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Origins of the Parish Church - Brief History






Whalley is the oldest parish in Lancashire; there was a church here in 628 in the period when St. Paulinus was said to have preached at Whalley.

St Mary & All Saints was built on the site of an 8th Century church (known as 'the white church under the leigh')...and a later Norman (circa 1100) church. This Parish Church had 13 chapels belonging to it, including Blackburn and Clitheroe, and the medieval Parish of Whalley was the second-largest in the whole of England and contained 45 Townships, extending from Clitheroe to Haslingden and from Accrington to Colne.

The present church building dates from around 1200 with the tower being added in 1440.

The ancient village of Whalley sits in the middle of the Ribble Valley; in addition to the 13th Century Church there are the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey and the picturesque railway arches.

Christianity in Whalley can be traced back to Paulinus, the first Christian missionary who left Italy in AD 601, at the bidding of Pope Gregory the Great. Legend has it that Paulinus visited

Whalley as the Celtic crosses in the churchyard testify. However the monks came at a comparatively later date.



Roman Coins had been found in the Church Yard - but unfortunatley lost in the Church

The Early History of Whalley - Roman Times

There was no evidence that Whalley was a place of any importance during the Roman occupation of Britain and more locally Ribchester. However the Roman road can be traced from the northern boundary of the parish near Little Mitton to the Roman Fort of Ribchester.

Evidence has also been found at the churchyard in Whalley of Roman coins, but unfortunatley these have been lost in the church.

Also a large block of stone on the south side of the tower appears to exhibit Roman tooling, and another mentioning Flavius, now forming the arch over the inside of the north door of the church.

A second stone now placed in the west end of the north aisle, has a deity carved upon it in high relief of Mars, and the stone itself appears to be part of an alter.

There also is a receptacle, sometimes mistaken for a font, which is a motor used for pounding grain, while certainly ancient, the date of origin in uncertain. It is generally thought that the Roman stones may originate from a Roman structure possible robbed from Ribchester.

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