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Thetford's Heritage

Once the ancient capital of East Anglia, Thetford is a historical market town situated at the heart of the unique Brecks natural area. Its location makes it an ideal place to soak up all of the history and heritage on offer and discover a nationally important natural habitat.

Visit Thetford’s TIC for information on places to stay, things to do and places to visit while in Thetford or the local box office for tickets to many local events.

Thetford is a model of the history of England and you can discover it all here across thirteen spectacular eras. Each era is linked to key places in Thetford and relevant historical characters to help tell the story and make sense of the fascinating history.

The most amazing people have been to Thetford over the last 2,000 years and left their mark; Normans, Vikings, monks, great thinkers, female warriors, Britain’s first black mayor, Kings and Queens, revolutionary engineers, Dad’s Army and today’s multicultural communities.

Enjoy exploring this website… mingle with influential historical characters, dig in to the significant thirteen eras and then come and visit Thetford in person to soak up the rich and varied history that makes Thetford’s heritage truly great.

Take a look and enjoy the 2,000 year journey – we think you’ll be surprised…

13 Eras

The Age of Boudica

The Age of Boudica

Boudica, one of the most iconic female warriors in English history, built Gallows Hill in Thetford then lead the revolt against the Romans

The Viking Age

The Viking Age

In its heyday, Thetford was the Saxon capital of East Anglia.

The Norman Age

The Norman Age

After the Norman Conquest Thetford’s Priory and the castle (with the largest motte in England) were founded by Roger Bigod, a close friend of William the Conqueror.

The Age of Medieval Devotion

The Age of Medieval Devotion

Discover the monks who commanded some of the most economically powerful institutions in East Anglia.

The Mercantile Age

The Mercantile Age

In the C16th the town was a successful mercantile centre, reflected in the surviving merchant houses and associations with major figures such as John of Gaunt

Tudors and Jacobeans

Tudors and Jacobeans

Thetford became the haunts of Kings, Queens and Dukes. The Tudor and Jacobean period saw the town develop further, thanks to friendships with the Dukes of Norfolk, the Cleres, the Fulmerstons and James I.

Civil War and Restoration

Civil War and Restoration

The town sided with Parliament during the Civil War but fared well at the Restoration with one of its prominent Parliamentarians donating the Civic Regalia.

The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford and was the first champion of the Rights of Man.

The Age of Industrial Innovation

The Age of Industrial Innovation

The founders of traction engines and agro crop science were from Victorian Thetford.

The Age of Empire

The Age of Empire

Maharajah Duleep Singh lived in Thetford, he was good friends with Queen Victoria and the owner of the world’s largest diamond.

The Age of Municipal Democracy

The Age of Municipal Democracy

Thetford became the first town in Britain to elect a black Mayor.

The Age of Global Wars

The Age of Global Wars

In the 1960's & 1970’s Thetford was home to the TV series Dad’s Army.

Town Expansion and Migration

Town Expansion and Migration

From the 1950’s Thetford became an ‘overspill town’ taking new populations from London and grew at a faster rate than any other English town.

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