During my research into the life of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, I discovered that when he granted the monks of Stanlaw Abbey (founded by his great, great grandfather John around 1172) permission to move to Whalley one of the conditions that he stipulated was that the remains of his ancestors should be taken from Stanlaw and reburied in the new Abbey church at Whalley.
The move was quite a long time coming as the monks were unable to move until after the death of Peter de Cestria in 1296. There were other problems and it was not until 1306 that the ground was consecrated and in 1308 Henry de Lacy himself laid the foundation stone of the church.
The church was not completed until around 1380 by which time both Henry and his daughter Alice, the last surviving legitimate member of the de Lacy family, were both dead. There is no record of the remains of the de Lacy ancestors being reburied in the church, but as Geoffrey Ainsworth Williams says in his history of the abbey Locus Benedictus (the blessed place) “the monks were nor unmindful of how much they owed to the Earl of Lincoln and his family, and in the medieval period great importance was attached to the preservation of relics and the veneration of tombs of ancestors.”
This afternoon I was wandering amongst the ruins of the abbey when I noticed the remains of a huge stone slab, which looked as if it was a tombstone, within what was once the abbey church. It clearly bears the arms of the de Lacy family -the rampant lion.
The shield is etched to the left of what looks like a cross and it seems reasonable to surmise that another shield, possibly that of the Barons of Halton, was on the right hand side. If this is indeed a stone that marks a grave then is it possible that this is where the remains of Henry de Lacy’s ancestors lie?