Visiting the Town Hall at Market Place, Aylsham, Norfolk, England: former corn hall dating from c. 1857
Hub of a relatively quiet town
Not unexpectedly in the Market Place, at Aylsham, Norfolk, England, (which has been a venue for the town's market for centuries) commerce has historically driven the built environment.The Town Hall dates from 1857. Norfolk has traditionally been a strongly agricultural county. Interestingly, the building which now houses the Town Hall started its existence in circa 1857 as a corn hall.
Features of the Town Hall include a conspicuous entrance-way pediment, with inset door pillars. Formerly the building possessed a glass skylight roof and a large turret, but the roof has long been completely tiled over; a smaller turret has replaced the large, former glass one.
The Market Square contains a number of 18th and 19th century commercial properties — several of them in red brick — forming a one-time commercial hub.
But one may also ask: haven't shoppers changed? businesses in the Downtown area of Aylsham have found it difficult to remain profitable, as shoppers, with easier money in their pockets — and on their plastic cards — have preferred to shop in edge of town supermarkets, with their spacious parking lots (parking is an issue in the Market Place at Aylsham). The fact is that, nowadays, on some days, even during normal business hours, the Market Place at Aylsham is comparatively deserted. A sign indeed that England, once referred to as both 'a nation of shopkeepers' and 'the workshop of the world', has undergone a lot of changes. Historically a significant town, once busy commercially, Aylsham is now by most standards a relatively quiet town.
The historical figure, John of Gaunt (1340-1399) was Lord of the Manor of Aylsham from 1372.
Canadians will note that Alysham, Saskatchewan, has at times maintained a twinning arrangement with Alysham, Norfolk.
November 26, 2012
Also worth seeing
In Aylsham itself, St Michael's church (in full, St Michael and All Angels) is a large, partly Medieval, flint-stone structure containing the grave of landscape gardener Humphrey Repton.
Blickling Hall , Blickling (distance: 2.6 kilometres), stately home which is sometimes claimed to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn — one of King Henry VIII's ill-fated Queens consort — is situated close to Aylsham.
How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Aylsham is 241 kilometers from Heathrow Airport. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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