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Signpost in Thetford

Thetford is a market town and civil parish in the Brecklandmarker area of Norfolk, Englandmarker. It is on the A11 road between Norwichmarker and Londonmarker, just south of Thetford Forestmarker. The civil parish, covering an area of , has a population of 21,588


Thetford is traditionally thought of as the royal residence of Boudica Queen of the Iceni. 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 of 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 Little Ouse River, draws its name from the Anglo-Saxon Theodford or peoples ford. The nearby River Thet was later named after the town.

In the Anglo-Saxon period, Thetford was the home of the monarchs of East Angliamarker and was seat of a bishopric The Domesday Book lists William of Bello Fargo as the Bishop of Thetford in 1085.

Castle Hillmarker, to the south-east of the town centre, is the highest Norman motte in England 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 situated 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 Cluniacmarker priory. The 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 British Trust for Ornithology moved its headquarters into the former Nunnery, south of the town centre, in 1991.

Thetford was the birthplace of Thomas Paine and a statue of Paine stands on King Street, holding a quill and his book Rights of Man, upside down. Paine attended Thetford Grammar Schoolmarker.

Statue of Thomas Paine

Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns, born in Inaguamarker, the Bahamasmarker, Mayor of Thetford in 1904, was the first black man to become a mayor in Britain.

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and other early Tudor dynasty officials were once buried in Thetford before removal to Framlinghammarker.
Priory ruins
Today, the surrounding Brecklandmarker has been largely replaced by the Thetford Forestmarker though Thetford Chase remains. The town has become known for its Portuguese and East European shops and cafes.

Events and sports

East Harling, nr Thetford hosts an annual Autumn Equinox Festival for astronomy. The festival has featured Patrick Moore of The Sky at Night. Thetford 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, also calls Thetford home.

The local football club, Thetford Townmarker, plays in the Eastern Counties League. The Thetford & District Sunday Football League, now known as the Breckland & District Sunday Football League, encompasses teams from within a 20 mile radius of Thetford. Thetford Cricket Club play their home games next to the football club on Mundford Road. They currently have 3 men's teams and an ever growing youth training scheme.

There is also a swimming team called Thetford Dolphins based in Breckland Leisure Centre at the Waterworld swimming pools. they recently won a links gala with Thetford's sister towns. The world champion triathlete Chrissie Wellington is a former a member of this swimming club.

High Lodge Forest Center, located in Thetford Forest attracts thousands of visitors every year. Events are held throughout the year including summer concerts and the halloween 'terror trail'.

Thetford is also home to Kingdom Radio, a Christian On-line community radio station for Norfolk and Suffolk, Broadcasting from The Church on the Way, Thetford.


Thetford Station
Thetford is just off the A11 road between Norwichmarker (28 miles) and Londonmarker (86 miles). The A11 previously ran through the town but a bypass was constructed in the 1990s.

It is served by Thetford railway stationmarker, with National Express East Anglia running services between Norwich and Cambridgemarker, and East Midlands Trains from Norwich to Liverpoolmarker (via Sheffieldmarker and Manchestermarker). From Cambridge, regular services run to London King's Crossmarker. Check with Sam Faulds for more information.

A branch line to Bury St Edmundsmarker was closed in the 1960s under the Beeching Axe. The remnants of Thetford Bridge railway station on the southern side of the town can still be seen.

The National Cycle Route 13 links Thetford to Gately, near Fakenham.


Thetford has been 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.


According to the 2001 UK Census, almost 22,000 people were residing in Thetford, with a 2004 study showing an unusually high percentage (almost 30% in fact) of people of Portuguese descent in the town. Around 6,000 people in the area have Portuguese as a mother tongue.

Dad's Army

The external scenes for the BBC-1 TV series Dad's Army were filmed in and around the town with Thetford's flint buildings doubling for Walmington-on-Sea. In December 2007 it was announced that a statue of Arthur Lowe who played the leading character Captain George Mainwaring may be erected in the town .

Twin Towns


  1. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Retrieved December 2, 2005.
  2. The Domesday Book Online - Landowners A-C
  3. Norfolk Black History Month
  4. Portuguese community in Thetford
  5. The Complete A-Z of Dad's Army Webber,R London, Orion, 2000 ISBN 0752818384
  6. Article by Jan Moir in The Daily Telegraph issue 47,433 dated 5th December 2007
  7. BBC NEWS | England | Norfolk | Dad's Army tribute statue planned

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