Dominated by the grey concrete monolith of County Hall, Aylesbury town centre is not immediately appealing. But there is another side of Aylesbury to explore. Just a few streets away from the bustle of Friar’s Square and the modern shopping complexes, the Church of St Mary the Virgin is surrounded by cobbled streets and picturesque old cottages, a former workhouse and almshouses.
Inside the church, late on a Sunday morning after the worshippers have left, the scent of incense lingers. Beneath the great west window, bright with Victorian stained glass bible scenes, is a twelfth-century font. In the north transept is an alabaster monument to Lady Lee (d.1584) wife of Sir Henry Lee of Quarrendon and her three children. Just around the corner lies an unidentified fourteenth century tomb effigy. Close to the church is Prebendal House, once the home of John Wilkes, the radical eighteenth-century MP for Aylesbury. Back in Friar’s Square, an unassuming archway leads to the King’s Head pub, a historic coaching inn established in 1455 and now owned by the National Trust and run by Chiltern Brewery. On Sundays you can enjoy a traditional roast in the oak-panelled dining room.
A short walk through Friar’s Square past Old County Hall and the Judge’s Lodgings brings you to Exchange Street and the Waterside Theatre. From the canal basin at the rear of the theatre the Little Trip Boat offers a relaxing post-prandial cruise along the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal.
Travel doesn’t come much slower than that.