Historic and friendly Aylsham has plenty to offer local and visitor alike.

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Aylsham Market Place

Where is Aylsham?

The edge of town meets the A140 Norwich to Cromer road. The centre is about a mile away. Within easy reach of the marvellous north and north-east coasts of Norfolk and Norwich, if you must.

What is Aylsham like?

An historic market town, Aylsham is handy for the city of Norwich, the North Norfolk coast and the Broads.

Hungate street, Aylsham

The wide market place - still with a lively market, interesting old buildings and varied shops, make it the business and shopping centre for the surrounding villages, and for visitors from further afield.

History of Aylsham

The towns recorded names at the time of the Domesday Book were Ailesham and Elesham.

In 1372, the town of Aylsham and other manors and estates in Norfolk were bestowed to John of Gaunt by his father King Edward III. John appears today on the Aylsham town sign.

Blickling Hall, Aylsham

During the 13th Century the worstead industry was the towns main industry. Manufacturing continued until the 18th century.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the turnpike road from Norwich to Aylsham brought more traffic and therefore more prosperity to Aylsham. Seventeen years later a turnpike road from Aylsham to Cromer was begun and this too, brought trade to the town.

What to do in and around Aylsham

Town events include the weekly livestock auction, with very different auctions at G A Key, whose sales of antiques, furniture and collectables attract visitors from miles around.

Red Lion Street is full of interesting shops, many in 18th and 19th century houses.

The Bridewell is the house of correction built in 1543 and used for vagabonds and prostitutes and later a lock-up for short term sentences. The original house was rebuilt in 1787 and used as a prison until 1825 when it was turned into offices.

The oldest house in Aylsham is the Manor House, dating around 1550.

The Black Boys public house is referred to as early as 1655. Nelson is said to have danced here in the Assembly Room, and Parson Woodforde, the Norfolk diarist, ate here during the 1780s.

St Michael's Church is believed to have been founded by John of Gaunt when he was lord of the manor, in around 1380.

It's a large, light church, with a 1637 carved Jacobean pulpit and a 15th century octagonal font.

In the churchyard is a grave over which is still the old iron-barred covering, fixed there to prevent the body being dug up at a time when body snatchers were well paid for their activities.

Also in this churchyard is the tomb of the well-known 18th century landscape gardener, Humphry Repton. He designed the garden of Blickling Hall and those of other Norfolk mansions. The inscription reads:

Not like Egyptian tyrants consecrate
Unmixed with others shall my dust remain
But mold'ring, blending, melting into earth
Mine shall give form and colour to the rose
And while its vivid blossoms cheer mankind
Its perfumed odours shall ascend to heaven

The Aylsham Show run by the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association - takes place on August Bank Holiday weekend at Blickling Park.

There is a narrow gauge train service, the Bure Valley Railway, which runs to Wroxham, stopping for pick-ups and drop-offs on the way. Can be allied with a boat trip on the Broads at Wroxham.

What else is in the area?

Visit Blickling Hall, the National Trusts flagship property just a couple of miles outside town. This stately home hardly needs an introduction, but remember its not just a grand house the formal grounds and the sizeable park (the latter being free to enter) are also magnificent.

And if you can get to one of the outdoor summer concerts, with stars like Katie Melua and Meatloaf, all the better.

There are other impressive houses, gardens and estates nearby, including Mannington, Wolterton, Felbrigg and Sheringham Park. Aylshams parish church, St Michaels, is an impressive site.

Some nice ways of getting to and from Aylsham by foot, bike or horse, including the Marriotts Way, which weaves rather eccentrically through Reepham, Lenwade and Drayton, eventually taking you close to the centre of Norwich.

Aylsham directory

Parish Council: Town Hall, Market Place. Tel: 01263 733354
Library: Hungate Street
Citizen's Advice Bureau: Monday mornings at the Library, Hungate Street.

St Michaels Nursery and Infant School, Schoolhouse Lane, Blickling Road. 01263 732260.
Bure Valley School, Hungate Street. 01263 732644.
Aylsham High School, Sir Williams Lane. 01263 733270.

Did you know ...

... that at 4pm on 22nd June 1897, 1700 people dined in the market place to celebrate Queen Victorias Diamond Jubilee.