Aylsham, Norfolk

Historical Description

Aylsham, a market and union town and a parish in Norfolk. The town stands on the river Bure, amid one of the most pleasant tracts in the county, 12 miles N by W of Norwich. It has a station on the G.E.R., and another on the E. & M.R., a post and telegraph office under Norwich, a banking office, a police station, and a town hall; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; and conducts some commerce by barges on the Bure. A manufacture of linen, known as Aylsham web, was carried on in the times of Edward II. and Edward III., and a manufacture of woollen fabrics sprang up at a later period, but both have disappeared. The chief employments now are in the corn-trade, the timber-trade, and country business. Fairs are held yearly on 23 March and the last Tuesday of Sept. The parish church is Decorated English, said to have been built by John of Gaunt; consists of nave, chancel, and transept, with a square tower and spire; and contains the remains of an ancient rood-screen, a carved font, and numerous brasses. The churchyard contains the grave of Humphrey Repton. the landscape gardener,who died in 1818. There are also Baptist, Primitive Methodist, Reformed Wesleyan, and Wesleyan chapels. The interesting seat of Blickling Hall is in the vicinity, within the contiguous parish of Blickling.

The parish comprises 4330 acres; population, 2533. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Norwich; net value, £218 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


The Cemetery, of two acres, formed in 1855 at a cost of £600, was enlarged in 1900 by the addition of 1½ acres.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1653.


Church of England

St. Michael (parish church)

The church of St. Michael is a building of flint in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, and was erected c. 1380 by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the court of whose duchy was once held in this town; it consists of chancel with aisles and vestry, clerestoried nave of six bays, aisles, transepts, south porch, with parvise, and an embattled western tower with crocketed pinnacles and a small spire, and containing a clock and 10 bells, re-hung, and the belfry repaired, in 1890, at a cost of £285: the chancel retains three sedilia and a double piscina, and there are also piscinæ in the south aisle and the south transept: the font is enriched with bas-reliefs of the emblems of the four Evangelists, the instruments of the Passion, and the arms of the Duke of Lancaster, with other armorial insignia: of the rood screen. erected in 1507, principally at the cost of Thomas Wymer, worsted weaver, only the lower part now remains, and is adorned with painted figures of apostles and martyrs, and has an inscription in Latin to Thomas Wymer and Joan and Agnes his wives: the remains of the former arcading of the screen are now incorporated in the reredos, constructed out of carved wood from various parts of the church: the tomb of Wymer, with brass effigy in shroud, and the date 1507, is in the church: here is also a brass, with effigies as skeletons in shrouds, to Richard Howard, citizen and sheriff of Norwich, who, in 1488, built the church porch, and died 13 Jan. 1499, and to Cecilia, his wife: there are other brasses to Thomas Tylson B.A. rector, c. 1490, with effigy in almuce and scrolls; and to Robert Farman and Katherine, his wife, c. 1490, and there are effigies of a man and his wife much worn: the church also contains monuments to the families of Jermy, Drake, Wrench, Norgate and Rushburgh, and there is a monument, somewhat mutilated, of John Jegon S.T.P. Bishop of Norwich from 1602, who died 13 March, 1617: the east window, the tracery of which has been restored, is decorated with stained glass, placed in 1842-3, and representing apostles, with various devices, and the armorial bearings of the Hobarbs, Earls of Buckinghamshire, those of the See of Norwich, impaling Stanley, the duchy of Lancaster, and others: there is another stained window to eight former vicars, and one containing some beautiful specimens of old glass, inserted at the expense of the late Rev. E. T. Yates, a former vicar, together with the armorial bearings of his family, and of S. Pitman esq. then lay impropriatar of the parish, and the Dowager Lady Suffield; the old organ was presented by the Rev. E. T. Yates, who also contributed to the restoration of the church in 1852: but a new organ was provided in 1911 at a cost of £700: the pulpit dates from about 1600: the eagle lectern is modern: there were once several chantries in this church, one of which was founded 8 July. 1534, by Robert Jannys, who also founded the Free School: the Communion plate includes a chalice and paten of 1567, besides other pieces of later date: in a recess in the churchyard is the grave of Humphrey Repton, the celebrated landscape gardener, who died 24 March, 1818: there are 850 sittings.


Baptist Chapel, White Hart Street

The Baptist chapel is in White Hart street; it was founded in 1791, and has sittings for 450 persons.

Gospel Hall, Cawston Road

No information available


Primitive Methodist Chapel, Cawston Road

No information available

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, White Hart Street

No information available

Roman Catholic

Catholic church, White Hart Street

No information available

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.


Old maps of Aylsham are available on the old-maps.co.uk site, and a current map is available on the Streetmap.co.uk site.

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Norfolk 1563, 1589, and 1613 is available on the Heraldry page.