The abbey was founded in 1178 by John fitz Richard as a daughter abbey of Combermere Abbey. Roger de Lacy, John de Lacy and Edmund de Lacy, respectively the 7th, 8th and 9th Barons of Halton, were buried at Stanlow. The abbey was in an exposed situation near the Mersey estuary and it suffered from a series of disasters. In 1279 it was flooded by water from the Mersey and in 1287 during a fierce storm, its tower collapsed and part of the abbey was destroyed by fire. The monks appealed to the pope for the monastery to be moved to a better site and, with the pope's consent and the agreement of Edward I and Henry de Lacy, the 10th Baron, they moved to Whalley Abbey near Clitheroe, Lancashire. This move took place in 1296. However a small cell of monks remained on the site until the Reformation, the site becoming a grange of Whalley Abbey. The remains of the abbey lie between the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. The standing remains include two sandstone walls and a re-used doorway, and the buried features include part of a drain leading to the River Gowy. These remains are recognised as a scheduled monument.
- Greene, J. Patrick (1989). Norton Priory: the archaeology of a medieval religious house. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-521-33054-1.
- Whimperley, Arthur (1986), The Barons of Halton, Widnes: MailBook Publishing, p. 11
- Starkey, H. F. (1990), Old Runcorn, Halton Borough Council, p. 31
- History of the Abbey - Whalley Abbey in the Ribble Valley, Whalley Abbey, retrieved 1 August 2007
- A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848, pp. 183–86, retrieved 1 August 2007
- Pastscape: Stanlow Abbey, English Heritage, retrieved 27 October 2008
- Historic England, "Stanlow Abbey Cistercian monastery and monastic grange (1011117)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 September 2012