Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, England and administrative town of the Aylesbury Vale district in the outskirts of the London commuter belt. Its urban area includes Bierton, Fairford Leys, Stoke Mandeville and Watermead and had a population in 2010 of 70,273 whereas the town, a civil parish and town council had in 2011 a population of 58,740.
The town name is of Old English origin. Its first recorded name Æglesburgh is thought to mean "Fort of Aegel", though who Aegel 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 descendant of guillotined Marie-Antoinette, 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.
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. The 7 July 2005 Piccadilly Line bomber Germaine Lindsay's home was in Aylesbury at the time of the bombings, though he was originally from Jamaica.
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.