The name of the village is a local curiosity, as its pronunciation (and occasional spelling) differs from what one might expect. On local signs, the village is sometimes marked as Woolsery alongside the original name. This is due to the pronunciation of the village’s name being /ˈwʊlzəri/. The name also provides evidence for the power of the written word in conserving place-names: the shortened pronunciation is known to have been in use since the 17th century.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names (Eilert Ekwall, 4th ed., 1960), the origin of the name is probably ‘Wulfheard’s homestead’. The element ‘worthy’ is from Old English worþig, one of several words used by the Anglo-Saxons to denote a homestead, farmstead or small settlement. Who Wulfheard was, or whether both Devon villages are named after the same man, cannot be known, but the relative proximity of two villages with such an unusual name is intriguing.
It is published – that anciently there was a monk named Wulfheard in south-east Devon. Perhaps both villages are named for this monk.