Shareshill is a small village lying 6 miles north of Wolverhampton and 4 miles south-west of Cannock just off the A460. The name Shareshhill originates from the Old English 'scraef-scylf', meaning a hill by a narrow valley. It is not possible to say exactly when people settled in this area, but Shareshill and the neighbouring hamlets of Great and Little Saredon were mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Whilst retaining its agricultural nature and surrounding network of lanes, Shareshill is nowadays a dormitory village for workers in the West Midlands conurbation, with the nearby M6 and M54 motorways giving convenient travelling for commuters. Most of the houses are modern and privately owned, but there are a few old buildings still remaining; Manor House Farm, Orchbrook House and Little Saredon Manor have features which date from the 17th century.
At the highest point of the village stands the church of St Mary and St Luke, the most important feature of the village architecturally, socially and spiritually. In the 13th century the church was dedicated to St Luke, but at some time, possibly during the Reformation, it was re-dedicated 'in honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary'. It is thought at no other church in the country had been so dedicated, at least up to 1864.
A well-known vicar of Shareshill from 1860 to 1870 was William Henry Havergal, honorary canon of Worcester cathedral, and also a hymn writer and composer - as was his daughter Frances Ridley Havergal. He composed the tune Consecration to her words Take my life and it be which she used in her house meetings. The village school, which opened on its present site in 1872, is named after the Havergals and the school hymn is Take my life.
Hilton Hall, built around 1700 and a fine example of a Queen Anne house, has been completely renovated by an international construction conglomerate for their own use. It was formerly the home of the Vernon family, benefactors of the church and the village, referred to locally during at least the last 200 years as the squires of the village. The estate was split up and sold in 1951 due to heavy death duties.
At the turn of the century Shareshill sustained several shops and four public houses. Today, there is one shop/post office, one public house/restaurant, a garage, livery and riding stables, a large indoor equestrian centre at Hilton Park and a blacksmith. The blacksmith, Vic Bailey, who runs a flourishing business at Little Saredon, has worked there for over 60 years. When he started work as a lad of 14 there were around 30 heavy working horses in the area, but now his work is mainly with children's ponies and horses from the local riding school.
The only local industry is still farming, as it was in 1086. All the farms are family-owned, some having been in the family for several generations. Although farming is completely mechanised now, the area is well known for the magnificent Shire horses bred by Neville Arblaster at Saredon Hall Farm. His horses have won many prizes at major agricultural shows and his foals are exported worldwide.
The village information above is taken from The Staffordshire Village Book, written by members of the Staffordshire Federation of Women's Institutes and published by Countryside Books. Click on the link Countryside Books to view Countryside's range of other local titles.