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Aylesbury

Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, in south central England, with a population of around 61,000.

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.

In 1450 a religious institution called the Guild of St Mary was founded in Aylesbury by Chancellor Cardinal Kemp and the 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. It's 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: the Lord of Aylesbury Manor was 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.

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 a railway bridge in Cheddington[?], 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 medieval period. A notable institution is the Grammar School, which was founded in 1598.

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.

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. By the late 19th Century the printers and bookbinders Hazell, Watson and Viney and the Nestle dairy were the two main employers in the town, employing more than half the total population.

Today the town is still a major commerical 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.

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