WENSLEY, a parish in the wapentake of Hang West, and liberty of Richmondshire; 1½ mile W. of Leyburn. Wensleydale, the valley which derives its name from this village, is of considerable width, lying between two ranges of hills, is adorned with several villages, and watered by the river Ure. The situation of Wensley is delightful; sheltered by a long ridge of hills, alternately wood and rock to the north, and gently elevated above the bank of the Ure, it overlooks a plain of high fertility, beyond which an irregular and pleasing tract of cultivated grounds, woods and pastures, ascends before the eye and terminates in the bold and purple form of Penhill to the south: upward the landscape is at once soft and magnificent, and the opening of Bishopdale, where it falls into the vale of Ure, affords, by its depth and mountain character, a fine contrast to the luxuriant groves and meadows of the latter.
Upon the whole, Wensleydale may rank with the first of our northern values. Besides its natural beauties, the parish of Wensley exhibits three most interesting objects; its parish church; the castle of its ancient, and the mansion of its modern Lords. The parish church is a neat structure, dedicated to the Holy Trinity (see Churches for photograph); the living is a rectory, in the patronage of Lord Bolton Richard Scroop, Lord of Bolton, formed the design . of making this church collegiate, and in the 22d of Richard II. he obtained the king's licence for this purpose; but from some cause, not explained, it is believed that the foundation which was meant to be very extensive never took place. The bridge at Wensley is of considerable antiquity, and is thus noticed by Leland, near three hundred years ago-" The fayre bridge of 3 or 4 arches that is on Ure at Wencelaw, a mile or more above Middleham, was made about 200 years ago and more, by one caullyd Alwine, parson of Wencelaw." To the regret of the lovers of antiquity, but for the benefit of trade, and for the safety of the inhabitants, this venerable bridge was widened and repaired by the North Riding in 1818. Population, 317.
[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]