This page is about Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England. For other uses of the name see Aylesbury (disambiguation)
Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, in south central England, with a population in the 2001 census of 65,173. It is towards the outer edge of the London commuter belt.
The town name is Anglo-Saxon though excavations in the town centre in the early 1990s found a settlement dating from around 1500 BC. It is not known whether the hill on which the town centre is built is naturally occurring or man_made. Aylesbury was a major market town in Anglo_Saxon times, which was famous as the burial place of Saint Osyth. The Early English parish church of St. Mary (with many later additions) is built over remains of the Saxon crypt. At the Conquest, the king took the manor of Aylesbury for himself, and it is listed as a royal manor in the Domesday Book, 1086.
Church Street, Aylesbury. The premises of the Guild of Our Lady are on the left.
In 1450 a religious institution called the Guild of St Mary was founded in Aylesbury by John Kemp, Archbishop of York. Known popularly as the Guild of Our Lady it became a meeting place for local dignitaries and a hotbed of political intrigue. The Guild was influential in the final outcome of the Wars of the Roses. Its premises at the Chantry in Church Street, Aylesbury, are still there, though today it is occupied mainly by almshouses.
Aylesbury was declared the county town of Buckinghamshire in 1529 by King Henry VIII: Aylesbury Manor was among the many properties belonging to the father of the infamous Anne Boleyn and it is rumoured that the change was made by the king in order to curry favour with the manor. (Previously the county town of Buckinghamshire was Buckingham).
The town played a large part in the English Civil War when it became a stronghold for the Parliamentarian forces. This is due to its proximity to Great Hampden, home of John Hampden. Hampden is now considered a local hero to the town: his silhouette is on the emblem used by Aylesbury Vale District Council and his statue stands prominently in the town centre.
The Jacobean mansion of Hartwell nearby was the residence of Louis XVIII during his exile (1810 - 1814). The town also received international publicity in the 1960s when the culprits responsible for the Great Train Robbery were tried at Aylesbury Crown Court. The robbery took place at Bridego Bridge, a railway bridge at Ledburn, about six miles from the town.
The town's population has doubled since the 1960s due to new housing developments, and is now a highly prosperous town. Its heraldic crest is the Aylesbury duck, which has been bred here since the birth of the Industrial Revolution. A notable institution is Aylesbury Grammar School, which was founded in 1598; other notable buildings are the King's Head Inn, which with the Fleece Inn at Bretforton is one of the few public houses in the country owned by the National Trust still run as a public house, and the Queens Park Centre, the UK's largest independent arts centre.
St Mary's Church, Aylesbury
Aylesbury's population is soon to increase further during the years 2003 and 2005 due to the inclusion of a new housing estate designed to cater for 8000 people on the North side of Aylesbury sandwiched between the A41 (Akeman Street) and the A413.
Housing estates in the modern Aylesbury include: Bedgrove, Broughton, Elm Farm, Elmhurst, Fairford Leys, Meadowcroft, Prebendal Farm, Quarrendon, Southcourt, Stoke Grange, Walton Court and Watermead.
The local radio station is Mix 96.
In celebration of its commercial growth and prosperity Aylesbury hosts the large and prestigous - Aylesbury Business Enterprise Awards each year which draws in hundreds of notable local companies, celebrities and dignitaries (led each year by the Town's Mayor) to the Oscar style awards each year. Of foreign owned companies Siemens took the prize of 'The Company of the Year', three months later the company moved operations abroad, while the leading locally owned company in 'The Company of the Year' category was Adstock Web and Software Services (http://www.adstockweb.co.uk) in 2004.
Trade and industry
Traditionally the town was a commercial centre with a market dating back to the Saxon period. This is because it was established on the main Akeman Street which became an established trade route linking London to the south west. In 1180 a gaol was established in the town (it is still there though has moved locations two or three times) which only really happened in main towns across the country.
By 1477 flour was being ground in the town for surrounding parishes. By the modern period this had grown into a huge established industry: the last mill in Aylesbury was closed in the 1970s. By 1560 the manufacture of needles had become a huge industry in Aylesbury, and was the only place in the country where needles were made.
In 1672 poor children in Buckinghamshire were taught to make lace as a way to make a living. Bucks lace as it became known quickly became very sought after and production boomed as the lace was mainly made by poor women and children. The lace-making industry had died out by Victorian times, however, as new machine-made lace became preferable.
In 1764 Euclid Neale opened his clockmaking workshop in Aylesbury. In the 18th century he was one of the best clock makers in the country.
In 1814 the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union Canal was opened bringing major industry to the town for the first time.
The railway came to Aylesbury in 1839 when the Aylesbury Railway opened from Cheddington on Robert Stephenson's London and Birmingham Railway. The Wycombe Railway arrived via Princes Risborough on 1st October 1863, and on 23rd September 1868 the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway was opened from Verney Junction, to make an end_on junction with the Wycombe Railway. The Metropolitan Railway from Baker Street arrived via Amersham in 1892. The Aylesbury Railway closed in 1953, and there are now no regular passenger services north of Aylesbury. The other lines from London remain in service and are heavily used.
By the late 19th century the printers and bookbinders Hazell, Watson and Viney and the Nestlé dairy were the two main employers in the town, employing more than half the total population.
Today the town is still a major commercial centre and the market still meets on the cobbles of the old Market Square four days a week. Nestle and Hazell, Watson and Viney have both gone, though three major industrial centres make sure the town has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
Aylesbury is located at 51°50'00" North, 00°50'00" West (51.8333, -0.8333)1.
- Aylesbury Vale District Council's website (http://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/)