Ribchester lies on the River Ribble, beautifully placed about mid way between Preston and Clitheroe. It is the only village which lies actually on the banks of the river, a fact that has always caused serious problems of flooding and erosion.
The village takes its name from the River Ribble and the fort of Bremetennacum (the walled town by the river). At first sight, it appears that the site of the fort was chosen by the Romans because it was a major crossroads and river crossing. But, there have been several interesting Bronze Age finds around Ribchester, including the discovery in 1977 of several cremation burials in urns near the main car park in the village.
Relatively little is known of the history of Ribchester during the seven hundred years after the departure of the Romans in the early 5th century. While it is likely that the fort itself fell into disrepair quite rapidly it may have been used for defence by the civilian population. The later building of the church of St Wilfrid close by the site of the former headquarters of the Roman camp indicates that the fort remained a focus of the village.
In common with many areas of East Lancashire the later history of the village is dominated by cotton weaving; firstly in the form of hand loom weaving and later in two mills, neither of which still operate. Latterly the village became primarily a dormitory village for commuters to the town of Blackburn and the cities of Preston and Manchester.
At the 2001 census the population of Ribchester was approximately 1535 living in some 645 properties.
Buildings of Historical Significance within the Village
St Wilfrid’s Church
St Saviour, Stydd
St Peter & Paul’s Roman Catholic Church
In his will of 1726, John Sherborne of Bailey left instructions to found ‘good almshouses on his estate at Stydd for five poor persons to live separately therein’. The building’s most unusual staircase and first floor arcade have featured in many postcard views. Careful repairs over the years have ensured that the houses continue to be useful as well as attractive.
The White Bull
The inn, which dates back to 1707, is a Grade II listed building. It stands on Church Street at the Y junction where the Roman branch road heads off up Water Street and Stoneygate Lane to join the main route from Chester to Hadrian’s wall. Once used as a court house it has a number of unique exterior features, including a portico supported by two pillars of Roman origin and a rustic wooden representation of a white bull. Over the years a number of alterations have been carried out, including the opening up of a refreshment room to cater for the large number of visitors. By the middle of the 1940’s the doorway to the right of the main entrance had been blocked up to be replaced by a central doorway to the refreshment rooms which remains to this day.
The principal sources of this summary are:
Masthead photograph: Pendle forms the backdrop of this view from Ribchester's Riverside ©Copyright John Darch and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.