WENSLEY is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Wodnesleie meaning the "clearing dedicated to Woden" - it is one of the few Derbyshire place names associated with the worship of a pagan god, Woden being the god of war.
Lead mining has played an important part in Wensley's history and there are still one or two local people who tell of the miners treading the well worn path home at night with their lights flickering in the darkening hills, like a giant glow-worm. The Old Miner 's Path led from Mill Close mine (the biggest lead mine in Europe in its day) down Wensley Dale and up the hill past Brightgate and to Bonsall. There was hardly a family within 10 miles of the mine who at one time did not have a relative employed there. The mine closed in 1940, the smelting works was sold to the present owners, Enthovens, in 1941. The hillside between Wensley and Bonsall is peppered with old mine shafts.
The READING ROOM at the top of Wensley was built in 1891; yet again with money provided by Joseph and Sarah Taylor. The inscription that can be seen above the door translates "Sweet is the place of one's birth". At the moment the Reading Room Committee and people of Wensley are working hard to raise money to restore the Reading Room for the use of the village.
The original "Reading Room" and Dance Hall was above the old barn on the left going down the hill before the Square.
Darley Band originated in this room on 16th August 1880. The name of the band was then the Wensley Brass Band, and it was started by George Wright, a fiddler from Wensley, who wrote various pieces of music, including music for the Winster Morris Men; he was recognised by and became friendly with Cecil Sharp who was famous for his collections of folk songs and country dances. The band changed its name to the Darley Dale United Brass Band when it moved to the Whitworth Institute in 1898.
Just a little further up the hill on the opposite side before the corner, the cottage - currently the home of Mrs Mabel Tayloor used to be the Earl Grey pub.
On reading Croston's "On Foot through the Peak" published in 1876, we find that he stopped off at the Red Lion Inn "to dine on oatcake and cheese, the Landlord sat quietly smoking, on a long settle by the fire, whilst his daughter - a buxom lass of 18, was bustling about, attending to the wants of two or three hardy- looking rustics, who were discussing the affairs of the country over a social glass with the host."
Until recently the other surviving pub in the village was the Crown, which is in the corner of the Square; both the Red Lion and the Crown served dual purpose as hostelries and farms.
There was also a bullring in the Square at some time.