The name Burnley is first mentioned in a charter of 1122, but it is likely that there had been a hamlet on the site for several hundred years before this. In the 12th century, the village had a few hundred inhabitants who farmed the town field and kept a few animals on the commons. It was administered from the Manor House at Ightenhill and was part f the Honor of Clitheroe.
The charter of Hugh de Laval of 1122 confirmed the gift to Pontefract Priory of the Church of Burnley. It is the earliest document mentioning Burnley and its church.
Nothing remains of the original medieval church building and we do not know what it looked like. The oldest part of the present church is the lower part of the tower, built in the 15th Century.
The Market Charter of 1294 granted to Henry de Lacy, Lord of the Honor of Clitheroe, and his heirs the right to … have a weekly market on Tuesday in their manor of Brumeley in the county of Lancaster and a fair every year lasting through three days that is on the eve the day and morrow of the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
The cross was erected a year later at a cost of 9s. 11d. At this time a few wooden houses clustered round the church and market place, protected by a loop of the River Brun. A corn mill had been built c.1290 and a fulling mill in 1296.r
This is believed to be the tombstone of Oliver de Stansfield, Constable of Pontefract Castle. He owned land at Heasandford and died in 1340. The stone can be seen in the Stansfield Chapel.
Carved Stone in the Tower
This depicts an animal and a shield, possibly the symbols of the Stansfield and Towneley Families. They had endowed chantry chapels in the church and may have paid for the rebuilding of the tower in the 15th Century.