Leyland is situated in the beautiful county of Lancashire in the Northwest of England. Its prosperity founded from the mills of Lancashire and the local firm of Leyland Motors who produced their first bus in 1927, to mention only a couple of the prestigious businesses which have made Leyland one of Lancashire’s foremost Industrial towns of the past.
Lancashire being the shortened form of Lancaster-shire, which means “the region of the camp on the Lone”. Before the ‘shires’, areas of Land were called Hundreds, a Saxon name, capable of supporting a hundred families and also capable of providing 100 fighting men, the Leyland Hundred was mentioned in the Doomsday book, of 1086. Leyland was then the center of the Hundred which extended as far as Standish and Rufford. It was also a detailed record of the tenants and land, used for the purpose of taxation.
Evidence has been found that there was a church on the present site which dates back to the 12th Century, but no one knows how Christianity was brought to Leyland but is thought to be due to the Roman army or as a result of missionary expeditions from Ireland and Scotland hence the name Saint Andrew. The ancient parish included the townships of Leyland; Euxton; Cuerden; Whittle-le Woods; Clayton-le Woods; Heapey; Wheelton; Withnell and Houghton.
There are two legends as to why the church was built in Leyland and not in Whittle-le Woods as first intended.
The initial stone was laid on a site in Whittle-le-Woods, and materials brought to the site, but the next morning they had all disappeared. It was then reported that they had mysteriously been found in Leyland, the miller who owned the land was very displeased. The priest from the original site travelled to Leyland to find that the materials had indeed been moved. Between the priest, miller and local people they returned the materials back to the original site at Whittle-le Woods. For security two men were to keep vigil over the materials overnight, but soon fell asleep for a short time. On waking they found the building materials had one again vanished. Again these same materials were found in Leyland, and again they were returned to the original site. This time the priest stayed until midnight with the men. Almost as soon as the priest had left one of the men was startled by a large black cat, with huge eyes and a barbed tail. It picked up a large stone easily and ran off, returning almost immediately for another one. The men watched for some time until one of them gathered enough courage to pick up a piece of wood to hit the animal on the head, before he could deliver another blow the animal attacked him. The other man fled in search of the priest. On there return the cat and materials had again disappeared, and the other poor man had died. So legend has it, the church was built on the site chosen by the cat.
A second legend is about an “Angel”- An angel was given credit for the transference of the foundations, with the utterance of the following rhyme:-
“Here I have placed thee,
And here thou shalt stand,
And thou shalt be called
The Church of Leyland”