History of St Mary and All Saints Church, Whalley
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.