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The Church of St Mary and All Saints, Whalley
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

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St Mary, Whalley

The parish church of Whalley, originally called the "White Church under the Legh," is of high antiquity, as appears from the "Status de Blagborneshire," and from the crosses in the churchyard, erected to commemorate the introduction of Christianity into that part of the country, and, as is commonly affirmed, though on doubtful authority, the preaching of Paulinus. The original edifice has totally disappeared. The tower of the present church was built about A.D. 1285, during the incumbency of Peter de Cestria, the first and only rector, a man of great ecclesiastical and political influence, who had in that year a grant of free warren in Whalley conferred upon him. He was probably a natural son of John Fitz-Richard de Lacy was provost of Beverley and rector of Slaidburn, and held the living of Whalley from 1235 to 1294. The church dedicated to St. Wilfrid (or to All Saints, according to Ecton and the Status de Blagborneshire), is in the rural deanery of Whalley, and in the archdeanery of Blackburn. From the Stutus de Blagborneshire, it appears that the patronage was originally in the lords of the soil, who appointed pastors to the cure after receiving instructions from the Bishop of Richfield. Its earlier priests were styled deans, not vicars, and the succession was hereditary. When the lordship of Clitheroe fell into the hands of the Lacies, soon after the Conquest, letters commendatory were given by that family upon every vacancy. With this changed constitution the deanery of Whalley subsisted down to the Lateran Council in 1215, when the marriage of ecclesiastics was finally prohibited. Whalley then became a rectory, in the presentation of John, constable of Chester, and it was found, by Inquisition in 1296, that eight parts of the mother church of Whalley, the chapel of the town of Cliderhow, and the chapel of Dounom (Downham), belonged according to law and custom to the church of Blackburn. After two successive appropriations it was degraded into a vicarage, and at the end of two centuries and a half, when the average price of wheat was 2s. per quarter, the living was valued at only 6 pounds, 3s. 9d.

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