Aylsham is a pleasant Norfolk market town with approximately six thousand inhabitants beside the river Bure valley, situated on the A140 between the city of Norwich and the picturesque North Norfolk coast.
Probably named in Saxon times Aegel's Ham, mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Elesham, it was Crown property after the Conquest. It was eventually passed to the Earl of Buckinghamshire who owned the Blickling estate, now acquired by the National Trust.
Centred on the old market square, it is overlooked by the 13th century St. Michael's church, reputedly built by John O'Gaunt. The town sign bears his image. Humphrey Repton, the landscape gardener, is buried in the churchyard.
Monday is the traditional market day, no longer agricultural, but still a busy day in town.
Nowadays, during the week there are art and antique sales attracting buyers from afar and on the first and third Saturday of the month, a Farmers' Market now sells fresh, local produce.
The narrow streets of Aylsham are lined with independent shops selling a variety of goods, and these have helped to achieve its Cittaslow status, helping to preserve the quality of life of which Aylsham is so proud.
Nearby is the beautiful Blickling Hall with its history, lake, park and walks, all part of the vast heritage now supported by the National Trust, open to historians and ramblers alike. Ramblers can also enjoy the long distance footpaths, Marriot's Way and Weavers Way, which pass through the town, in part using the old railway lines which used to criss-cross Norfolk's countryside.
The Bure Valley Railway uses the site of the old Aylsham South station which has been rebuilt to accommodate the new format. Now with a 15-inch gauge track, this mainly steam line passes some truly picturesque scenery on its way to the Broads town of Wroxham, through the Bure valley.
All in all, a very pleasant town. That old Saxon farmer, Aegel, would have been very pleased.