Wolsingham


Wolsingham

Infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Wolsingham
population = 2,061 (2001) [http://www.durham.gov.uk/durhamcc/usp.nsf/Lookup/Wear%20Valley%20Settlement%20Summary%20Sheets%20Numbers/$file/Wear+Valley+Settlement+Summary+Sheets+Numbers.pdf]
shire_district= Wear Valley
region = North East England
shire_county = County Durham
constituency_westminster= North West Durham
post_town= BISHOP AUCKLAND
postcode_district = DL13
postcode_area= DL
dial_code= 01388
os_grid_reference= NZ075375
latitude= 54.731
longitude= -1.882

Wolsingham is a small market town in Weardale, County Durham, England. It is situated by the River Wear, between Crook and Stanhope.

History

Wolsingham sits at the confluence of the River Wear and Waskerley Beck. It is a Saxon settlement and one of the first market towns in County Durham, deriving its name from Waelsingas or Sons of Wael an ancient Saxon family that once resided there. The earliest known record of the town is to be found in Reginald of Durham's "Life of Godric" where it is stated that the Saint lived there for almost 2 years about 1120 AD with Elric the hermit .

Wolsingham was then a thriving community, holding land by servile tenure. There were shepherds, plough-makers, beekeepers, forest keepers, wood turners, carters etc. They toiled for two purposes-producing corn and other foodstuffs for themselves and supplying the larder of the Bishop's Castle. The Bishop and his friends indulged in hawking, but hunting for red deer in the parks of Wolsingham and Stanhope was their principal pastime. The bishps' hunting forest in Weardale was the second largest in England after the New Forest.

It is traditionally reported that Edward III on returning from his unfruitful encounter with the Scots in weardale in April 1327 rested at the Pack Horse Inn then situated in the High Street.

In 1615, a market charter was granted to the bailiff and inhabitants of Wolsingham and in 1667, the charter was confirmed with the appointment of a piece of land to hold the market and fairs. This market was of considerable importance and offered great facilities to the surrounding districts. There were several looms in the town; table linens, draperies, weaving materials and clothes were always in demand. Drapers from Yorkshire and Newcastle upon Tyne frequented the market, as did hatters from Hexham and Barnard Castle. Spices and gingerbread were also on sale.

There is a memorial to the Roman Catholic priest John Duckett, marking the spot where he was arrested before being taken to Tyburn, where he was executed in 1644. There is a Roman Catholic Church and Convent(now converted to a housing complex) in the town, along with large Church of England, Baptist, and Methodist congregations.

A Grammar School was established in 1614, and in 1911 a new building was opened. It is now part of a split site Comprehensive school

Modern Wolsingham

Wolsingham Agricultural Society holds its annual show on the first weekend in September. It is said to be the oldest show in the country and this year recorded a record attendance of 35,000 on its first day.

Wolsingham is the current terminus of the Weardale Railway. Heritage trains are currently running on the 5 miles section of track between Stanhope, Frosterley and Wolsingham.

Trivia

Early on the morning of Saturday 26 May 2007, a van carrying oxy-acetylene welding equipment exploded in the town, killing one man and causing significant damage to local property.

The town has a children's recreation area inhabited by many ducks. It is still known locally as "The Willas", which is the Anglo-Saxon word for duck-pond.

References


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