Local History

Local Weather

Thetford is a market town and civil parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England. It is on the A11 road between Norwich and London, just south of Thetford Forest. The civil parish, covering an area of 29.55 km2 and has a population over 21,000.

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.

Thetford, an important crossing of the Little Ouse River, draws its name from the Anglo-Saxon Thetford 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 Anglia and was seat of a bishopric.[citation needed] The 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 the highest Norman motte in England[citation needed] 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. It is said that a network of chalk tunnels is buried deep within Castle Hill, which once acted as an escape route for Monks during a time of civil strife. Rumour has it that one of the entrances to these tunnels can be found in the basement of a house along Old Market Street.

Thetford also contains the ruins of a 12th century Cluniac 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, after stories of one of the Bell Inn's staff members being curiously locked into one of the bedrooms she was cleaning.

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 School. Born in Thetford on February 9, 1737, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time 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 (1776–1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series.

Today, the surrounding Breckland has been largely replaced by the Thetford Forest though Thetford Chase remains. The town has become known for its Portuguese and East European shops and cafes


You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player