Until the 15th century, the linen and worsted industry was important here, and Aylsham webb or 'cloth of Aylsham' was supplied to the royal palaces of Edward II and III. Aylsham markets have always been an important feature of the town, and businesses have developed over the years to meet the needs of the town and the farming lands around it.
Aylsham has its own heritage centre in the grounds of St Michael’s Church. The centre reopens on the 1st March after a winter break with a brand new exhibition about St Michael’s Workhouse.
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 Daniel Defoe, Horatio Nelson and Princess Victoria. There are a couple of theories as to how the hotel acquired its name. Firstly it is suggested that it was named after King Charles II who was nicknamed The Black Boy because he had black hair and a swarthy complexion. Secondly, it may have a connection with the black boy slaves who were used as servants in local wealthy households in the 17th century.
As the terminus for the Bure Valley Railway (on the site of Aylsham South railway station), the Bure Valley Path and the Marriott's Way long distance footpath, the town is well visited by both holidaymakers and local people.
Well known for its twice-weekly market and its Monday auctions it is a popular town for people working in Norwich, but remains an active local business centre in its own right, particularly in the support of agriculture. Today the town has a population of about 5,500, several local industries and still serves the needs of a wide area with twice weekly markets and a farmers' market on the morning of the first and third Saturday of each month.
One of the longest established regional auctioneers in East Anglia is based here. Founded in 1953 Keys has developed into a major auction company, with a reputation which stretches far beyond its East Anglian origins offering weekly general sales and specialist collectable antiques, art, books and jewellery sales throughout the year.
In 2004 Aylsham became one of the founding towns, and the first in Norfolk, of the Cittaslow movement, an international organisation promoting the concept of 'Slow Towns' ("a Network of towns where Quality of Life is important"). This is a fast growing international network across 25 countries combating the growing globalisation of food and aiming to promote a quality lifestyle which encourages taking the time to enjoy our environment and grow, prepare and eat good quality produce.
In 2008 Aylsham also became Norfolk’s first plastic bag free town, a notable achievement by the town’s council and local traders who all signed up to the Aylsham plastic bag free campaign. The Aylsham show attracts around 16,000 visitors each year and along with the Aylsham food festival that celebrates local food and supports local producers annually, there’s plenty of reasons for this Cittaslow town to be pleased with itself.
We are proud to have such a variety of independent businesses in Aylsham as www.allthingsnorfolk.com business members from Carpet and Blinds specialist Concept Carpets and Electrical retailers JB Postle to Solicitors and Financial Advisors Hansell's and Garden and family owned garden centre Woodgate Nursery. To join them please click here