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Sitting beside a major Roman road, on the south bank of the River Wiske mentioned in the Domesday Book 1086, and still using a church, St Leonards founded in 1129 with 9th Century features, Welbury has a long established history.

In 1086 the two 'manors' of 6 carucates at Welbury were in the hands of the king, having been forfeited by Fredgist and Melmidoc, the tenants under the Confessor. It formed part of the fee given to Robert de Brus, and the overlordship followed the descent of his manor of Skelton .

Walter de Ingram gave the church of Welbury, with its 2 oxgangs of land and dwelling-house, to Guisborough Priory probably at or soon after its foundation by Robert de Brus in 1129. At its surrender in 1539 the priory apparently still held the advowson (or "Patronage") and it received a yearly pension from the rectory of £1 6s. 8d. The advowson of the rectory still remains in the hands of the Crown

However, the village is not especially endowed with historical celebrity. Rather, its character is genuinely ordinary, of its quiet agricultural type, concealing the life of people through the ages of dramatic political, economic and physical change