Aylsham is a bustling market town that stands next to the River Bure in North Norfolk, close to the beautiful Norfolk Broads. There are many fine 17th and 18th century buildings and an impressive mid-Victorian watermill whose ancestry can be traced back to the Domesday Book and up until 1969 it was still working.
Aylsham was famed for its linen and canvas industry during the 14th century and then later on became renowned for its weaving of woollen and worstead cloths. Sadly, this industry was killed by the development of the knitting frame.
Standing near to the market place is the flint-faced church of St Michael, a fine example of Gothic architecture of the Decorated style. Within its 14th century tower there is a ring of ten bells, considered one of the finest rings in the county.
The town is close to some very large estates and grand country houses including Blickling, Felbrigg, Mannington and Wolterton, which are popular tourist attractions and easily accessible from Aylsham.
The town’s market place, which is owned by the National Trust, hosts two weekly markets a monthlyfarmer’s market and other community events.
Aylsham is the terminus for the Bure Valley Railway, a 15in minimum gauge heritage railway which runs from Wroxham to Aylsham and is Norfolk’s longest railway of less than standard gauge. Welcoming over 100,000 visitors each year, it’s a popular tourist attraction and attracts visitors from afar.
Aylsham Show is held annually in Blickling Park on August Bank Holiday Monday and is one of the largest one-day shows in the country.
Interesting facts about Aylsham
- Aylsham once had two railway stations, Aylsham South Railway Station and Aylsham North Railway Station - both are now closed
- Once noted for its spa, half a mile south of Aylsham town, the chalybeate spring was used by those suffering from asthma and other chronic conditions
- Humphry Repton, (1752-1818) who was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, is buried in St Michael's churchyard in Aylsham
- Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), who was probably most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, stayed in Aylsham in 1732 and enjoyed a meal at the Black Boys Inn. Parson Woodforde, the famous Norfolk diarist, also dined there in 1781, and Horatio Nelson, whose cousin lived in Aylsham, is reported to have danced in the Assembly Room that was attached to the inn
- Clive Payne, a former professional footballer who played for Norwich City and Bournemouth was born in Aylsham
- Kathleen Starling (1890-1972) who became an opera singer under the name of Kathleen Destournel and sang at Covent Garden and entertained troops in North Africa during the Second World War was born in Aylsham. Kathleen moved to Arizona, USA but after her husband's death, returned to Aylsham to live with her sisters
Map of Aylsham
Attractions in Aylsham
Bure Valley Railway
Aylsham Station, Aylsham, Norfolk
This is Norfolk's longest narrow gauge heritage railway that meanders through 9 miles of beautiful Norfolk countryside. Situated between Aylsham and Wroxham, why not combine a steam train ride from Aylsham with a cruise on the Norfolk Broads, advanced bookings are required. Aylsham's Whistlestop Restaurant, railway workshop and souvenir shop are all worth a visit.