WolsinghamWolsingham 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 the Monk’s Life of Godric where it is stated that the Saint lived there for almost 2 years about 1120 AD with Elric the hermit.
According to the Domesday Book of Durham Wolsingham was 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 Bishops 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.
It is traditionally reported that Edward III on return from an expedition against the Scots 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 1667the charter was confirmed with the appointment of a piece of land to hold the market and fairs. The market was of considerable importance and offered great facilities to the neighbouring district. There were several looms in the town ,table linens, drapers, weaving materials and clothes etc. were always in demand. Yorkshire and Newcastle drapers frequented the market as did hatters hatters from Hexham . Barnard Castle spice and gingerbread was also in evidence. Unfortunately, despite revival attempts , the market has long ceased to exist.A Market Cross was erected in 1782 although in all probability there was an earlier one. It was customary for funerals to pass round the market cross on the way to Church evidently with the idea of respecting the cross as an emblem of christianity. The stocks were adjacent to the Market Cross.
Wolsingham - Part 2