A Brief History of Bury, Lancashire


bury parish church

The name Bury, also earlier known as “Buri” and “Byri” comes from a Saxon word, probably meaning a stronghold and in bygone times the whole area was almost certainly covered in woodland, marsh and moorland and was likely inhabited by nomadic herdsmen. A Bronze Age funeral barrow has been located at Whitelow Hill in nearby Ramsbottom.

The Romans are believed to have arrived in Bury around 78 AD and Agricola, the Governor of Britain built roads out from his new fortress as Mamuciam (the origin of Manchester), one of which, Watling Street, crossed the Borough through Prestwich across the River Irwell at Radcliffe and continuing on through Affetside towards to Ribchester. Parts of the road are still visible today particularly around Affetside. It has been suggested that the village of Ainsworth may be near to or the site of Roman Coccium as the place has always been known by the nickname “Cockey Moor”.

During medieval times most of Bury was held by the the De Montbegons, Lords of the Manor of Tottington. This barony had been granted to Roger De Poitou at the end of the 11th century. By the 14th century, the manor had passed into the possession of the Pilkington family until 1485 when the lands of Sir Thomas Pilkington were forfeited because of his allegiance to Richard III. Later, under a new king, Henry, the lands were granted to one of his staunchest supporters, Thomas, Lord Stanley, who for his services was created Earl of Derby. The Stanley family have been Lords of the Manor ever since. In the south of the area most of the land was acquired by purchase of Lord Grey de Winton and his successor, the Earl of Wilton, is still the present owner. In the Middle Ages the Black Death led to a shortage of labour and it was at this time as large areas of arable land fell dormant that Bury appears to have become a centre for wool and woollen cloth. Little had changed in Bury until the beginning of the 18th century, when a revolution took place in the textile world. John Kay, born at Walmersley in Bury, developed the so-called “Flying Shuttle” and revolutionised cotton weaving.

Bury Market, Lancashire

Bury is known regionally today as a town whose thrice-weekly open-air market, held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, draws crowds of shoppers from far and wide. With stalls selling flowers, fruit, meat and fish, hardware, clothing, and groceries as well as various food outlets.

The town is famous also for the notorious Bury Black Pudding, a local delicacy, served boiling hot (or cold) and often eaten as a takeaway snack (available at the town’s market on market days) as well as an accompniment to a main meal.