Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, England and, since 1974, the administrative town of the Aylesbury Vale District on the outskirts of the London commuter belt. Its urban area includes the historic parishes of Bierton and Stoke Mandeville. Fairford Leys and Watermead are residential areas developed since the 1970s. In 2011 the town, a civil parish, had a population of 58,740.(Office of National Statistics) while the population of the whole of Aylesbury Vale was 174,137.
Prior to 1974 Aylesbury was a Municipal Borough (1917-1974) and before that an Urban District (1894-1917). During the 1900s it was an urban sanitary district and the principal part of the Aylesbury Poor Law Union.
The town name is of Old English origin. Its first recorded name Æglesburgh is thought to mean "Fort of Ægel", though who Ægel was is not recorded. Since earliest records there have been 57 variations of the name.
Excavations in the town centre in 1985 found an Iron Age hillfort dating from the early 4th century BC. Aylesbury was one of the strongholds of the ancient Britons, from whom it was taken in the year 571 by Cutwulph, brother of Ceawlin, King of the West Saxons; and had a fortress or castle "of some importance, from which circumstance probably it derives its Saxon appellation".
Aylesbury was a major market town in Anglo-Saxon times, the burial place of Saint Osyth, whose shrine attracted pilgrims. The Early English parish church of St. Mary (which has many later additions) has a crypt beneath. Once thought to be Anglo-Saxon, it is now recognised as being of the same period as the medieval chapel above. At the Norman Conquest, the king took the manor of Aylesbury for himself, and it is listed as a royal manor in the Domesday Book, 1086. Some lands here were granted by William the Conqueror to citizens upon the extraordinary tenure that the owners should provide straw for the monarch's bed, sweet herbs for his chamber, and two green geese and three eels for his table, whenever he should visit Aylesbury.
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 the site is occupied mainly by almshouses.
Aylesbury was declared the new county town of Buckinghamshire in 1529 by King Henry VIII: Aylesbury Manor was among the many properties belonging to Thomas Boleyn, the father of Anne Boleyn, and it is rumoured that the change was made by the King to curry favour with the family.
The grade II* listed Jacobean mansion of Hartwell adjoining the southwest of the town was the residence of Louis XVIII during his exile (1810–1814). Bourbon Street in Aylesbury is named after the king. Louis's wife, Marie Josephine of Savoy died at Hartwell in 1810 and is buried in the churchyard there, the only French Queen to be buried on English soil.
Aylebury's heraldic crest is centred on the Aylesbury duck, which has been bred here since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, although only one breeder, Richard Waller, of true Aylesbury ducks remains today.
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 (10 km) from the town.
James Henry Govier the British painter and etcher lived at Aylesbury and produced a number of works relating to the town including the church, canal, Walton, Aylesbury Gaol, the King's Head and views of the town during the 1940s and 1950s, examples of which can be seen in the Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury.
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 southwest. In 1180 a gaol was established in the town Aylesbury .
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 1990s (Hills & Partridge on the canal behind Tesco). By 1560 the manufacture of needles had become a large industry in Long Crendon a village close-by which was an important production centre.
17th century - lace making
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.
19th century - canals
In 1814, the Aylesbury arm of the Grand Union Canal from Marsworth was opened bringing major industry to the town for the first time. At the same time the Wendover arm was built leading to nearby Wendover.
20th century - motor manufacture
From 1919 until 1925 the Cubit Engineering Works on the Bicester Road was a volume manufacturer of motor vehicles. Approximately 3,000 cars were built, but a somewhat slow and heavy design could not survive the onslaught from cheap American competition. The works have been demolished for a domestic housing development. The marque is commemorated by 'Cubitt Street' (and Edge Street) which traverses the old works
By the late 20th 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. These factories have long since been demolished and replaced by a Tesco supermarket which opened in 1994, and a housing development, respectively.
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 and US automotive parts producer TRW have gone — the last left the town in 2006. However three major industrial and commercial centres make sure the town has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
A controversial, £150 million Arla Foods 'megadairy' opened just off the A41 in nearby Aston Clinton in November 2013, roughly 3½ miles from the town centre, which is now a major employer in the area, despite fears that lorries travelling to and from the dairy would cause delays and pollution in the town centre, so a new set of traffic lights were installed on the junction of the A41 with Bedgrove and Brougton Avenue, replacing he existing double mini roundabout, and a zebra crossing was replaced by a pelican crossing further down the A41 Tring road, paid for by Arla in an attempt to reduce congestion and thus to combat fears over traffic.
Birth, marriage and death certificates can now be ordered online from Buckinghamshire County Council. The full postal address is Buckinghamshire Register Office, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1YU.
The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UU) holds
In Buckinghamshire, as with other counties in England and Wales, the location of offices where Births, Marriages and Deaths were registered has altered with other changes in local government. A list of the location of Registration Offices since civil registration began in 1837 has been prepared by GENUKI (Genealogy: United Kingdom and Ireland). The table also gives details of when each Registration Office was in existence. In the case of Buckinghamshire, the same registration offices were used for the censuses since 1851.
Nineteenth Century Local Administration
English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.
During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.
Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.
Online Historical References