Ribchester is a pretty village situated beside the River Ribble in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley and it is also an area of great historical importance.  The village is situated at the foot of Longridge Fell in the beautiful area of the Forest of Bowland (AONB).  Ribchester developed around a Roman cavalry fort (Bremetennacum  AD72/73) in support of the Roman advance into the north of Britain.  The name Ribchester (‘chester’) is thought to have its origins from the Roman word ‘caestre’ (fort) and was home to around 500 soldiers, acting as the main administrative centre for the Romans.  Numerous Roman artefacts have been discovered around the village over the years and many of these can be seen in the Ribchester Roman Museum as well as the British Museum in London. 

The village’s history immediately after the Roman Empire is less clear but it was considered to be a thriving village and farming community.  It is thought the village continued to hold much significance in the area with Henry V111’s antiquary visiting around 1540 and the author William Camden shortly afterwards, both noting the village’s history and importance. 

The idea for a museum in Ribchester was conceived by a local resident  Margaret Greenhall, who became interested in recording Roman artefacts and decided to open the museum in 1914 in order to prevent the Roman treasures leaving the village.  Ms Greenhall was also said to have discovered a ‘Principia’ (Headquarters) when construction work started on the building of her house.  Close to the museum is St Wilfrid’s Church which is well worth a visit as it was built using stones from the fort, replacing what was originally thought to be a 6th century timber church.  The present church dates to around 1220 and was built very close to the Principia – being one of four churches including the Roman Catholic church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s, the Evangelical Mission Church and St Wilfrid’s with St Saviour’s at Stydd.  Next to St Wilfrid’s churchyard visitors can see the ruins of the fort’s granaries used to store and feed the garrison for many months of the year.

Ribchester grew significantly during the 17th and 18th centuries due to the expansion of the cotton industry in Lancsashire and as a result there are a number of 17th century cottages once used by the loom weavers. The cottages have an unusual facade with three levels of windows and a small top single window, thought to provide extra light for weaving.  They are now converted into beautiful residential properties and at least one is available for holiday lets.  The weaving of textiles continued in the village’s mills (Bobbin Mill, Corporation Mill and Bee Mill) until the 1980s when sadly the last mill closed.  Whilst the other mills were demolished, Bee Mill was remodeled to house a range of local businesses.

The Grade 11 listed White Bull Inn with its unique portico, said to be supported by four Tuscan pillars from the Roman fort, is also close to the remains of the Roman baths which can be found just behind the Inn.  The White Bull has three en suite double rooms and is located in the centre of the village opposite the weavers’ cottages on Church Street and dates back to 1707.  The Inn has undergone a major refurbishment maintaining all its original features, including the unusual wooden white bull statue at the entrance.  Other dining and drinking venues in the village include Angels Restaurant, the vegetarian friendly Potters Barn cafe, the Black Bull serving home cooked food and traditional cask ales and the Ribchester Arms which also with three double en suite bedrooms.

There are lots of interesting things to see and do whilst visiting Ribchester, including Stydd Gardens on Stoneygate Lane which is home to a collection of creative businesses ranging from a garden nursery  specialising in roses, a garden design business, a unique wine merchant, vintage lighting specialist and a cafe and tea room in the beautiful glasshouse.  For those wanting to spend time wandering around the village, relax on the banks of the river or explore the Ribble Way walk, there is plenty of parking available and just off Church Street there is a pay and display car park.