two secondary schools, both now closed - Pelsall & Manor Farm. There remains 2 primary schools and one KS4 centre.
Kings Road Chapel in Rushall holds many events and activities for the local community.
Rushall also has one pre school, within Manor Farm called Piccolo Bambini, providing pre school education and learning to all children from birth to 5 years old term time and offers a school holiday club for under 8's.