Armitage is situated in the Trent Valley, close to Rugeley, and adjacent to the Trent and Mersey Canal. The name of this village is known world-wide as a result of the sanitary ware manufactured here for many years by Armitage Shanks. The name ‘Armitage’ derives from ‘hermitage’, since a hermitage is believed to have been here in the 13th century on a site between the church and the river. The parish also includes Handsacre, meaning Hand’s or Hond’s field or ground.
Armitage is not recorded in the Domesday Survey but Handsacre is recorded as ‘Hadesacre’ and as held by the Bishop of Chester. It consisted of sufficient arable land for seven ploughs. A moated site is recorded at Handsacre and this was Handsacre Hall. Drama touched Handsacre during the civil disturbances of the late 14th century. Sir William Handsacre and his neighbour, Sir Robert Mavesyn, were separately on their way to Shrewsbury to join the rival armies of Richard II and Henry of Lancaster, Sir William supporting the King and Sir Robert supporting the usurper, Henry.
En route they met. There was a skirmish and Sir William was killed by Sir Robert. Sir Robert himself was killed shortly afterwards at the Battle of Shrewsbury. However, Sir Robert’s daughter and heiress, Margaret, subsequently married the son of Sir William, ensuring that peace reigned between the two neighbouring families, despite the death of one father at the hand of another.
In 1666 a total of 52 households were recorded for the Hearth Tax, the largest houses being Hawkesyard Hall and Handsacre Hall. By 1801 the population of both Armitage and Handsacre was 464, rising to 1,318 by 1901.