The place-name 'Tixall' is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Ticheshale. Deriving from Old English, the name means 'the hollow of the goats'.
It is a fairly elongated village lying to the west of Great Haywood and just north of the sprawling Shugborough estate, the River Sow forming the natural boundary between the two, which joins the Trent on the Shugborough estate a mile or so east of Tixall. The village has benefited substantially from its close proximity to such affluent estates as Shugborough to the south and Sandon Hall and Ingestre Hall to the north, homes of the Earl of Lichfield, the Earl of Harrowby and the Earl of Shrewsbury respectively. Also passing nearby to the east and through the Trent valley is the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, which expands into a body of water called Tixall Wide near to Tixall Gatehouse.
Tixall Hall was the home of the Aston family, who held the title Lord Aston of Forfar. They were staunch Roman Catholics and Tixall was the centre of the local Catholic community. During the Popish Plot Tixall briefly became notorious as the centre of the alleged conspiracy to kill King Charles II, and many victims of the plot such as William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford were questioned intensively as to their actions while at Tixall.
The 16th century 3-storey gatehouse of the now-demolished Tixall Hall, built by the Aston family, is in the care of the Landmark Trust, which offers it as a holiday let.
There is a sandstone obelisk in Tixall dated 1776 sat in a triangle where the road from Stafford meets the road from Milford. It is said to have been placed there by Thomas Clifford, who owned the estate at the time.