Sharnbrook is a North Bedfordshire village located 9 miles north of Bedford, just off the A6 and to the north of the River Great Ouse where it meets the brook that gives the village its name. The village has its origins in Saxon times and the name is probably of Saxon origin ‘Sharnbrook’ means ‘dung brook’. The Domesday Book of 1086 holds the earliest recorded evidence of Sharnbrook.
The village developed through agriculture, there were a number of landowners and many villagers held their cottages and the small pieces of land attached to them from the lord of a manor, in return for doing various agricultural jobs on the lords land.
St Peters Church is the oldest surviving building in the village. The church was originally Norman and the first recorded rector was William in about 1155. The Norman church was remodelled in the 13th Century, with further additions in the 14th, 15th and 17th Centuries in a mixture of architectural styles.
The 17th Century saw a great period of building in the village, including Tofte Manor to the north side of the village and a number of houses at the lower end of the High Street. The old stone houses were originally small farm cottages, with individual strips of land behind them.
Sharnbrook was home to eight manors, of which only three remain today including Tofte Manor but also Ouse Manor to the southeast of the village and Colworth House to the west and now home to Unilever. The others live on in road names around the village including Templars Way, Loring Road and Grange Gardens.
High Street (South) Circa 1900
The village developed as a commercial centre in the 19th Century. The railway came to Sharnbrook in 1857 and in 1871; there were millers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, tailors, drapers, bakers and corn merchants in the village. A village school was founded in 1836, now John Gibbard Lower School, and a Police Station in 1872, now residential flats. The railway station closed in 1960 due to lack of demand.
High Street (North) Circa 1906
Today the village is home to around 2300 people and is a desirable place to live. Major housing development took place between 1960 and 1985 including the Manor Farm estate, the Loring Road area and Brittons Close, with small amounts of infilling in other areas, notably the development of Hall Close in the 1990′s, on the site of the old village hall. Sharnbrook has good connections by road to the nearby towns of Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes. A regular commuter train service into London Kings Cross and to Luton Airport runs from Bedford Station.
Sharnbrook is well catered for by the village shops which include a baker, butcher, co-op supermarket, newsagent and grocer. These shops also cater for the smaller neighbouring villages of Souldrop and Felmersham. Sharnbrook has a lower school and also is home to Sharnbrook Upper School, a highly respected secondary school.
If you would like to know more about Sharnbrook’s history you might be interested in buying ‘Sharnbrook into the New Millenium’
A small illustrated book with over 100 pages on the history of Sharnbrook, past to present, available to purchase for £5.00 + £1.00 pp (UK only). If you are interested please send a cheque for £6.00 payable to Sharnbrook Parish Council with your name and address to The Parish Clerk, Riverside Lodge, 33 Mill Road, Sharnbrook MK44 1NX
An album of impressive photos of Sharnbrook and the surroundings has been created by Chris Haydon and is available on CD at £7.50 or DVD at £10. Contact Chris on tel: 01234 782196 or by email.