Aylsham's market place, surrounded by 18th century houses, reflects the town’s prosperity from the cloth trade from that era. The town was famous for its linen and textiles in the 1300s before it went on to become a major wool and textile producing area. Today, the picturesque market place holds markets on Mondays and Fridays and there are plenty of shops, pubs and tea-rooms.
Aylsham is the northern terminus of the Bure Valley Railway, a narrow-gauge steam railway which takes you through the countryside to Wroxham, 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.
The station also marks the start of the Bure Valley Walk, a walking and cycling route alongside the railway line.
While Aylsham nestles quietly in the Norfolk countryside it is located close to the cathedral city of Norwich, the famous Norfolk Broads and the beautiful North Norfolk coast. Aylsham is a Norfolk market town with a difference; it is one of only five UK Cittaslow towns. The very core of Cittaslow is about quality of living and bringing the community together for the common good. Before any town is awarded Cittaslow status they must meet a number of criteria from a set list. While this Cittaslow status represents a real symbol of the quality of life in Aylsham, it will always take pride in its Norfolk market town roots while fully embracing the Cittaslow ethos.
The real charm of Aylsham is in its beautiful architecture, strong sense of heritage, bustling town centre and real community ethos. Aylsham thinks of itself as Norfolk’s proper market town. The market place, which is owned by the National Trust, is the heart of this Norfolk market town. It hosts two weekly markets, monthly farmer’s markets and a host of community events throughout the year.
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.
- 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.
- 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 www.blackboyshotel.co.uk (well it’s still there at the moment – just wait until the BLM mob find it!)
- 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
- Kathleen Starling (1890-1972) who became an opera singer under the name of Kathleen Destournel and sang at Covent Garden, London 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
Nearby National Trust’s Blickling Hall is a magnificent Jacobean house, with stunning gardens, home to the Boleyn family from 1499 - 1505. It is believed that Anne Boleyn’s ghost still roams the hall. The landscape, with its hedges and narrow tree-lined lanes, has changed little over the centuries and is quintessentially Norfolk. In the grounds stands the beautiful 14th century church of St. Michael and All Angels. The Hall's grounds are surrounded by countryside, perfect for exploring. The Weavers Way Trail, from Aylsham to North Walsham, follows a disused railway line and is a great off-road route for walking, cycling and horse riding.