Aylsham, which is an attractive market town, lies approximately
half way between Norwich and
Cromer. It retains considerable
character including a number of eighteenth-century brick
buildings. Originally the
River Bure was navigable as far as Aylsham - with a
dock on Banningham Road.
Aylsham town sign features
John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399),
who was an absentee Lord of the Manor in the town and
may have founded St. Michael's Church.
Aylsham Town Sign
John of Gaunt appears in
Shakespeare's play Richard II and his death-bed
soliloquy is one of the most famous in English theatre.
Here is a passage:
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden - demi-paradise -
This fortress built by nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house
Both Daniel Defoe and Parson Woodforde (see
Weston Longville) dined at the
Black Boys Inn in Aylsham - in 1732 and 1781 respectively.
A plaque on the front wall of the pub also proudly
proclaims that Lord Nelson attended a dance here on 15th
Black Boys Inn
In 1902 the Edwardian diarist A.C. Benson visited the
town and had this to say:
'Alysham is a very pleasant little town of warm
red-brick houses, with rather a foreign look. It looks
clean, wholesome and comfortable. There are many houses
which I wish to inhabit, of course. We walked about a
little. The Rectory lies at the further end of the town,
in a nice glebe and garden under the church. A good
house and well kept. Nice shrubs and trees and flowers.
There is a fine dining-room with white pillars and it is
altogether a good substantial house. The Church is long
and low, a large grey flint building, low-pitched roof -
transepts and aisles, with a very fine tower.'
Humphry Repton, the landscape gardener, who designed Old
Catton, Blickling, Gunton and Sheringham park is buried in Aylsham churchyard. He composed his own (rather
'Not like Egyptian tyrants consecrate,
Unmixed with others shall my dust remain;
But mold'ring, blending, melting into earth
Mine shall give form and colour to the Rose,
And while its vivid blossoms cheer Mankind,
Its perfumed odours shall ascend to Heaven.'
Grave of Humphry Repton
Aylsham is also home to the poet and editor Michael
Mackmin. In 1984 he established The Rialto with
John Wakeman and the magazine has become one of the most
highly respected poetry journals ever since -
attracting submissions from around the world.
Michael's most recent collection of
poems is entitled Twenty-Three Poems and was
published in 2006 by Happenstance Press. A number of
poems feature Norfolk locations including:
and Tom Grix is
Dead. Michael works as a Gestalt
therapist and is a keen ornithologist.