Historical and geographical information
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webpage about the Wensleydale has the
following section headings:
The Farndales of Wensleydale
the dale of the River Ure within
the Yorkshire Dales.
one of only a few Yorkshire Dales not currently named
after its principal river, but the older name, Yoredale, can
still be seen on some maps and as the Yoredale
Series of geological strata. The dale takes its name from the village
of Wensley, once the market town for the dale. Wensley derives from Woden's ley, or meadow of the pagan god Woden.
The valley is
famous for its cheese, with the main commercial production at Hawes.
Most of the dale is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Part of
lower Wensleydale, below East Witton, is within the Nidderdale Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty
was the home of one of Yorkshire's most famous clans, the Metcalfes, after they emigrated from Dentdale. The Metcalfe Society hold records dating back to Metcalfes living in the area during the 14th century. They
were one of the most prominent families in Yorkshire for more than five
centuries. Sir James Metcalfe (1389–1472), who was born and lived in
Wensleydale, was a captain in the army which fought with King Henry
V in the battle of Agincourt in 1415. A fortified
manor, Nappa Hall near Askrigg was
built by his son Sir Thomas Metcalfe. Metcalfe is still one of the most
common surnames in Yorkshire.
Castle in the village of Castle Bolton is a notable local
historic site. Building of the structure was begun by Richard le Scrope, Lord Treasurer and Lord Chancellor to Richard
II, in 1378. The building was finally completed in c.1399; the total cost was
approximately 18,000 marks. Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned there for
six months, ending in January 1569, under head keeper Sir Francis Knollys,
housed in the apartment of Henry Scrope; she was
allowed a retinue of 51, with 30 housed in the castle. The story goes that
she once escaped and made her way towards Leyburn but was captured at
a spot on "The Shawl" called "Queen's Gap".
The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the
County of York North Riding: Volume 1 Parishes: Wensley, 1914: This parish contains the townships of
Castle Bolton, Leyburn, Preston-under-Scar, Redmire
and Wensley, and covers some 8 miles of the northern slope of Wensleydale, and
certain lands of the township of Wensley on the south side of the river. Its
level ranges between 1,800 ft. in the north and about 350 ft. near the river.
Its area is about 14,445 acres, over 7,000 of these being permanent grass,
nearly 825 wood and barely 273 arable land. The chief
crop is hay. A large portion of the parish consists of high moorland. The
subsoil is limestone and the soil various. Coal and lead were worked here in
the 16th and 17th centuries, and old smelting-mills, quarries and limekilns
abound; freestone and lime are still worked. Stations at Leyburn, Wensley and Redmire, on the Northallerton and Hawes branch of the North Eastern railway, were opened in 1877.
been described as the prettiest village in Wensleydale. It lies on the Ure, at
the point where it is crossed by a 15th-century bridge, probably built with £40
left by Richard first Lord Scrope for the repair of
an earlier bridge. It was repaired in the 17th century and was widened about
1812. The road from the bridge runs through the village green, with its groups
of picturesque cottages. This probably represents a former market-place,
for in 1202 Hugh Malebiche gave King John a palfrey
for having a market here on Thursdays. James de Wensley in 1307 obtained a
market on Wednesdays and an annual fair on the eve, feast and morrow of the
Holy Trinity, this grant being renewed in 1318. Leland described Wensley as a 'litle, poore market.' Both fair
and market have been long disused. The church is at the south end of the green
and there is an elementary school in the village. On the west side of the green
is Wensley Hall, the residence of the Hon. William G. A. Orde-Powlett, M.P.,
J.P.; Wensley House, the residence of Mr. E. T. Umpleby, Lord Bolton's agent,
is in Bolton Park. Between them and faced by a large elm is the entrance to
Bolton Park, whence an avenue leads to Bolton Hall, the seat of Lord Bolton.
The house has projecting wings on the east and west, with steps leading to the
main entrance in the centre. Though the park is mentioned in 1630, the building
originally dated from about 1655. It was almost entirely
destroyed by fire in 1902 and has since then been rebuilt. Several
highly decorated lead water-pipes from the previous building dated 1678 are
fixed on the present walls. A mill at Wensley is mentioned in 1203 and 1672.