Thornton in Craven’s “Millennium Corner” occupies an important position close to ancient highways and the manorial site. Bronze Age artefacts and a Celtic stone head show it was occupied in pre-historic times. The Roman road to Burwain Castle, Elslack’s ancient fort, passes close behind this corner. In 1824 theColne to Broughton Turnpike Trust road came through, replacing the steeper remote Colne to Skipton Turnpike above Thornton moor. Thornton’s Toll Bar which was demolished in 1938, stood on the low side of the present road.
There were three manors on virtually the same site. The first, built in the 12th century, was burned down in 1645 during a Civil War siege; the second only lasted one hundred and fifty years, and the third, built by the Sutcliffe’s in 1870, is now Thornton Hill. The 1085 Domesday survey called the village ‘Torentun’, a thorn tree farmstead. Nearby Eurebi (Earby) and Chelbrok (Kelbrook combined into the ancient parish until the 19th century. In 1299 Walter deMuncey obtained a Royal Charter ‘of free warren’ to hunt, and to hold a market on Thursdays, and a fair for five days commencing the eve of St Thomas.
The church built in the 13th century, was re-built in the 15th by Thomas Lord Ros, James Carr added the tower in 1510. In 1764 Henry Richardson covered the churchyard’s ancient well and during the mid 1800s Canon Lawrence Stuart Morris was Rector for fifty-one years. Thornton moor was enclosed in 1825 as Rectory and Glebe allotments by an Act of Parliament, then sold off in lieu of tithes.