It was recently named one of the UK's best places to live by both the Sunday Times and lifestyle magazine Muddy Stilettos - but what makes Aylsham so special?

Who better to ask about what makes the north Norfolk market town stand out from the crowd than those who live and work there and are at the centre of everything the town prides itself on. 

Aylsham is one of the UK's three 'Cittaslow' towns – part of a movement which promotes leisurely lifestyles to combat the stresses of modern life .

And it's the “little things" in Aylsham that "make a big difference”, according to the Sunday Times' coveted annual 'Best Places to Live' guide. 

Trevor Bennett, Aylsham Town Council chairman, said: “It’s a great place to live and to be named in the Times’ list is great news for Aylsham.

“It’s changed in the last 40 years I’ve lived here. It’s grown but it has still retained its Georgian market town feel.

"I think that’s one of the reasons people like it so much.”

Eastern Daily Press:

Mr Bennett said Aylsham was a place where “more people are getting involved” in an ever-increasing variety of social activities.

The town's “thriving” recreation ground is home to a tennis club with 300 members, and more than 100 people are associated with the cricket club.

“The facilities for young people seem a lot better than when my kids were growing up,” he said.

“It’s always had a community feel, but I think it’s more so now than ever.”

That sentiment was echoed by Patrick Prekopp, chairman of Slow Food Alysham – a group championing and celebrating local food and hosts the town’s annual Slow Food Festival.

Mr Prekopp said: “It’s a place with community spirit and a heritage we try to protect.

“One way or another we all muck in and there are so many community groups doing so much good work.

"People here enjoy living a nice lifestyle and we’re attracting more places for foodies.

“Slow Food Aylsham is all about introducing people to new healthy foods, encouraging them to shop local to reduce food milage and support the local economy.”

Eastern Daily Press: Patrick Prekopp, leader of Slow Food Aylsham, which organises the Aylsham Food Festival, with the group\'s sign

The independently-minded high street features the popular Black Boys hotel and pub, as well as a butcher, bakery, independent restaurants, bars and cafes.

Matthew Miller, owner of the Black Boys, said the “bustling, busy market town” between Norwich and the north Norfolk coast was attracting more and more tourists to Norfolk.

“It’s becoming more and more of a thriving town, with a lot more hospitality venues opening,” he said.

“It ticks a lot of boxes for people who want to be close to the coast and city.”

Eastern Daily Press: Matthew Miller, manager of the Black Boys pub in Aylsham's Market Place. 


Mr Miller took over as manager of the Black Boys in 2002 after recognising the potential of Aylsham, which he said was “quietly bubbling away in the background” at the time.

“It’s a beautiful building in the middle of a market place,” he said.

“It’s spoken of by a lot of local people as the hub of the town.

“Everyone seems to get on and it has a real community vibe and spirit. It’s a lovely area to live.”  

Rosa Marshall, manager of Bread Source - which was established as an independent bakery in Aylsham 11 years ago - said there are “some real gems” to be found in the area.

The bakery is located in the Market Place after previously being based a stone's throw away in Red Lion Street.

“It’s a town with a traditional yet modern feel,” Ms Marshall said.

Eastern Daily Press:

“Each business gets to know one another. Our customers are always very supportive and friendly.

“Although it’s continuously growing there’s still so much love and care going into all of the products and always so much support from the community.”

Eastern Daily Press:

Eastern Daily Press: Trevor Bennett, chairman of Aylsham Town Council, said the rapid growth over the last five years has "created problems within the town".