Wolsingham is a 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 small settlement and one of the first market towns in County Durham, potentially deriving its name from the legendary Germanic family the Waelsingas, or from the personal name “Wolfsige”. 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 two 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 bishops’ hunting forest in Weardale was the second largest in England after the New Forest.
The oldest houses in Wolsingham are at Whitfield Place on Front Street, there are three cottages, the left-most dated 1677 and with the initials ‘DM’.
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