The name ‘Ormskirk’ is Old Norse in origin and is derived from Ormres kirkja, from a personal name, Ormr (which means "serpent" or dragon), and the Old Norse word for church. Ormr may have been a Viking who settled here, became a Christian and founded the church but there are no other records or archeological evidence to support this and Ormr's identity is unknown.
The distinctive tower and spire of Ormskirk Parish Church.The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is believed to be on the site of the original kirk, on a sandstone outcrop, and is the oldest building in the town. Its exact age is unknown; the building does contain some fragments of Norman architecture.
This is one of only three parish churches in England to have a tower and a spire, and is unique in that it has both at the same end of the building. Legend has it that Orme had two sisters, one who wanted a tower and one who wanted a spire, and Orme built both to please both. Regrettably, the truth is not so romantic. The 'steeple' dates from the early fifteenth century, but the original blew down in 1731 and was rebuilt between 1790 and 1832. The large west tower was added to the church around 1548 to house the bells of nearby Burscough Priory following the dissolution of the monasteries. One of these bells can still be seen in the church.
Ormskirk Market - one of the country's oldest and most traditional street markets - gives the town an extra buzz each Thursday and Saturday. Dating back to 1286 when the monks at nearby Burscough Priory were granted a Royal Charter by Edward 1 to hold a weekly outdoor market, it is still a focal point for locals and visitors alike.
With over 120 stalls, set in the pedestrianised area in the heart of the town around the famous Clock Tower and on the nearby Market Way car park, the market attracts hundreds of bargain hunters each market day.
The market is open for business each Thursday and Saturday from 8.00am-4.30pm during March to October and 8.00am-4.00pm November to February.