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For other uses, see Wooler (disambiguation).
Wooler Town Centre - geograph.org.uk - 240656.jpg
Wooler Town Centre
Wooler is located in Northumberland
 Wooler shown within Northumberland
Population 1,983 (2011 census(including Earle))[1]
OS grid reference NT989280
Unitary authority Northumberland
Ceremonial county Northumberland
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WOOLER
Postcode district NE71
Dialling code 01668
Police Northumbria
Fire Northumberland
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Berwick-upon-Tweed
List of places

Coordinates: 55°32′46″N 2°01′00″W / 55.5461°N 2.0166°W / 55.5461; -2.0166

Wooler (/ˈwʊlər/ WUUL-ər) is a small town in Northumberland, England. It lies on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, by the Cheviot Hills and so is a popular base for walkers and is referred to as the "Gateway to the Cheviots". As well as many shops and pubs, the town boasts a youth hostel, many hotels and campsites. It lies on the St. Cuthbert's Way long distance trail between Melrose Abbey and Lindisfarne.

The main A697 runs by the town linking Morpeth to Coldstream on the Scottish Border. Wooler contains two schools; Wooler First School and Glendale Middle School.

Close by is Yeavering Bell crowned by a large iron-age fort, a stronghold of the Votadini.


Wooler was not recorded in the Domesday Book, because when the book was written in 1086, northern Northumbria was not under Norman control. However, by 1107, at the time of the creation of the 1st Baron of Wooler, the settlement was described as "situated in an ill-cultivated country under the influence of vast mountains, from whence it is subject to impetuous rains". Wooler subsequently enjoyed a period of prosperity and with its expansion it was granted a licence in 1199 to hold a market every Thursday. The St. Mary Magdalene Hospital was established around 1288.

Wooler is close to Humbleton Hill the site of a severe Scottish defeat at the hands of Harry Hotspur in 1402. This battle is referred to at the beginning of William Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 1 – of which Hotspur is the dashing hero.

Wooler also used to have a drill hall that was the local "picture house" which children were evacuated to in World War II. There also used to be a fountain situated at the top of Church Street in the town.[2] There are three churches in the town, all of which are Grade II listed buildings. The Anglican St Mary's dates from 1765 but has had church on the site for 700 years, the Catholic St Ninian's dates from 1856 while the United Reformed Church in Cheviot Street dates from 1778.[3]

Alexander Dalziel of Wooler (1781–1832) was the father of the celebrated Dalziel Brothers. Seven of his eight sons were artists, and became celebrated engravers in London.[4] Their sister Margaret was also an engraver.

Between 1887 and 1965 the town was served by Wooler railway station on the Alnwick to Cornhill Branch.

Meaning of place-name[edit]

Wooler may be from Old English wella "well, spring" and ofer (ridge, hill). A record of the name as Welnfver in 1186 seems to suggest this origin. The well or spring referred to is the River Till. The Wooler Water, (part of which is also known as `Happy Valley'), is a tributary of the River Till and is formed by a confluence of the Harthope and Carey Burns which rise in the Cheviot Hills, to the south of Wooler.

The other origin may be "Wulfa's hillside", from the Old English personal name Wulfa "wolf" and őra "hillside, slope", although this word in place-names usually means "river mouth, shore". A record of the name as Wulloir in 1232 may suggest this origin. It is not certain which is the actual origin.


An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward stretches from the Scottish Border south-east to Ingram with a total population taken at the 2011 Census of 4,266.[5]

Notable people[edit]

  • John Alexander (1830–1916) was born in Wooler,[6] and was Chief Clerk to Bow Street Magistrates' Court from 1877 to 1895.
  • Josephine Butler (1828–1906) was a feminist campaigner who led the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act was born in Milfield not far from Wooler, and retired to a house in Wooler in her final years.
  • Grace Darling (1815–1842) was a shipwreck heroine who came to Wooler in the last stages of her fatal illness.[7]


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.wooler.org.uk/history.htm wooler.org.uk
  3. ^ "Glendale Church Trail" (leaflet), Glendale Alive Partnership, no ISBN, Gives details of churches.
  4. ^ The Dalziel Brothers - National Portrait Gallery
  5. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Public Records Office 1841 Census HO 107/833/12 (parish of Wooler)
  7. ^ Ridley, Nancy (1966). Portrait of Northumberland (reprint ed.). London: Robert Hale. OCLC 503957631. 

External links[edit]