Aylesbury became the county town of Buckinghamshire, following a major fire which destroyed the original county town of Buckingham in 1725.
Aylesbury Town Square © TAB
Aylesbury has given its name to the surrounding vale, watered by the River Thames and one of the richest dairy-farming regions in England. The Vale of Aylesbury, beneath the Chilterns, has many unspoiled villages with thatched cottages and tracts of woodland where snowdrops, primroses and bluebells bloom in spring. The abundance of lakes, ponds and waterways in the Vale nourished the development of the once local specialty, the white feathered Aylesbury Duck, valued by chefs and gastronomes for its rich succulent flavour.
Most of Aylesbury's older buildings are situated near its Market Square, although many have been lost to modern buildings. The market, now designated as a conservation area, is a broad cobbled and paved expanse with a Victorian Gothic clock tower in the centre. This area contains a number of statues and sculptures. One such bronze statue commemorates a local man, John Hampden (1594-1643), who played a key part in the events leading up to the Civil War. Nearby is a statue of Lord Beaconsfield (Sir Benjamin Disraeli).
Aylesbury has several ancient inns, among them the 14th century King's Head, which is now owned by the National Trust. The red-brick County Hall, at one end of the Market Square (built circa 1720) contains the Assize courtroom and County Council chamber. It was in the Crown Court that 'Hanging' Judge Jeffries once adjudicated. Criminals sentenced to be hanged were publicly executed on a gallows mounted on a first floor balcony. Ideally located so that crowds in the square could witness justice being carried out. The 17th and 15th century buildings in Church Street, including the old grammar school (opened in 1720), which now form part of the County Museum.
Tourist Information Centre:
|Kings Head Passage, off Market Square, HP20 2RW - Tel: 01296 330559|
The King's Head is a 14th century old timber frame coaching inn with a large stable yard and medieval gateway. A wooden-framed window in the lounge bar contains 20 panes of 15th century stained glass. Inside is a chair reputedly used by Oliver Cromwell when he stayed there in 1651, following his victory at the Battle of Worcester. Visitors can enjoy a pint of real ale or browse for gifts in the Tourist Information Centre shop.
Opening times: 10:30am - 4pm.
Run by the National
Location: Top of Market Square, centre of Aylesbury, HP20 1TA
The museum contains a gallery devoted to Buckinghamshire rural life, with displays of old costumes and local county heritage, plus a regional art gallery.
The Roald Dahl section is very entertaining for young children, with hands-on fun and activities.
Open: March to October, Mon-Sat
10am-5pm, Sun 2pm-5pm
Admission Charge for Roald Dahl Gallery
Note: Opening times for the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery vary, please call or see attraction website.
Location: Church St, Aylesbury, HP20 2QP - Tel: 01296 331441
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