It is likely that Osmotherley means the clearing or 'ley' (pronounced lee), belonging to a Viking called 'Asmund' or a Saxon called 'Osmund'. There have been a number spellings of the Osmotherley over the centuries: the name appeared in the Domesday Book as Asmundrelac; it has also been known as Osmundeslay and Osmonderlay.
The village school was founded 1857, the present building dates from 1878. The school is now known as Osmotherley Primary School. It is located on School Lane and has around 60 pupils.
The public toilets are situated by the side of the Church Hall (which hosts book sales and tea sales on Sundays and Bank Holidays.) These toilets have been voted the best in the UK on several occasions and are filled with flowers and decorated with pictures of horses.
The village is served by a newsagents, a 'Top Shop' store, a fantastic and hygenic fish and chip shop, a Youth Hostel, an antiquated antique store, and a recently opened Art and Craft Shop (now closed). In the novel 'Brothers in the Land', the Osmotherley tea shop was the last British business standing following a nuclear holocaust.
Sadly, the shop that has served Osmotherley since 1786, 'Thompson', has recently closed.
John Wesley preached at the barter table in the middle of Osmotherley on several occasions. His first visit was in 1745. In 1754 a Chapel was erected. is the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world, it can be found in Chapel Yard.
Osmotherley is also home to Osmotherley Friends Meeting House, which is a traditional stone building, erected in 1690 or 1723. Meetings are still held here once a month. It is thought that George Fox may have visited the village in the late 17th century.
Cod Beck Reservoir at Osmotherley gets its name from Cod Beck, a small tributary of the River Swale. The beck derives its name from the Celtic word 'Coed', meaning woody. Just before Cod Beck reaches the reservoir is a picturesque location called Sheepwash.
Osmotherley is close to the western terminus of the Lyke Wake Walk. The official starting point is at the edge of the moors above the village, where there is a stone marker.
About 1½ miles from Osmotherley near the A19 is Mount Grace Priory. These beautiful ruins are situated at the foot of a steep wooded hill with a footpath leading up it into the village. This Carthusian religious house was founded around 1396.
Osmotherley is the setting of some of the final chapters of the book Brother in the Land written by Robert Swindells. In this book, many towns and cities in were hit by individually programmed nuclear missiles, but Osmotherley's small size meant that it was spared.