East Anglia Map Ref: C4
Market Days: Tuesday & Saturday
The prosperity of this, the 'capital' of East Anglia in Iceni & Early Saxon times waned when the Normans moved their 'capital' to Norwich. Despite the massive expansion after the 2nd World War when Thetford became an overspill town for London, the centre of the town has retained it's 'market town' character.|
One of your first visits must be to the Ancient House Museum in White Hart Street. There have been remarkable finds from the Iceni, Saxon and Roman periods in the area. Here they are displayed along with the story of Breckland man. You will also find the connection between Thetford and an Indian Prince.
Thomas Paine was born in the town in 1737. A radical, he upset many in the London establishment before a meeting with Benjamin Franklin led to his going to America in 1774. There he joined the campaign for independence and coined the phrase 'The United States of America' and many of his ideas were incorporated in the Declaration of Independence.
His statue stands in front of Kings House. Rebuilt in the reign of Elizabeth I, it was a popular residence of James I who came to Thetford to hunt. It's now the council offices.
On the edge of town are the ruins of the Priory, founded in 1104 by Sir Roger Bigod, which was once the third largest in Norfolk. Unfortunately, like many priories, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the buildings fell into ruin and much of the facing stone was later used in buildings in the town.
Other points of interest:
The Bell Hotel. Much of this is Elizabethan and was an important hostelry in the days of the stage coach.
Charles Burrell Museum. Burrells made steam traction engines and agricultural machinery from 1770 until it's closure in 1932. The museum has been set up in the former paint shop.
The massive earthworks known as Castle Hill goes back to the Iceni times.
Many of the streets off the town centre have interesting old houses, and there are walks by the river.
Thetford Forest. There are several walks in the area.
Thetford Web Links:
7th Armoured Division Memorial
Thetford Forest Archaeology
Tourist Information Centre:
Leaflets are available at St Peters Church, White Hart Street.
For general tourist enquiries, please call Breckland Council
Tourism Department (9.30 - 3.30) on 01362 656235
Copyright © Ken Ward 2004
Photographs Copyright © Ken Ward 2004 (unless otherwise stated)
Last Updated: 13 December 2005
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