Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
Town of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
The town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire has very early origins; the first significant population dates back to the Bronze Age, and excavations have also revealed traces of an Iron Age hill fort. However, it was not until the arrival of the Anglo Saxons in 571 AD that Aylesbury was given its name (originally this was probably Aiglerburgh). The name itself has been spelt in numerous different ways over the years; in the 'History of Aylesbury' by Robert Gibbs a total of 57 variations are listed!
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The first market took place in the 13th Century and the marketplace, although now reduced in size, remains the focal point of the town to this day. During the Middle Ages Aylesbury also had two fairs each year, which were important events attracting people from all over Buckinghamshire to buy and sell their wares
The Aylesbury Duck
The Aylesbury Duck is thought to have evolved during the early years of the 18 Century, the result of selective breeding of the common duck. Breeders were aware that London dealers preferred white plumage, as the feathers were popular for quilt filling, and the pale pink skin of a plucked white bird was considered more attractive than the yellow skin of coloured ducks.
Historically Aylesbury Ducks were walked from the Vale of Aylesbury to London, a distance of some 40 miles.
Throughout the 19th Century the main market for duck meat was provided by the wealthy people of London, and by 1839 the ducks were transported by rail.
In 1873 the Pekin Duck was brought to Britain from China and the Aylesbury breed was frequently crossed with it. As a result, the pure breed began to disappear.
You can see the real Aylesbury duck today at Oak Farm Rare Breeds Park, Broughton near Aylesbury.
If you just want to look try the large duck pond in front of St Mary's Church in Haddenham, a large village in the southern tip of Aylesbury Vale.
Official Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire website: www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk