The settlement was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a parish within the Hundred of Willey but was probably first developed in Saxon times. The oldest surviving building, St Peter's Church, is Norman. The name is believed to be derived from the Anglo Saxon word sharn meaning dung. Many of the older buildings in the village are constructed of the local oolitic limestone, also used in other traditional north Bedfordshire settlements.
Situated just north of a loop in the River Great Ouse and almost due north of Bedford, the village has developed as a ribbon-settlement running south-east to north-west, with the core of the community clustered at the north-western end.
The village has two schools, the larger of which Sharnbrook Academy has a campus on the west of the village, serves a wide area and was attended by the marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, who opened the Paula Radcliffe Sharnbrook Community Sports Centre named after her in April 2005. This Community Sports Centre is not only for students but also serves the wider local community of North Bedfordshire with sporting facilities. Students are aged from 11 to 18 and take both GCSE and A Level exams. The village's other school is Sharnbrook Primary which caters for young children aged from 3–11 years old who live in the immediate area.
Another major presence is the multinational company Unilever which has a research centre on the north-western edge of the village. This uses the grounds of Colworth House, originally built in the early 17th century and rebuilt in its present form by 1774 as a private house. The house itself is used as office space, with modern laboratory buildings beside and behind it. The site is being turned into a science park for use by a number of companies.
Sharnbrook is home to Sharnbrook Women's Football Club which was established in 2002. SWFC currently play in the Beds and Herts Division 1. The club's honours include the 2006/7 Beds and Herts league and cup double and the 2015/16 Beds and Herts Division 2 league title. The team currently play on a Sunday afternoon and wear blue and red vertical striped shirts with interchangeable blue and red shorts and socks.
Sharnbrook is home to many other sporting teams that both greatly predate the women's football team and significantly outstrip it in popularity.
Sharnbrook railway station opened in 1857, but was closed in 1960.
Sharnbrook is home to a colony of red kites.
Britain's youngest father
In 1998, Sharnbrook resident Shaun Stewart become the youngest father in Britain at only twelve years of age. He lived next door to the mother of his child, who was four years older than he. The child was conceived when the pair were only 11 and 15. The girl said Stewart had told her he was her age when they started going out. Some also consider Stewart to be the youngest father ever recorded.
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "The hundred of Willey: Introduction - British History Online". british-history.ac.uk.
- "Parishes: Sharnbrook - British History Online". british-history.ac.uk.
- "Home". sharnbrookwomensfc.co.uk.
- Kate Watson-Smyth (20 January 1998). "Sean, 12, is the youngest father". independent.co.uk.
- "Who is the youngest father – Kgb Answers". kgbanswers.com. 2 February 2012.
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