Infobox UK place
country = England
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]
region = North East England
constituency_westminster= North West Durham
post_town= BISHOP AUCKLAND
postcode_district = DL13
Wolsingham is a small market town in
Weardale, County Durham, England. It is situated by the River Wear, between Crook and Stanhope.
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
Stanhopewas their principal pastime. The bishps' hunting forest in Weardalewas the second largest in England after the New Forest.
It is traditionally reported that
Edward IIIon 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
Yorkshireand Newcastle upon Tynefrequented the market, as did hatters from Hexhamand 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
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, Frosterleyand Wolsingham.
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.
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