A market town and Chapelry in that part of the parish of WHALLEY which is in the higher division of the hundred of BLACKBURN, county palatine of LANCASTER, 35 miles (S.E.) from Lancaster, and 217 (N.N.W.) from London, containing 7274 inhabitants. This place is supposed by the geographer of Ravenna to have been a Roman station, the site of which is by Whitaker, the historian of Manchester, referred to Castor Cliff, a lofty eminence about a mile south of the town, where are still the vestiges of a quadrilateral camp, one hundred and twenty yards in length, and one hundred and ten in breadth, surrounded by a double vallum and fosse. This camp is by Whitaker, the historian of the “Ancient parish of Whalley,” considered only as the castra aestiva of the primary station, which, perhaps on better authority, he places in the low grounds beneath the town, and near the bank of the Colne-water, but of which every vestige has been obliterated by cultivation.
Numerous Roman coins have been found at various times, and among them several of Gordianus and other emperors, enclosed in a large silver cup turned up by the plough in 1986. The town, which is of great antiquity, appears to have arisen with Lancaster, Manchester, and other towns in the county, soon after its conquest by Agricola, in the year seventy-nine, and derives its name either from Colunio, the supposed name of the Roman station, or from the Saxon Culme, coal, with which the neighborhood abounds: it is situated on an elevated point of land between the river Calder and the Leeds and Liverpool canal; the streets are paved, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water conveyed by pipes from Flass spring, about two miles distant, under the management of a company formed for that purpose.
A subscription library has been established under good regulations, and is well conducted. The woolen manufacture was carried on here previously to the arrival of the Flemings in England in the time of Edward III., as appears from the rent-roll of the last Henry de Lacy, lord of the manor, in 1311, in which a fulling-mill is returned as being valued at 6s.8d. per annum: the manufacture of shalloons, calimancoes, and tammies, was also extensively carried on, for the sale of which a Piece Hall was erected in 1775, by a company of proprietors, on a plot of ground on the south side of the town, presented by Banastre Watson, Esq., of Marsden Hall; it is a substantial stone building, containing two spacious rooms, and was for many years the principal mart in the district for woollen and worsted goods, but is now appropriated to the sale of general merchandise at the annual fairs only.
The manufacture is at present the principal branch of business, the chief articles are calico and dimity for the Manchester market, both of them being made to a considerable extent: the machinery for spinning the cotton is chiefly put in motion by water, but partly by steam.
The Leeds and Liverpool canal passes through a tunnel a mile in length, at a small distance from the town, affording a facility of conveyance for the coal, freestone, slate, and lime, with which the neighboring hills abound, and for the produce of the manufactories.
The market days are Wednesday and Saturday; and on the last Wednesday in every month is a large cattle market: the fairs are on March 7th, May 13th for cattle, and 15th for pedlary, October 11th, and December 21st.
The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates: a constable is annually chosen by such of the inhabitants as are assessed to the county rate; and a court baron is held by the lord of the manor.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Chester, endowed with £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Vicar of Whalley. The chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, is a very ancient structure, erected probably soon after the Conquest: in the reign of Henry I. it was given to the priory of Pontefract by Hugh de Val; it was substantially repaired, or partly rebuilt, in the reign of Henry VIII., when the only remains preserved of the original building were the finely carved screen at the entrance and on the sides of the choir, and three massive circular columns in the north aisle, one of which, being undermined by some recent interments, suddenly gave way in 1815, and endangered the whole building, which has since been rendered firm and secure.
There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Methodists of the New Connexion.
The grammar school is of very uncertain foundation: it is endowed with about £15 per annum, for which six boys are taught free, four of them by means of a bequest of £40 from Thomas Blakey, Esq., in 1687. The old school-room was taken down, and on its site a new one erected by subscription, in 1812. Dr. Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, received the rudiments of his education at this school.
A school was founded in 1746, at Laneshaw Bridge, by John Emmot, Esq., in which twenty children of the tenants on the Emmot estate are gratuitously instructed. There are also Sunday schools for one thousand four hundred and fifty children, in connection with the established church and the several dissenting congregations.
From: Topographical Dictionary of England..., by Samuel Lewis, Vol. 1, London, 1831, page 498.
Entered here 20 August 2004 by Lynn Ransom Burton.