Rushall, West Midlands
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Rushall Parish Church,
dedicated to St Michael The Archangel
|Population||11,871 (2011, Rushall-Shelfield Ward)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
Rushall is a large English village in the West Midlands. It is centred on the main road between Walsall and Lichfield, and was mostly developed after 1920. It was served by Rushall (West Midlands) railway station for about 100 years until the 1960s, although the railway which ran between Walsall and Lichfield remained open for freight 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, 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 started 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. The first mention of a place of worship in 1220 describes it as a chapel of Walsall. However, the lords of Rushall they secured the chapel's parish status. In 1440, John Harpur rebuilt Rushall Church on the chapel's site next to his manor house, which survived the English Civil War to be rebuilt in 1854–1866. The old square tower of the house 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 occurred chiefly in Ryecroft, on the north side of Walsall, where the inhabitants were mainly 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 Bowles and passed, via Sir William Grobbere, to the Harpurs, one of whom, John Harpur Esq, endowed the vicarage, and rebuilt the church in about 1444. Early in the 17th century, the manor devolved to the Leighs, from whom it passed to the Very Rev Edward Mellish, Dean of Hereford, whose executors, W. and G. Mellish, B. Gurdon and W. Tritton became 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 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 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, Sir Edward Leigh was an MP and an opponent of the King. He fortified Rushall Hall and joined the Parliamentary Army, being appointed 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. Sir Edward Leigh's younger son was the metaphysical poet Richard Leigh. 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 a square. It was served by Anglican, Methodist and Congregational places of worship 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 and Manor Farm. There remain two primary schools and one Key Stage 4 centre. Rushall also has a pre-school, within Manor Farm, called Piccolo Bambini.
Kings Road Chapel in Rushall holds events and activities for the local community.
- "Walsall Ward population 2011". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
- The Topographer, Sir Egerton Brydges (1790)
- History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield (1851)
- Rushall in history
- Neighbourhood Statistics
- Schools and service directory
- Retrieved 15 March 2018.