WHALLEY was once the ecclesiastical capital of east Lancashire and its parish was the largest in England. Its church, St Mary, All Saints, which was founded in the Dark Ages, was the minster church for the area, which then included Burnley, Accrington, Nelson, and Colne, as well as various villages within the Ribble and Calder valleys.

When the Cistercian monks arrived at the end of the 13th century to found Whalley Abbey, they became a unified and powerful body, which played a role in most aspects of local life.

More than 200 years later the Abbey was dissolved after its involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace – the rebellion against Henry VIII – and Abbot Paslew was executed for high treason.

There are three Anglo Saxon crosses in the churchyard which today bear witness to the antiquity of Whalley church, as well as a sun dial, which dates back to the early 1700s.

One of the oldest streets in the village in Church Lane, once part of the ancient Whalley to Ribchester road, but bypassed when the old turnpike roads were introduced.

Here, at one time was the village well and cross and in later years one of the properties here was the Bluebell Inn. In 1806 two cottages were made into one and the upper rooms became the first Methodist chapel in the village.

Poole End took its name from the ancient fish ponds kept by the monks from the Abbey – on old maps the water courses are marked as canals. Whalley Grammar School was first established at the West Gate, near the Abbey, and is thought to be the successor of the schools provided by the monks for the education of boys from wealthier families from the area. It moved in the 1720s to the Stocks Hill area of the village – so known because the village stocks, used for the punishment of minor misdemeanours were to be found where Mitton Road meets Clitheroe Road and King Street.

The war memorial built in 1921 to honour those who died in the First World War stands before it. Just off Mitton Road work began in 1907 on the extensive Calderstones Hospital and because of its size, homes for people who worked there were also erected. In 1914, when building was almost complete, it was put to use as a military hospital for wounded soldiers and was known as Queen Mary’s Military Hospital.

Its own railway lines were constructed and hospital trains carrying hundreds of wounded from the battlefields of Flanders regularly arrived at the hospital from Southampton.

It reopened for its original purpose in 1921, but was called into service again during the Second World War, later nursing back to health many of the British prisoners of war who came home in 1945.