Whalley Abbey

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Whalley Abbey
    The following article by Christine Rutter concerning the hauntings around Whalley Abbey appeared in The Bolton News (27 October 1998).‘THE ashen-faced man’s terror was not diminished by the radiant beauty of the apparition before him.

    Dressed in medieval clothes, the maiden stood in the doorway of his bedroom for a full 30 seconds.

    She visited him three times in 10 months at his home, a stone’s throw from Whalley Abbey.

    Rumours of the beautiful spook abound in the village of Whalley and many believe the manifestation to be the ghost of a nun who worked in the Abbey before it was closed in 1536.

    "Not all the monks in the Abbey were gentlemen. She was believed to have been abused and kept there against her will.

    "Legend has it that she was murdered trying to escape. The monks were afraid she would tell her Mother Superior how she was treated. The body was believed to have been buried in the grounds of the abbey," said Simon Entwistle, who descended on Whalley on a one-man mission to expose its spooky goings-on as material for his spine-chilling ghost walks.

    The pretty poltergeist is just one of a host of active phantoms haunting the quaint, bustling village, according to Simon.

    A monk playing with beer pumps; a supervisor, who shouts in German to his workers on the viaduct; two men dragging flour sacks along the floor at the site of an old mill — these are just some of the disembodied spirits who have arrived from the past to make Whalley their home.

    And when the spectres are slumbering, human sound machine Simon takes over and uses his talents as a sound mimic for television and radio to recreate things that go bump in the night.
    Suddenly the sound of a man on horseback galloping through the west gate of Whalley Abbey was heard.

    Of course, it was Simon, using his vocal dexterity to startle the crowds, before he launched into the story of a highwayman called Old Ned Shuttleworth, who regularly held up unsuspecting entourages travelling to and from Whalley.

    "He was the Ribble Valley’s answer to Dick Turpin and used to wait at Mitton crossroads," said Simon. Old Ned was in cahoots with the landlord of the then Bluebell Inn, who would tip him off when coaches were leaving Whalley for Blackburn and Preston.

    Firemen told Simon about the ghost of a man riding a horse which they saw en route to a barn fire in Whalley in 1976.

    "Fire crews were rushing through Whalley and a chap on a horse galloped in front of them. The driver braked but the fire engine went right through the horse.

    "The fire crew, who all saw the sight, got out of vehicle but found no-one. This was probably Old Ned. Residents hear him galloping through the gate late at night," said Simon.

    The highwayman was eventually captured by the Redcoats after the Bluebell Inn landlord revealed his identity under torture. He was hanged from an oak tree outside the Punch Bowl at Hurst Green.

    "He obviously died a horrible death and has returned to wreak revenge on the people of Whalley," said Simon.

    He extended his ghost walks from Clitheroe to Whalley because of the number of phantom stories in the village.

    "Whalley is the oldest village and the most fascinating aspect is the church, which is the oldest in East Lancashire and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

    "It has a lot of history and it has always been notorious for ghost stories."

    Simon spent four months researching the ghostly happenings in Whalley and the result is a disturbing historical feast cooked up for hungry amateur ghostbusters. Simon’s tales cover hundreds of years and have been gleaned from interviews with villagers and the book The Window on Whalley, written by the late Jimmy Fell.

    Simon, who lives in Clitheroe and works for Ribble Valley parks department by day, believes in ghosts but even the spookiest of yarns fails to frighten him. However, it was during filming at Whalley Abbey that he claims to have seen and felt the presence of a white lady which made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

    Both Simon and the camera crew felt an eerie presence in the grounds while filming and saw something strange at one of the windows of the mansion.

    He said: "We all felt we were being watched, then there was a white flash at the window. The staff said the room was empty at the time."

    The white lady is believed to be the wife of Ralph Ashton, who bought the mansion from the Crown for £2,000.

    "It is the only place that I find a bit spooky," said Simon. It has such an atmosphere. I always feel a bit uneasy. It is as if something has walked through you."

    The white lady is usually seen in the winter months and tends to stand near the fireplace in the main hall, blocking out the flames.

    "People tell me that Mrs Ashton loved the mansion so much that she couldn’t bear to leave it."

  2. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Whalley Abbey
    A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 2 (1908)

    The abbey of Stanlaw, after wards of Whalley, was founded by John, constable of Chester (died 1190) on a site of more than Cistercian austerity in the mud-flats, at the confluence of the Gowy with the Mersey, a spot until then in the parish of Eastham. The founder’s charter, in which he expresses a wish that the place should be re-named ‘Benedictus Locus,’ is dated 1178. Several chronicles, however, ascribe the foundation to 1172, which may be the date when the first steps towards the creation of the new monastery were taken. The monks were doubtless drawn from Combermere Abbey, of which Whalley was afterwards considered a filiation.

    Besides the two vills of Great Stanney and Meurik Aston, and a house in Chester, the founder gave them exemption from multure in his mills and from toll throughout his fief. Hugh, earl of Chester, confirmed his gifts, and added freedom from toll on goods purchased in Chester for their own use.

    Earl Ranulf de Blundeville ratified his father’s grants, freed the monks from all toll, even that on salt, throughout his lands, and disafforested the site of the abbey and its grange of Stanney. Cheshire tenants of the constable and earl added further endowments, including the whole vills of Acton (Acton Grange) and Wellington.

    But the rising fortunes of its patrons were already transferring the centre of the abbey’s interests to Lancashire. The constables of Chester had long held a fief in the south-west of that county, and Roger, the founder’s son, in or before 1205, gave Stanlaw the vill of Little Woolton in his Widnes fee. The abbey’s rights were, however, contested, and ultimately with success, by the knights of St. John. Roger’s inherit ance of the great honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe, on the death in 1193 of his kinsman, Robert de Lacy, whose surname he assumed, opened a new epoch in the history of Stanlaw. From Roger himself, who died in 1211, the house received a grant of the valuable rectory of Rochdale and lands in that parish. The appropriation of the church was confirmed, subject to the rights of the existing incumbent, by Pope Honorius III in 1218, and by Bishop Cornhill of Lichfield, who in 1222 ordained a vicarage of 5 marks with 4 oxgangs of land and a house. A few years later Bishop Stavenby instituted the first vicar, and the abbey entered into full possession of the rectorial tithes.

    Roger’s son John de Lacy, who became earl of Lincoln in 1232 and died in 1240, was an even greater benefactor of the house. In or before 1228 he gave the advowson of one of the two medieties of the rectory of Blackburn, which Bishop Stavenby appropriated to the uses of the abbey, and some years later he conferred the second mediety upon the monks, to whom it was appropriated by Bishop Roger Longespée in 1259, subject to the ordination of a vicarage of 20 marks.

    John de Lacy was also the donor of the advowson of the church of Eccles. A licence for its appropriation to the abbey was obtained from Bishop Stavenby in 1234.

    These gifts led to grants of land by various persons in the three parishes. Another instance of John de Lacy’s generosity, the gift of the vill of Staining (with Hardhorn and Newton) in Amounderness, involved the abbey in frequent litigation over the tithes with Lancaster Priory, the appropriates of Poulton, in which parish it lay. In 1234 Stanlaw undertook to pay 5 marks a year for them. As the area of cultivation extended the question was re-opened and the commutation was gradually raised to 18 marks (1298). Edmund de Lacy gave the whole township of Cronton near Widnes.

    The preponderance of the Lancashire property of the house among its possessions increased the growing discontent of the monks with the desolate and sea-beaten site of their monastery. A more than usually destructive inundation in 1279 perhaps brought matters to a head, and four years later Henry de Lacy, third earl of Lincoln, consented to the removal of the abbey. On the plea that none of their existing lands afforded a suitable site, they persuaded him to grant them the advowson of Whalley with a view to the appropriation to their use of the whole of the tithes of this extensive parish (of which they already held a fourth part as parcel of their rectory of Blackburn) and to the reconstruction of the monastery on its glebe, which comprised the whole township of Whalley.

    A licence in mortmain was obtained from the king on 24 December, 1283, and on the first day of the new year Lacy formally bestowed the advowson and authorized the translation on condition that the ashes of his ancestors and others buried at Stanlaw should be removed to the new abbey and that it should be called Locus Benedictus de Whalley. The bishop of Lichfield’s consent to the transference was not granted until two years afterwards; the papal approval was still longer delayed. A draft petition to the pope recites that the land on which the house stood was being worn away by every tide and must in a few years become totally uninhabitable and that each year at spring tides the church and monastery buildings were flooded to a depth of three to five feet. This assertion contained obvious exaggeration, the rock on which the principal buildings stood being 12 ft. above the level of ordinary tides, and it was afterwards softened into a statement that the offices, which lay below the rock, were inundated to a depth of 3 ft. Other considerations laid before the pope were that the greater part of their possessions were situated near Whalley, that the new site, lying in the midst of a barren and poverty-stricken country, would afford great scope for hospitality and almsgiving, and that it was proposed to increase the number of monks by twenty, whose duties would include prayers for his soul. Three or four monks were to be kept at Stanlaw so long as it remained habitable.

    On this understanding Nicholas IV granted a licence on 23 July, 1289, for the translation of the abbey and the appropriation of Whalley church on the death or resignation of its aged rector, Peter of Chester, who had held the benefice for 54 years. A vicarage, however, was to be endowed out of its revenues.

    The rector could not apparently be induced to resign and did not die until 20 January 1294-5. Even then fourteen months elapsed before the monks were transferred to Whalley. Certain formalities must be gone through and preliminary arrangements made; some difficulties were raised.

    Between February and August the Earl of Lincoln, the bishop of Lichfield, and the king confirmed the appropriation and translation. But the bishop, the archdeacon of Chester, and the chapters of Coventry and Lichfield had to be compensated for the loss entailed by the disappearance of secular rectors. The patron exacted from the monks a renunciation of the rights of hunting in his forests hitherto enjoyed by the parsons of Whalley and of all claims upon the castle chapel at Clitheroe, and his officers took possession of some lands which belonged to the benefice. As early as March William, lord of Altham, entered a claim to the advowson of its church, which Stanlaw held to be one of the chapels of Whalley, and obtained a writ for an assize of darrein presentment. Meanwhile the bishop and archdeacon sequestered its tithes and offerings and excommunicated the monks when-they tried to take possession. The abbot appealed to the archbishop, whose official ordered the ecclesiastical authorities in question to suspend their action and appear before his court in October.

    Some even questioned the validity of the appropriation of Whalley itself. The claims of Pontefract Priory could not, however, be regarded very seriously, and on the monks of Stanlaw presenting John of Whalley for institution as vicar, Bishop Roger on 6 December ordered an inquiry into the value of the benefice with a view to fixing the vicar’s portion; but Roger’s death ten days later caused further delay. The inquiry was begun on 20 April, 1296, by the instructions of Archbishop Winchelsey. By that time the monks, no doubt anxious to secure the advantage of actual possession, had removed from Stanlaw to their new home. On 4 April, St. Ambrose Day, they made their entrance into Whalley. The foundation stone of the new monastery was laid by their patron the earl on 12 June.

    The monks who entered into residence in the parsonage and temporary buildings under the rule of their abbot, Gregory of Norbury, numbered twenty. Robert Haworth, who had recently resigned the abbacy after holding it for twenty-four years, remained with five other monks at Stanlaw, which continued to be a cell of Whalley down to the Dissolution. One monk lived at the grange of Stanney, two each at those of Staining and Marland, and another was a student at Oxford.

    The delays which the monks experienced might have been prolonged had news reached England earlier of a step taken by Pope Boniface VIII, who was elected a month before the death of Peter of Chester. One of his earliest acts was to quash all provisions and reservations to take effect on a future vacancy which Nicholas IV had granted. Nicholas’s bull appropriating Whalley church to Stanlaw on the death or demission of the rector could therefore be held to be annulled. As soon as this new difficulty was grasped the good offices of the king and the Earl of Lincoln were secured, Richard of Rudyard, one of the monks, was sent to Rome, and after some negotiation and considerable disbursements obtained a renewal of the grant from Boniface on 20 June, 1297. Meanwhile the king’s court had upheld their contention that Altham was a chapel of Whalley, not a parish church. This involved further expense; altogether the abbey spent £300 in England and at Rome in making its title to Whalley and Altham secure. Even now they were not at the end of their troubles. The older Cistercian abbey at Sawley, six miles to the north-east, complained to the general chapter of the order that the new house was nearer to their own than their rules permitted, that its monks consumed the tithe corn of Whalley parish which the late rector used to sell to Sawley, and that the increased demand for corn and other commodities had so raised prices that their monastery was permanently poorer to the extent of nearly £30 a year. Arbitrators appointed by the chapter arranged a compromise in 1305; each house agreed to promote the other’s interests as if they were its own; monks or conversi of either doing injury to the other were to be sent there for punishment; Whalley was to give the monks of Sawley the preference in the purchase of their corn provided they were willing to pay the market price.

    Some years before this settlement the abbey entered on a long dispute, or series of disputes, with Roger Longespée’s successor as bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, Edward I’s well-known minister Walter de Langton. The details of the quarrel are obscure, but it perhaps originated in an attempt of the monks to recoup themselves for the heavy expenses which their acquisition of Whalley had entailed. From May, 1301, to June, 1303, Bishop Langton was suspended from his office by Pope Boniface, pending the hearing of serious charges against his character. About this time the vicarage of Whalley fell vacant, and the monks, seizing their opportunity, obtained the pope’s permission to appropriate the vicarage to their own uses. On 26 May 1302, the abbot of Rewley, in virtue of a papal commission, put them in possession, but the bishop or his representatives apparently appealed to the Court of Arches, which launched sentences of excommunication, suspension, and interdict against the intruders. Early in December the abbot of Rewley instructed the abbots of Furness and Vale Royal to pronounce these sentences null and void. The order was carried out, but Langton’s reinstatement and the death of Boniface proved fatal to the abbey’s ambition. Not only did it lose the appropriation, but Langton obtained judgement against the abbot and convent for 1,000 marks, which seems to have included the estimated value of the revenue of the vicarage, which ought to have gone to the bishop during the vacancy, and the bishop’s costs. A letter of Abbot Gregory is preserved in which he complains bitterly that though they have paid 100 marks on account their goods are to be sold to meet the rest of the debt. In the absence abroad of their patron he writes to his son-in-law Earl Thomas of Lancaster that, owing to the bishop’s long illwill they are unable to carry out the provisions of their founders and benefactors, and begs him to use his influence with the king to secure them a grant of some ‘convenable cure.’ Langton was imprisoned by Edward II from 1307 to 1312, but it was not until Abbot Gregory had been dead nearly three months that he at last consented (11 April, 1310) to withdraw his claims against the abbey.

    At one moment in the course of this quarrel the abbot and convent had seriously contemplated leaving Whalley, but Pope Clement V ordered them (January, 1306) to remain, or the church would revert to the presentation of the Earl of Lincoln. They were still dissatisfied, however, with their new home, and ten years later made another attempt to remove elsewhere. Thomas of Lancaster, in consideration of the lack of timber at Whalley to rebuild their monastery and of fuel for their use, together with the difficulties of transporting corn and other necessaries in that neighbourhood, gave them (25 July, 1316) Toxteth and Smithdown, near Liverpool, part of his forest, with licence to translate their house thither. The king confirmed the grant, but, perhaps owing to episcopal or papal opposition, no action was taken upon it.

    In 1330 the abbey induced Bishop Northburgh to cut down the vicar of Whalley’s portion, as fixed in 1298, on the ground that it was excessive. Northburgh also allowed them to present three of their own monks in succession to the vicarage. A general licence for this practice was obtained from Pope Innocent VI in 1358 on the plea that the residence of secular clerks within the monastic in closure led to disturbances. The vicars continued to be taken from the monastic body down to the Dissolution.

    The troubles in which the abbey became involved by its acquisition of Whalley were not even yet exhausted. Among the direct consequences of this aggrandizement were disputes with its mother house of Combermere and with its own lay patrons.

    With Combermere it came into conflict over its assessment to the Cistercian levy. In this order the filial tie was strong; not only had the mother house the right of visitation, but the contributions imposed by the general chapter at Citeaux were partitioned among the groups (generations), consisting of a mother house with its daughters, and re-partitioned by the abbot of the former. Abbot Norbury of Whalley complained that the abbot of Combermere had raised their share to a figure out of proportion to the increase in their income. The possession of Whalley was attended with so many expenses that it yielded little net profit. After appealing to the abbot of Savigny, the mother house of Combermere, and to the general chapter, Norbury secured an undertaking from the father abbot to consult the filial abbots before fixing their contributions. The matter was reopened in 1318, when the abbot of Combermere in apportioning a levy of £212 upon his ‘generation,’ called upon Whalley to pay as much as Combermere and its other filiations, Dieulacres and Hulton, put together. Whalley appealed, and in 1320 delegates appointed by the abbot of Savigny reduced its share to £80.

    The question at issue between the abbey and its patrons related to the status of the chapel of St. Michael in the Castle at Clitheroe. The Earl of Lincoln, having obtained a quitclaim of it from the monks before they settled at Whalley, treated it as a free chapel and not one of the chapels of Whalley church which he conveyed with that church to Stanlaw. On the next vacancy of the chaplaincy he gave it to his clerk William de Nuny, ‘not without grave peril to his soul,’ in the opinion of the monks. There is nothing to show, however, that they ventured to put forward their own claim in Lacy’s lifetime or that of his son-in-law Thomas of Lancaster. After the attainder of the latter and the forfeiture of his estates, Edward II appointed two chaplains in succession, and when Edward III conferred the honour of Clitheroe on his mother Queen Isabella she filled up several vacancies. But in a petition to the king in 1331 Abbot Topcliffe claimed that St. Michael’s had always been a chapel dependent upon Whalley until the earl of Lincoln wrongfully abstracted it, and that possessing no rights of baptism or burial it could not be a free chapel. An inquiry was held, and on 18 March 1334, the king conceded the superior right of the abbey, which nevertheless had to pay 300 marks for the recognition.

    In addition to this Richard de Moseley, to whom Queen Isabella had given the chaplaincy a fortnight before Edward’s letters patent, had to be bought out by a pension of £40 a year for life.

    The abbey’s title was afterwards several times attacked and the convent put to much trouble and expense. In 1344 an inquiry was ordered into allegations that Peter of Chester had held the chapel in gross, not as a dependency of Whalley, and that the abbey had quitclaimed its pretensions to the Earl of Lincoln. It was not until May, 1346, that Abbot Lindley induced the king to confirm his recognition of its rights. The question was reopened when Queen Isabella’s tenure of Clitheroe determined and it reverted to Henry, earl and afterwards duke of Lancaster, nephew of Earl Thomas. Henry did indeed resign his claims on the advowson in 1349, and collated at least one chaplain. Several clerks also had obtained papal provisions of the chaplaincy, and after the death of Duke Henry Edward III put in John Stafford on the plea that the duke had alienated the advowson to the abbey without his licence. On 12 December, 1363, he restored the advowson to Duke John and his wife. In 1365 Abbot Lindley was proceeding in the Court of Arches against Stafford, and three years later Urban V ordered an investigation of the claim of John de Parre, who had a papal provision. The rights of Whalley seem to have been upheld. In 1380 they were once more, and as far as we know for the last time, called in question. The officers, of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, alleged the existence of an endowed chantry in the chapel which Queen Isabella, they said, gave to Whalley on condition of its maintaining daily service therein. As service was only held three times a week and the chapel had become ruinous the abbey, it was urged," had forfeited its rights. A local jury, however, decided in its favour.

    The heavy expense to which the convent was put in defence of its claims may perhaps help to explain the slow progress of the new monastery buildings. In 1362 the monks were excused their contribution to the Cistercian levy until their church should be finished and the dormitory and refectory built. But despite this and some valuable gifts of land the financial position of the house continued to be precarious. In 1366 its expenditure exceeded, its receipts by £150 and its debt amounted to over £700. Much of this was incurred in consequence of the unsuccessful attempt made in October, 1365, by Richard de Chester, abbot of Combermere, supported by a party among the monks and ‘other malefactors’ to get rid of Abbot Lindley and replace him by William Banaster. Lindley called in the civil authorities against his opponents, who for a moment held the monastery against the sheriff and ‘posse comitatus’ with ‘ watch and ward.’ There were only twenty-nine monks instead of the sixty contemplated on the removal to Whalley. An attempt to secure the appropriation of another valuable benefice had not been successful. Henry, earl of Lancaster, who died in 1345, or his son and namesake before he was raised to the ducal dignity, bestowed upon them the advowson of the rectory of Preston in Amounderness, and the archbishop of York was petitioned to allow its appropriation, reserving a vicarage or £20 a year. But he did not give this permission and even the advowson was not retained.

    A hermitage for female recluses in the parish churchyard founded and endowed by Henry, duke of Lancaster, and supplied with provisions from the abbey kitchen led to some disorders. In 1437 Henry VI dissolved the hermitage oh representations from the convent that several of the anchoresses had returned to the world and that their maid-servants were often ‘misgoverned.’ The endowment was applied to the support of two chaplains to say mass daily for the souls of Duke Henry and the king and for the celebration of their obits by thirty chaplains.

    In the last quarter of the fifteenth century a fierce quarrel raged between the abbey and Christopher Parsons, rector of Slaidburn, who disputed its right to the tithes of the forest of Bowland and of certain lands in Slaidburn. Though in the county and diocese of York and completely isolated from the parish of Whalley these districts formed part of the ancient demesne of Clitheroe and their tithes were included in the endowment of the Castle chapel of St. Michael. The two parties soon came to blows. On 22 November, 1480, while engaged in driving away tithe calves from the disputed lands Christopher Thornbergh, the bursar of the abbey, was set upon by a mob instigated by the rector with cries of ‘Kill the monk, slay the monk,’ and severely beaten. Parsons made the forest tenants swear on the cross of a groat to pay no tithes except to him.

    As each party appealed to his own diocesan the dispute was ultimately referred to Edward IV, who in May, 1482, decided in favour of the abbey. The rector was ordered to pay all arrears and £200 towards the expenses incurred by the convent. Richard III in 1484, and Henry VII in 1492, confirmed the finding, but Parsons was still giving trouble in 1494, and nine years later a royal order commanded the men of the forests to pay their tithes to Whalley.

    Little is known of the state of the abbey on the eve of the Dissolution. John Paslew, the last abbot, was afterwards accused of having sold much- of the plate of the house to defray the cost of his assumption of the position of a mitred abbot and of a suit for licence to give ‘bennet and collet’ in the abbey. A comparison of its accounts for the years 1478 and 1521 shows a large increase of expenditure in the latter year, especially in the items of meat and drink, though this may possibly have been due, in part at least, to an increase in the number of monks or to some exceptional hospitality. It is noteworthy that the income derived from the appropriated rectories in 1521 exhibits a more than proportionate augmentation.

    Only one of the monks was singled out for immorality by the visitors of 1535. Cromwell subsequently relaxed in their favour the injunctions laid upon them by the visitors. Some restrictions on their movements were removed and only three divinity lectures a week were insisted on.

    In the autumn of the next year Abbot Paslew became implicated in the Pilgrimage of Grace. The abbey of Sawley, close by, was the centre of the movement in Craven and the adjoining parts of Lancashire. At the end of Pctober, 1536, Nicholas Tempest, one of the Yorkshire leaders of the rising, came to Whalley with 400 men and swore the abbot and his brethren to the cause of the commons. Paslew is alleged to have lent Tempest a horse and some plate; Aske, however, said he had no money from the abbot as he had from other abbots and priors, but intended to have. It may be that Paslew yielded reluctantly to the disaffection by which he was surrounded. A grant by the convent of a rent of £6 13s. 4d. to Cromwell on 1 January, 1537, perhaps marks an attempt to make their peace with the government. But such offences as theirs were not overlooked. Yet as they were covered by the pardon granted in October there must have been subsequent offences. Shortly after Paslew sent a message to the abbot of Hailes that he was ‘sore stopped and acrased.’ His letter was intercepted and may have contained something incriminatory. Doubtless he involved himself in the last phase of the ‘Pilgrimage.’ He was tried at Lancaster and executed there on 10 March. His fellow monk William Haydock shared his fate, but was sent to Whalley for execution. The Earl of Sussex, royal commissioner with the Earl of Derby, wrote next day to Cromwell the accomplishment of the matter of Whalley was God’s ordinance; else seeing my lord of Derby is steward of the house and so many gentlemen the abbot’s fee’d men, it would have been hard to find anything against him in these parts. It will be a terror to corrupt minds hereafter.

    The possessions of the house were held to be forfeited by the abbot’s attainder, and the king gave orders that as it had been so infected with treason all the monks should be transferred to other monasteries or to secular capacities. He wrote vaguely of a new establishment of the abbey ‘as shalbe thought meet for the honour of God, our surety and the benefit of the county,’ but it remained in the hands of the crown until 6 June, 1553, when the site and the manor of Whalley were sold to John Braddyl (to whose custody they had been committed after the forfeiture and who had leased them since 12 April, 1543,) and Richard Assheton. A partition was at once arranged by which Braddyl took most of the land and Assheton the house.

    The abbey was dedicated to St. Mary. The most important of the new endowments bestowed upon the house in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries have already been noticed. Few additions were made after the acquisition of Whalley. Thomas of Lancaster gave half the adjoining township of Billington in 1318, and the other moiety was granted with the manor of Le Cho in 1332 by Geoffrey de Scrope. The gift of Toxteth by Earl Thomas seems to have been cancelled when the project of removing the abbey thither was abandoned. A third of the manor of Wiswell and a tenth of that of Read, both in the vicinity of the abbey, were acquired respectively in 1340 and 1342. Some smaller gifts of land were made to the abbey in the parish of Rochdale. Its temporalities before the removal to Whalley had been assessed in 1291 for the tenth at just over £75. In 1535 they were worth £279 a year, almost exactly the figure at which they had appeared in the ‘compotus’ of 1478.

    Its four appropriated churches, Eccles, Rochdale, Blackburn, and Whalley, were rated in the taxation of 1291 at something less than £150 a year, but their real value was greater. In the ‘compotus’ of 1478 the income derived from them is stated to be £356, which rises in 1521 to £592. In 1535 it was £272 7s. 8d. The gross income of the abbey’s temporalities and spiritualities in that year amounted therefore to £551 4s. 6d. After the deduction of certain fixed charges the abbey’s new assessment for the tenth was £321 9s. 1½d. The fixed charges included £43 10s. in pensions to the four vicars of its churches, a contribution of £2 3s. 4d. to the Cistercian College of St. Bernard at Oxford, over £46 in fees to stewards and other officers headed by the Earl of Derby, chief steward, with £5 6s. 8d. The abbey employed five receivers and eleven bailiffs. Over £116 was allowed for almsgiving and the support of the poor. By a provision of John de Lacy the house was bound to keep twenty-four poor and feeble folk. This cost nearly £49, the relief of casual poor coming to the monastery over £62, and the residue came under the head of alms on special occasions.

    The abbey produced no chronicle. The ‘Liber Loci Benedicti de Whalley,’ a miscellaneous register extending from 1296 to 1346, includes two political poems of the early years of Edward III. An account of the early history of Whalley church is well-known under the title of Status de Blagbornshire.

    Abbots of Stanlaw and Whalley
    Ralph, first abbot, died 24 Aug. 1209
    Charles, occurs 1226-44
    Simon, occurs Oct. 1259, died 7 Dec. 1268
    Richard of Thornton, died 7 Dec. 1269
    Richard Norbury (Northbury), died 1 Jan. 1272-3
    Robert Haworth, resigned before 8 June, 1292, died 22 April, 1304
    Gregory of Norbury (Northbury), occurs 1292, died 22 Jan. 1309-10
    Eliasof Worsley, S.T.P., resigned; died 1318
    John of Belfield, died 25 July 1323
    Robert of Topcliffe, resigned in or before 1342, died 20 Feb. 1350-1
    John Lindley, D.D., occurs 1342-77
    William Selby, occurs 19 March, 1379-80, and 25 April 1383 (?)
    Nicholas of York, occurs 1392, died 1417 or 1418
    William Whalley, occurs 7 April, 1418, and 5 Aug. 1426, died 1434
    John Eccles, died 1442 or 1443
    Nicholas Billington, occurs c. 1445 and Aug. 1447
    Robert Hamond
    William Billington
    Ralph Clitheroe (or Slater), occurs 1464-7
    Ralph Holden, elected 1472, died 1480 or 1481
    Christopher Thornbergh, elected 1481, died 1486 or 1487
    William Read, elected 1487; died 13 July, 1507
    John Paslew, elected 7 August, 1507; executed 10 March, 1537