What's the secret of Aylsham's success?
PUBLISHED: 10:20 15 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:34 15 April 2019
It's famed for its relaxed atmosphere and welcoming people, and now a national newspaper has discovered the many charms of Aylsham in north Norfolk. Reporter DAVID BALE spoke to community leaders and shopkeepers to find out why it's such a great place to live and work in.
Aylsham is one of three locations in Norfolk to make a list of the best places to live in the east of England.
The market town features on The Sunday Times Best Places to Live list for 2019.
Community and business leaders in the town have named various reasons for its success, but they all agree on one attribute the town possess in abundance, and this is community spirit.
Sue Lake, town clerk, said: “We get a lot of people telling us what a good place Aylsham is to live in.
“It's hard to put your finger on it in a way. There's a very good community spirit here.
“There are lots of independent shops but also a smattering of bigger shops as well. Its size helps it, as you can quite easily walk around the town. It's an easy town to negotiate.”
Johnny Payne and Jason Gibbons are the joint proprietors at Coxford's butchers in the Market Place.
Mr Payne said: “It's a close-knit community and a lovely atmosphere.
“Nearly everybody knows each other, and everyone makes time for other people. I can hardly walk down the street without people speaking to me.
“It's a lovely place to live. It's midway between the coast and the city. You've got all the amenities you need here, and there are three or four good schools. You can get nearly everything you want in Aylsham, and most of the shopkeepers have time for you.”
Ben Gallon, manager at GF White traditional butchers in Red Lion Street, which has been in the town since 1855, said: “It's a close community and people support each other. The town's also very good in supporting its elderly population.”
Aylsham is thought to have been founded around 500 AD by an Anglo-Saxon thegn called Aegel.
Aegel's Ham means Aegel's settlement, and the town is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Elesham and Ailesham, with a population of about 1,000. The population at the 2011 census was 3,999.
Its historic market place is owned by the National Trust as part of the nearby Blickling Hall estate.
To compile the definitive top locations to live, the Sunday Times supplement assessed a wide range of factors, from employment, schools and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops. It used statistics, including exclusive up-to-date house prices, but also the knowledge of The Sunday Times's expert panel.
The judges combined the hard data with their own on-the-ground experience and insight to ensure the chosen locations truly are places where everyone can thrive.
The two other places in Norfolk to make the list are Norwich and Blakeney.
The full list, including the overall winner, is being published in the paper on Sunday, April 14.
Helen Davies, The Sunday Times home editor, said: “Finding our very own best place to live now feels more important than ever, for our wellbeing and wealth, happiness and health.
“Wherever you are on the property ladder The Sunday Times has championed 101 locations across the UK, and crowned one lucky winner, that we think is a great place to make a home.
“This year we were looking for community spirit along with convenience and culture. There is so much going on around the country, and so many great places that the choice was a hard one.”