District: Ribble Valley
Name: Whalley Abbey.
Description : Substantial remains of a Cistercian Abbey founded 1296 and dissolved in 1537. The adjacent parish church has further remains including three Pre-Conquest cross shafts.
The Abbey of St Mary the Virgin, also known as Locus Benedictus de Whalley. was founded by Henry de Lacy, third Earl of Lincoln on the 4th April 1296. The Abbey had moved from the unfavourable site of Stanlaw into the Parsonage and other temporary buildings at Whalley in 1283, when there were 20 monks. By 1296 the Abbey had reached the maximum permitted number of 60 monks. Work on the building of the Abbey was begun in 1295 but the church itself was not completed until 1388. The lack of timber for building was a problem which caused dispute with the monks of Sawley and a move to Toxteth was projected in 1316 but not carried through.
The Abbey demesne was very large, extending to 3 miles south of Manchester. By 1366 there were 26 monks and one lay brother, in 1381, 24 monks and in 1534, 21 monks. The last Abbot, John Paslew was involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was tried at Lancaster and executed in Whalley on the 10th March 1537. The Abbey was then suppressed and the monks turned out.
Excavation has uncovered the outlines of the church, surviving as foundations, as does the eastern claustral range and the polygonal Chapter House. The western range is complete and occupied, the Abbots lodging and the infirmary hall still survive as do two gatehouses. That to the north west was erected about the year 1350, and Whalley Grammar School, when first founded, occupied its upper room. The north eastern gateway was built in 1486.