Thetford is a market town and civil parish in the
of Norfolk, England. It is on the A11 road between
Norwich and London,
just south of
Thetford Forest. After
World War II
World War II
Thetford became an
‘overspill town’ taking people from London, as a result of which
its population increased substantially. The civil parish, covering
an area of 29.55 km2 (11.41 sq mi), has a population of
2 Events and sports
7 Dad's Army
8 Twin towns
9 See also
11 External links
The Iceni were a Celtic tribe living in
Norfolk and parts of
Cambridgeshire. Archaeological evidence suggests that
Thetford was an
important tribal centre during the late Iron Age and early Roman
period. A ceremonial 'grove' was uncovered there during excavations.
In 1979, a hoard of Romano-British metalwork, known as the Thetford
treasure was located just outside Thetford. Dating from the mid-4th
century AD, this hoard is a collection of thirty three inscribed
spoons, twenty gold finger rings, four pendants, several necklaces and
a 2" gold buckle depicting a dancing satyr. They are currently on
display and under curation at the British Museum.
Thetford, an important crossing of the River Little Ouse, draws its
name from the Anglo-Saxon Theodford or peoples ford. The nearby River
Thet was later named after the town.
On 20 November 869,
Edmund the Martyr
Edmund the Martyr – the last native King of the
East Angles – was killed in East Anglia by Vikings. For a time
Edmund was England’s patron saint.
Statue of Thomas Paine
Domesday Book lists William of Bello Fargo as the Bishop of
Thetford in 1085.
Castle Hill, to the south-east of the town centre, is a Norman motte
though no trace remains of the castle which once surmounted it. The
mound (motte) is open to the public, and provides excellent views of
the town from its summit and extensive earthworks. It is in a public
park, near the Three Nuns Bridges and close to the town centre
overlooking the rivers.
Thetford also contains the ruins of a 12th-century
Thetford Priory, open to the public, was closed during the
Reformation. Both the Priory and the Bell Inn, also in Thetford, were
featured for their alleged hauntings on the television series
Ghosthunters. The Black Horse public house dates from the mid 18th
century, and is grade II listed.
Assizes were held at
Thetford from 1264 because there
was only one Assize for both
Norfolk and Suffolk. Thetford, being
close to the border between the two, was convenient for both. However,
after much pressure, an Act of Parliament was passed in 1832 to
transfer them to Norwich. There had been pressure to do so for many
years. In 1825 an MP, Mr John Buxton, told the House of Commons that
prisoners had to be carried the 30 miles from
Norwich Gaol in an open
waggon and, on arrival at Thetford, were placed in a prison, which,
"if he were to describe it, would shock and offend the
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of
Norfolk and other early Tudor dynasty
officials were once buried in
Thetford before removal to Framlingham.
The Duke of
Norfolk died on 21 May 1524. His funeral and burial on 22
Thetford Priory were said to have been 'spectacular and
enormously expensive, costing over £1300 and including a procession
of 400 hooded men bearing torches and an elaborate bier surmounted
with 100 wax effigies and 700 candles', befitting the richest and most
powerful peer in England. After the dissolution of
the Howard tombs were moved to the Church of St Michael the Archangel,
Thetford was the birthplace of
Thomas Paine and his statue stands on
King Street, holding a quill and his book Rights of Man, upside down.
Thetford Grammar School. Born in
Thetford on 9 February
1737, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 where
he was to participate in the American Revolution. His principal
contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet
Common Sense 
(1776), advocating colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of
Great Britain, and
The American Crisis
The American Crisis  (1776–1783), a
pro-revolutionary pamphlet series.
Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns, born in Inagua, the Bahamas, Mayor of
Thetford in 1904, was the first black man to become a mayor in
Britain. His son Allan Noel Minns, also a doctor, was awarded the
DSO and MC in the First World War.
From the 1950s
Thetford became a
London overspill town. In 1953 the
Thetford Borough Council approached the
London County Council to
become part of the town's expansion scheme. An agreement was signed in
1957 and work began on new housing estates to accommodate 5,000
Londoners. In 1960 another 5,000 Londoners moved to Thetford
increasing the population to about 17,000 people. An additional 1,500
houses were built by 1965. Development then shifted to the Abbey Farm
estate to the north of the river, construction of which started in
1967, with 1,000 houses, public open spaces and footpaths. By the late
1980s the population of
Thetford had reached around 21,000 people,
this enormous increase in population meant that
Thetford grew faster
than any other town in Norfolk, and indeed in the whole country.
British Trust for Ornithology
British Trust for Ornithology moved its headquarters into the
former Nunnery, south of the town centre, in 1991.
The Ancient House Museum, situated on White Hart Street, is an
oak-framed Tudor merchant's house. The museum holds replicas of the
Thetford Treasure and has displays about flint knapping, rabbit
warreners and wildlife in the brecks. You can also find out more about
Thomas Paine and the Maharajah Duleep Singh. The Ancient House was
gifted to the town by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh.
Breckland has been largely replaced by the Thetford
Thetford Chase remains.
Events and sports
East Harling near
Thetford hosts an annual
Autumn Equinox Festival for
astronomy. The town is also the site for the UK's Star Party, as it is
centrally located in a rural area with dark night skies. An annual
concert, STORM open air festival used to take place at the Castle
The local football club,
Thetford Town F.C., plays in the Eastern
Counties Football League. The
Breckland & District Sunday Football
League, encompasses teams from within a 20-mile (30 km) radius of
Thetford Cricket Club play their home games next to the
football club on
Mundford Road. They currently have 3 men's teams, 2
that play on Saturdays and 1 on Sundays. The club are represented in
Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division 3 and Division 6 and the
Norfolk Sunday Cricket League Division 3. In summer, Castle Park
is the Sunday meeting place of the non-professional and informal
Castle Park Football Green.
Thetford Rugby Union Football Club is based at two mile bottom on the
Mundford road just outside Thetford. The club has two teams, the first
team plays in the Greene King IPA
Eastern Counties 1
Eastern Counties 1 and the second
team plays in the Woodlands
Norfolk Merit League 3, with both teams
playing on Saturdays.
A swimming team called the
Thetford Dolphins is based at Breckland
Leisure Centre's Waterworld swimming pools. World champion triathlete
Chrissie Wellington is a former member of this swimming club.
High Lodge Forest Centre in
Thetford Forest attracts thousands of
visitors every year. Events are held throughout the year including
summer concerts and the Hallowe'en 'terror trail'.
Thetford railway station
Thetford is just off the A11 road between
Norwich (28 miles
(45 km)) and
London (86 miles (138 km)). The A11 previously
ran through the town but a bypass was constructed in the 1990s.
In December 2014, a £102 million project to dual the A11 between
Thetford and the Five Ways roundabout at Mildenhall was completed,
meaning that the entire A11 is now dual carriageway from
Thetford, and beyond to Norwich.
It is served by
Thetford railway station, with Abellio Greater Anglia
running services between
Norwich and Cambridge, and East Midlands
Norwich to Liverpool Lime Street (via Nottingham,
Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly). From Cambridge, regular services
London King's Cross.
A branch line to Bury St Edmunds was closed in the 1950s, well before
Dr. Beeching. The remnants of
Thetford Bridge railway station on the
southern side of the town can still be seen.
Thetford stands on
River Little Ouse
River Little Ouse which flows westward and is a
tributary of the River Great Ouse, The Great Ouse finds its way to the
King's Lynn and The Wash. In its time, the Little Ouse has
been navigable as far as here, though nowadays the head of navigation
Santon Downham bridge, 6 miles downstream.
National Cycle Route 13 links
Thetford to Gateley, near Fakenham.
Thetford was home to Tulip International, large-scale manufacturers of
bacon, beef and pork. The factory opened its doors in 1966 and was one
of the biggest bacon production factories in the UK. In 2007 the
factory ceased production of fresh bacon, beef and pork with the loss
of 350 jobs, although cooked bacon and fried products continued to be
made until all production ceased in February 2009. In February
2012 an application was submitted to
Breckland District Council for
the redevelopment of the former Tulip factory to provide a new 56,000
sq ft foodstore.
According to the 2001 UK Census, almost 22,000 people were residing in
Thetford has a temperate marine climate, like much of the British
Isles, with generally light precipitation throughout the year. The
Breckland area is differentiated from much of Eastern
England due to the presence of sandy soils. This results in average
minimum temperatures typically being around 1 degree lower than in
surrounding areas, and on cold clear nights up to 5 to 10 Celsius
lower. The nearest Met Office weather station is at
Santon Downham 4 miles (6 km) to the NW
Statue of Captain Mainwaring, Arthur Lowe's Dad’s Army character in
The external scenes for the BBC1 TV series
Dad's Army were filmed in
and around the town with Thetford's flint buildings doubling for
Dad's Army Museum is located in the town's
Guildhall building. In December 2007 it was announced that a statue of
Arthur Lowe who played the leading character
Captain Mainwaring would
be erected in the town. The statue, depicting Captain
Mainwaring sitting on a park bench, was unveiled next to the Little
Ouse river on 19 June 2010. This was preceded by a stage show
Dad's Army episodes which was shown over the
course of several nights, including The Godiva Affair.
Jones' van which was used in the series is displayed at the nearby
Charles Burrell Museum.
Thetford is twinned with the towns of:
Hürth, near Cologne, Germany
Skawina, near Kraków, Poland
Nissewaard, near Rotterdam, Netherlands
Les Ulis, near Paris, France
Thetford Academy, Norfolk
^ Dickinson, G. C. (April 1962). "Overspill and Town Development in
England and Wales, 1945-1971". Town Planning Review. 33 (1): 49.
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18
October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2014. /
Domesday Book Online - Landowners A-C".
^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1297894)".
National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
^ "NORFOLK ASSIZES. (Hansard 24 February 1825)". Hansard 1803-2005.
Retrieved 12 April 2016.
^ "PLACE FOR HOLDING THE NORFOLK ASSIZES (Hansard, 3 April 1832)".
Hansard 1803-2005. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
^ White, William (1845). History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk.
Sheffield. p. 91.
^ Head 2008; Cokayne 1936
^ Common Sense
^ The American Crisis
Norfolk Black History. "Dr. Allan Glaisyer Minns: Britain's
First Black Mayor - Local Black History - History -
^ "Town Expansion and Migration". Thetford's Great Heritage. Thetford
Town Council. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
^ "Wellington strides to top title". Watton &
Swaffham Times. 17
October 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-12. [permanent dead link]
^ "Dualled A11 between
Thetford and the Fiveways roundabout to
officially open this morning". Retrieved 2015-09-23.
^ "Tulip moves fresh lines from Thetford". Grocer. March
2007. [dead link]
^ The Complete A-Z of
Dad's Army Webber,R London, Orion, 2000
^ Article by
Jan Moir in
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph issue 47,433 dated 5
Dad's Army tribute statue planned". BBC News. 2007-12-01. Retrieved
^ "In pictures:
Dad's Army Mainwaring statue in Thetford". BBC
Norfolk. 2010-06-19. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
^ About the Association,
Thetford Twinning Association, retrieved 14
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Thetford.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thetford.
Information from Genuki
Norfolk on Thetford.
Thetford Tourism website
Ceremonial county of Norfolk
Boroughs or districts
King's Lynn and West Norfolk
Redenhall with Harleston
Thorpe St Andrew
See also: List of civil parishes in Norfolk
Population of major settlements
Grade I listed buildings
Grade II* listed buildings
Civil parishes of Breckland
Beeston with Bittering
Newton by Castle Acre
Roudham and Larling
Sporle with Palgrave
Weasenham All Saints
Weasenham St Peter
Whinburgh and Westfield
King's Lynn and West Norfolk