At the northern terminus of the Bure Valley Railway, Aylsham sits beside the river Bure, one of the busiest rivers in the Norfolk broads. Nestling in the Bure meadows is the National Trusts’ Bickling Estate, the birth place of Anne Boleyn. The Gallery Library in the Jacobean mansion contains the National Trusts’ most precious collection of books.
The railway is Norfolk’s longest narrow guage railway and runs to Wroxham, which takes 45 minutes. Those who prefer can cycle or walk some of the route along the Bure Valley walking and cycle footpath.
John of Gaunt and Aylsham Church
The medieval magnifico, John of Gaunt, father of king Henry IV, inherited the Manor of Aylsham in 1372. He paid for the building of St Michael an All Angels, on the site of an earlier smaller church. The church has a tower with a bell and clock chamber. The transepts and aisles were added over the next century. A piscina in the south transept has Tudor Rose embelishments. The window in the north transept shows the red rose of Lancaster and the arms of John of Gaunt.
Henry Repton, landscape designer, died in 1818 and lies in Aylsham churchyard near the Chancel door. There is a window, installed in 1837, in his memory. Repton and his son together designed both the house and garden at Sheringham Park which is now in the care of the National Trust.
Repton’s work can also be seen nearby at Fellbrigg Hall where he created a lake from three smaller lakes. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/felbrigg-hall-gardens-and-estate/features/the-estate-at-felbrigg-hall
He set out his approach to landscape gardening in his book Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Students of design can still appreciate Repton’s ‘before and after’ sketches of his projects.
Time for tea
There’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from in an area noted for its excellent, local, seasonal produce. The town celebrates slow food, so take your time and enjoy it.