An attractive market town situated midway between the coast and the Broads
An Introduction to Aylsham
Aylsham is an attractive market town, situated beside the upper reaches of the River Bure. Aylsham has an unspoilt market place, surrounded by 18th century houses, reflecting the towns prosperity from the cloth trade during that period. The 14th century church of St. Michael dominates views of Aylsham and it is claimed it was funded by John O'Gaunt (who is also pictured on the town sign). Aylsham is the Northern terminus of the Bure Valley Railway that runs to Wroxham. Aylsham has plenty facilities including interesting shops, pubs and tea-rooms. Nearby Blickling Hall is a
magnificent Jacobean house, garden and park,
famed for its long gallery, fine tapestries, paintings and rare books. Blickling Hall is also home to
the ghost of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second queen!
We start our tour of Aylsham in the unspoilt market place, which has some lovely 18th century buildings and gives views towards the large church.
A clock sits proudly above the town hall, situated right in the centre of the market place. The history of the town includes John of Gaunt (shown on the town sign) being Lord of the Manor in 1372, at a time when Aylsham was famous for its fine linen. Aylsham went on to be a major wool and textile producing area. Today, the picturesque market place holds a twice weekly market on a Monday and a Friday.
Aylsham Market Place - Market day is Monday
Views across Aylsham
Aylsham Town Sign, showing John of Gaunt
Aylsham Town Hall
Aylsham is a typical North Norfolk market town. In the middle ages, Norfolk had the greatest concentration of markets in the whole country - you would find a market every 10 miles or so! The markets would mainly be used by local farmers to sell their produce. By the 16th century, many of Norfolk's markets had closed, but the market place and surrounding narrow streets remain today. Aylsham still has a thriving twice weekly market every Monday and a Friday - a good time to make your visit.
Radiating from the market place, Aylsham has some lovely streets, lanes and yards, containing a few small, individual shops. The street plan has changed little since medieval times and many of the properties are actually older than they look. Updated building façades mask timber frames and high pitched roofs that were once thatched.
Shops in Aylsham
Boxes & Bags of Fun Aylsham
Flower Shop in Aylsham
Hungate Street, one of Aylsham's pretty streets
Bayfield House in White Hart Street
Property with Dutch Gables in Hungate Street
The famous Aylsham Hotel, the Black Boys Inn, is situated in one corner of the market place. The hotel dates back to the 17th century and has had some famous guests, including Horatio Nelson. The name "Black Boys" is thought to originate from the black boy slaves who were used as servants in local wealthy households in the 17th century. Aylsham also has a few restaurants and tea-rooms stattered around the town centre.
Aylsham Hotel Black Boys Inn
The Old Tea Rooms, Red Lion Street
Simply 16 Cafe & Restaurant, Aylsham
Mrs Potts Tea Shoppe, Red Lion Street
Built in 1911, the Water Pump provided the town with fresh clean water. It is 170 feet deep, with a roof of Norfolk thatch. It was used until 1938, when a piped water supply replaced it.
Aylsham Water Pump
The large town church of St Michael and All Angels stands in its own grounds, just behind the market place. The church stands on the site of a former church, dating back to the 14th century. The view of the church tower dominates the town and can be seen for miles. Inside, the church is large and spacious, with a superb 15th century rood screen and some lovely Victorian stained glass.
Aylsham Church of St. Michael
Church Tower and Clock
Looking up Aylsham Church Tower
Inside the Nave of Aylsham Church
Aylsham Church Rood Screen
Aylsham Church Stained Glass Window
The tomb of the famous garden designer Humphry Repton can be found near the chancel door of the church. He died in March 1818 and apparently even designed his own tomb and composed the verse which is written on his tombstone!
Aylsham is the Northern terminus of the Bure Valley Railway, a narrow gauge steam railway through the picturesque Bure Valley countryside to Wroxham.
At Aylsham Station, you can see a working engine repair shed and there is also a shop. The station marks the start of the Bure Valley Walk, a walking/cycle route alongside the narrow gauge railway line all the way to Wroxham.
Steam Engine "Spitfire" at Aylsham Station
Aylsham Station, Bure Valley Railway
Bure Valley Railway Engine, Aylsham
Bure Valley Railway Workshop, Aylsham
Aylsham Station Shop, Bure Valley Railway
Blickling Hall is only a couple of miles from Aylsham and is a
magnificent Jacobean house, garden and park,
famed for its long gallery, fine tapestries, paintings and rare books.
The extensive grounds are used in summer as the venue of various concerts. The hall is owned by the National Trust and see their website for more information.
Blickling Hall, near Aylsham
Close up of the front of Blickling Hall
Blickling Hall Cottages, near Aylsham
Autumn colours at Blickling Hall
Blickling Hall and Lake
Blickling Country Park
The Lake at Blickling Hall Country Park
It is claimed that Blickling Hall is haunted by the ghost of Anne Boleyn.
Every year on the anniversary of her execution on 19th May 1536, a carriage arrives at the
hall, pulled by headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. Anne steps out the carriage and wanders the corridors of the hall, if disturbed, she just vanishes into thin air, not to be seen until the following year!
The area around Blickling Hall is lovely rural Norfolk countryside and a great place for a walk or cycle ride. The long distance footpath, the Weavers Way, crosses bridleways and other footpaths. There is a country pub (Devonshire Arms) and Blickling village church (St Andrew).
St Andrew Church, adjacent to Blickling Hall
Weavers Way and other footpaths at Blickling Hall
The Buckinghamshire Arms, a country pub near Blickling Hall
Finally, on the road from Aylsham to Cromer you will find Alby Crafts and Gardens. This lovely art and craft centre, surrounded by over four acres of ponds and gardens, are home to a collection of working studios, shops and a gallery.
Alby Crafts and Gardens
Ceramics at Alby Craft Centre
Entrance to the Tea-room and Gallery
View across the garden pond
Aylsham Summary of what to SEE and DO
Enjoy the historic market place and local market (market days are Monday and Friday)
Investigate the many interesting shops
Explore the large parish church
Take a ride on the Bure Valley Railway to Wroxham
Visit nearby Blickling Hall
Take a refreshment in a tea room, cafe or pub
Aylsham is a lovely Norfolk market town, with plenty of character. It is a great place to visit and you can combine your trip with a visit to nearby Blickling Hall or a ride on the Bure Valley Railway.