A Brief History of Wetherby

Dec 20, 2018

Wetherby‘s recorded history began during the 12th century, when the fabled Knights Templar were granted land rights and properties in the North Yorkshire area.

Archaeological evidence shows that habitation of the Wetherby area stretches back to the Bronze Age, with the area having been settled by the Romans.

Wetherby would one day become a bustling market town, but the very first market was not held under 1240. Then known as Werreby, the Knights sought permission from incumbent King Henry III to hold a Thursday market.

Wetherby’s early history was dogged by continued invasions by raiding Scots. In the aftermath of the Battle of Bannockburn, much of the land north of Yorkshire fell to Scottish hands and the town was ransacked and pillaged.

A small castle was built by the Percy family during these raids, but it stood only for 15 years. Built by the Percy family to guard the crossing of the River Wharfe from Scottish raiders, the castle was not built with the permission of the monarchy, or Parliament, who ordered it demolished near two decades after construction finished.

Wetherby became an important stop on the road between London and Edinburgh, with the town’s industry built on providing for the many traders and travellers who stopped off on their journeys between the two capitals. At one point, there were as many as 40 inns and alehouses in the town.

In 1824, much of Wetherby was owned by the Dukes of Devonshire. The Cavendish family had grand plans to renovate and expand the town centre with a series of new housing developments. However, the family opted to sell WEtherby off en masse in a deal that saw all but one home transferred to new owners. ‘The Great Sale’, as it would be termed, financed largescale refurbishments of the Cavendish estate: Chatsworth House.

Wetherby was a rural town through to the industrial revolution, a central marketplace for the farmers and tradesmen of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside.

The Industrial Revolution brought new mills and breweries to Wetherby, and though the growth of the town wasn’t as dramatic as in other parts of Yorkshire, expansion did still occur. By the mid-19th century, Wetherby opened up rail services to the nearby cities of Leeds and York.

At the turn of the 20th century, Wetherby’s industry was still reliant on the market and the inns that had supported it for decades.

These days, Wetherby is a bustling town, still hosting the weekly market that once proved its origins. Close to the cities of Leeds and York and the sweeping environs of North Yorkshire, the town is a popular spot with commuters and visitors alike.

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