The village of Ribchester, which lies on the banks of the River Ribble, 6 miles north northwest of Blackburn and 12 miles north east of Preston, has a long history dating from the Bronze Age. It was the location of a Roman cavalry fort called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, built in the 1st century A.D. whose granaries and bath house have been exposed by excavation.
The Museum at Ribchester contains many unusual Roman artefacts such as leather panels from a legionnaire’s tent and a lead sheet with a curse written by a Roman hoping that his oppressor would be stuck by a thunderbolt, as well as a Bronze age sword and Iron age brooches and carvings.
In the middle of the 7th Century the great Saxon churchman, Saint Wilfrid, Bishop of Ripon and Archbishop of York, began a programme of church building that extended across the North of England. The church in Ribchester is dedicated to St Wifrid and the current stone church originates from that time.
Agriculture was the principal industry until the 17th Century when, in common with many towns and villages in Lancashire, it became dominated by cotton weaving; firstly in the form of hand loom weaving and later in two mills. Neither mill still operates today.
Close by is the hamlet of Stydd where the tiny church of St Saviour has stood since the 12th Century, it was bought by the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in approximately 1265. The unpaved Stydd Lane is also the site of the Roman Catholic Church of St Peter & St Paul and the Ribchester Almshouses.
John Shireburne of Stoneyhurst left a will that contained instructions that he wished to found and build "a good almshouse on his estate at Stydd for 5 poor persons to live seperately therein". This unusual looking building was built in 1728 and remains virtually unchanged to this day.
For further information on the history of Ribchester visit the Ribchester History group Web page