Bolton-by-Bowland is perhaps one of the most attractive villages in the Ribble Valley and is a destination for tourists and local residents alike, both for walking and enjoyment of this beautiful area in the Forest of Bowland. The village was first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1087 when it was known as Bodeton which is a derivative of bothi-tun and means there is an enclosure with dwellings – a hamlet. In medieval times the village was called Bolton-in-Bowland, which reflected the shifting boundaries of the Forest of Bowland.
There is recorded evidence of Bolton-by-Bowland’s church dating back to 1190. Whilst the present church owes much of its existence to local landowners and residents, who from the 13th century over a period of four hundred years, continued to pay for improvements and extensions to the building. One such resident was Ralph Pudsey, who in 1464 along with King Henry V1 sought shelter at nearby Bolton Hall, following his defeat at the battle of Hexham during the War of the Roses. This was deemed a very unusual place for the King to seek sanctuary as he was a Lancastrian and Bolton was then in Yorkshire!
Within a short walking distance of Bolton-by-Bowland is Rainsber Scar which is known locally as Pudsay’s Leap. Legend has it that William Pudsay was being chased by soldiers for illegally minting his own coins and Rainsber Scar is said to be where Pudsay leapt on horseback trying to escape during the chase. Having survived the chase, legend also has it that he was later pardoned by his godmother, Queen Elizabeth 1. The Pudsay name has been linked to the village since 1312, until the death of the last Pudsay in 1770 at Bolton Hall, although the Pudsay name still lives on.
With numerous walks in and around this beautiful village, the tourist information centre is often the starting point for many walkers and visitors. There is a Grade 11listed pub the Coach and Horses in the village centre, also offering accommodation and there are Tea Rooms a short distance away. Along with a car park for visitors and locals, Bolton-by-Bowland has two village greens where you can see the remains of the 13th century market cross and stocks next to the memorial garden. There is an old Court House where, in days gone by, the court decided on the rights of dwelling in the Forest of Bowland. A stone’s throw from the village and just two miles downstream, stands the ruins of Sawley Abbey.