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The A59 through Gisburn - - 1377713.jpg
Main Street, showing the former Ribblesdale Arms public house, built 1635
Gisburn is located in Lancashire
 Gisburn shown within Lancashire
Population 521  (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SD825485
   – London  190 miles (306 km) SSE 
Civil parish Gisburn
District Ribble Valley
Shire county Lancashire
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BB7
Dialling code 01200
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Ribble Valley
List of places

Coordinates: 53°55′55″N 2°15′54″W / 53.932°N 2.265°W / 53.932; -2.265

Gisburn (formerly Gisburne) is a village, civil parish and ward within the Ribble Valley borough of Lancashire, England. It lies 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Clitheroe and 11 miles (18 km) west of Skipton. The parish of Gisburn had a population of 506, and the ward had 1287, recorded in the 2001 census.[1] increasing (the civil parish) to 523 at the 2011 Census.[2] The separate civil parish of Gisburn Forest had a population of 151 at the 2011 Census.[3]

The former spelling of Gisburne was phased out after the introduction of railways in the parish. Gisburn railway station was closed under the Beeching Axe in 1962. Before standardized spelling, Gisburne and similar spellings were also sometimes used for Guisborough in North Yorkshire, leading to Gisburn often being referred to as "Gisburn in Craven".


Historically Gisburn was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, within the Deanery of Craven, and Wapentake of Staincliffe. It touched the historic county of Lancashire on the south. Today it is in Lancashire, and touches North Yorkshire on the north.

Geographically, Gisburn is a rural area, surrounded by hilly and relatively unpopulated areas, with Bowland Forest to the west, Pendle Hill to the south, and the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines not far to the north and east. The relatively flat Ribble valley runs through the parish with the A59 running parallel. The Roman road from Ribchester to Ilkley once passed through the area also.

Gisburn's old parish, broken into its modern civil parishes, is shown here with purple boundaries, with modern Gisburn civil parish itself shaded blue. This map shows how Gisburn forms part of the territory which has been transferred from Yorkshire to Lancashire in modern times. Lancashire's old boundaries are in red, and new boundaries are in green.

Gisburn is home to an auction mart, the medieval St Mary the Virgin Church and the private hospital, BMI Gisburne Park, set in the former home of the Lister family, the Barons Ribblesdale. This church was responsible for the older and larger ecclesiastical parish of Gisburn, which approximated the modern ward of Gisburn, and also included the modern civil parishes of Gisburn Forest (now united in a council with neighbouring Bolton by Bowland and Sawley), Paythorne, Newsholme, Horton, Rimington and Middop (the last two forming one council area). Nappa and Swinden were also part of the old parish but are now in North Yorkshire and no longer attached to Gisburn ward.

In summer 2010, the village controversially featured in a television advertisement for the Renault Mégane[4]

The Church of St Mary the Virgin[edit]

Church of St Mary the Virgin

The ancient church at the centre of the village is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. It is thought, however, that at one time it also had a dedication to St Andrew, possibly as a deliberate means of avoiding the displeasure of invading Scots. A more likely explanation lies with the one time patrons of the living, the prioress and nuns from Stainfield Nunnery[5] in Lincolnshire, which was itself dedicated to St Mary the Virgin and St Andrew. Indeed, the prioress had a manor house at Rayhead in Gisburn Forest, and the Percy family, who founded the nunnery, were very generous to Gisburn Church. The connection with Stainfield, however, was the source of a bitter dispute between the nunnery and the nearby Sawley Abbey.[6]


Early charters give the priest of Gisburn, between 1140 and 1146, as one Renulf, and it has been suggested that the foundations of the church date from 1135. The large cylindrical pillars at the front of the church are of 12th-century origin. The date of the other pillars is later, perhaps as late as the 16th century, when it is thought that the church was restored. Part of the archway originated from Sawley Abbey following its destruction at the Dissolution.

A further restoration in 1872 involved re-roofing the church, new pews and a new pulpit. Other modifications were also carried out and the work was paid for by a grant from Queen Anne's Bounty, the repayment of which took until 1925.

In 1612 a village resident, Jennet Preston, was tried at the Lancashire witch trials, accused of causing the death of Thomas Lister by witchcraft. Her trial took place in York as the village then lay within Yorkshire. Preston was found guilty and was hanged at York Knavesmire.

In the graveyard lies buried one of England's greatest writers of hymn tunes, Francis Duckworth (1862–1941). His most famous tune is "Rimington", to which several hymns including Jesu Shall Reign Where’er the Sun may be sung. The opening lines of the tune are inscribed on his gravestone.[7]

In May 2015 it was announced that a rare King James Version of the Bible, printed in 1611, had been found at the church.[8]

Non-conformism in Gisburn[edit]

In 1759 Gisburn established the first place of Methodist worship in the district. On 18 April 1784 John Wesley, then aged 81, preached to a large congregation. The original Methodist chapel on Mill Lane later became part of the village smithy. A new chapel was built in 1871 but closed in 1948 due to falling attendance. The building was then used as a garage and is now the site of three houses known as "The Old Chapel".[6]

In nearby Horton-in-Craven a Congregational chapel was founded in 1670. At Paythorne there is a Wesleyan chapel built in 1830 and in Rimington there is a Congregational chapel dated 1817.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Parish headcount" (PDF). Lancashire County Council. Retrieved 2009-01-10.  and "Ward populations". Ribble Valley Borough Council. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  2. ^ "Civil parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Gisburn Forest civil parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Anger as Renault TV advert pokes fun at Gisburn at
  5. ^ Historic England. "Stainfiled Priory (351572)". PastScape. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  6. ^ a b c "St Mary the Virgin Gisburn History". The Gisburn Village Website. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  7. ^ "The Life of Francis Duckworth (1862-1941)" at
  8. ^ [1]

External links[edit]