Rossendale was given the designation of "forest" in medieval times denoting a hunting reserve. The Forest of Rossendale was home to all different kinds of wild animals, attested by names which exist to the present time:-
|Wild Boar||Boarsgreave, Hogshead, Sowclough and Swinshaw|
|Wolf||Wolfenden and Wolfstones|
|Deer||Deerplay, Staghills, Hart Hill, Buck Earth, Stacksteads [Stagsteads] and Cribden [Hill of Stags]|
In the 11th century after the Norman Conquest, Rossendale passed into the hands of Roger De Poictou, 1st Lord of the Honor of Clitheroe. It then transferred to the Lacy family, eventually passing to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose son became Henry IV. It was owned by the sovereign until Charles II, who on his restoration to the throne bestowed the Honor upon General Monk. In 1767, the estates passed to the Duke of Buccleugh who until recently possessed the freehold of the land.
Rossendale was then divided into Vaccaries or Booths. In the reign of Edward II there were 11, this was increased to 19 by Henry VII (1507).
|Constablelee||New Hall Heye||Hen Heads|
The larger settlements grew into market towns, typically through the late Middle Ages. Farming and a cottage woollen industry developed during the reign of Henry VIII, but Rossendale's population only really expanded during the period of the Industrial Revolution. Its wet and damp climate is ideally suited to the development of watermills, and later to the mechanisation of the wool and cotton spinning and weaving industries in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the middle of the 19th Century a felt industry developed, and from this the manufacturing of slippers so that footwear also became a major employer in the area.
The area is also notable for its quarrying, and Rossendale Flagstone was used widely throughout the country in the 19th century. The flagstones in Trafalgar Square in London were quarried in Rossendale. Upland farming is still carried out, largely of sheep but also of cattle.
Population of Rossendale
During the reign of Henry VII the population was about 20 who looked after the deer.
Between 1801 and 1861 the increase in population was 297%, whereas for England and Wales as a whole it was 225%.
Major Christian denominations in 1851:-
|C of E||12528|
With the steady decline of the cotton industry Rossendale suffered from serious economic decline which has only recently halted, and the area still has pockets of poverty. However, the opening of fast road connections with Manchester, allied to the attractiveness of the local countryside has meant that Rossendale has developed a sizeable commuter population.