The Village of Thetford in Norfolk

Thetford Holidays

A visitors guide to the Market Town of Thetford located in the area known as Breckland in Norfolk. Surrounded by the Little Ouse River, the town of Thetford is very much a mixture of the old and the new, an ancient town with modern blood running through its veins. Thetford is making great strides to re-discover its heritage and enhance its image as a place of historical interest. The town is surrounded by acre after acre of fields, forest and heath land, making it ideal for walking, cycling, horse riding and outdoor pursuits.

Within the towns conservation area there are some interesting architecture buildings, along with references to past legendary figures. Extensive well maintained riverside walks extend out from the towns centre, dotted with modern affluent properties. The Nunery Lakes Nature Reserve managed by the British Trust for Ornithology extends along the valleys of the rivers Thet and Little Ouse and consists of 200 acres of mixed habitats, including heath land, woodland flood-meadow and open water. There are over 2.5 kilometres of paths, a boardwalk through a wet woodland and a hide over looking flooded meadows with lots of places to sit and enjoy the scenery.

Visit High Lodge at Thetford Forest, the Forestry Commission's premier recreation site in the East of England. You can walk, cycle, play, picnic, barbecue or simply relax and enjoy Thetford Forest, Britainís largest lowland pine forest.

In the main town large parts of the shopping area are pedestranised and whilst not an extensive shopping place, there are certainly sufficient outlets for the visitor as well as many places to eat and stay. 

Thetford is one of Englands most ancient settlements and can trace its history back to the Iron Age. At Gallows Hill large quantities of Iceni coins were found, which imply that Thetford may well have been the royal residence of King Prasutagus and his wife the famous Queen Boudicca. Unfortunately as Boudiccas residence would have been made of wood it is unsurprising that nothing remains of it. 

After the death of her husband King Prasutagus in around AD43 the Romans invaded Britain, Boudicca raised an army uniting the Iceni with the Trinovantes tribes, she then marched on Camulodunum - which is now modern day Colchester. Despite initial successes, as we all know Boudicca and her army were eventually defeated by the Romans.

Castle Mound on the outskirts of the town measures around 27 metres high and 333 metres round its base and is  believed to have been built after the Norman Conquest. 
Just slightly outside the town are the remains of a Cluniac Priory once the third largest in Norfolk, which was founded in the 12th century by Sir Roger Bigod. Unfortunately after the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry 8th the building fell into ruin and much of the stones were used elsewhere in the town. However the present day ruins are still very impressive.

Other historical figures from Thetfords past include Thomas Paine whose statue can be found in front of Kings House, a favoured residence of James I when he was in town. Thomas Paine was born in White Hart Street Thetford in 1737 and was considered a radical and some say a traitor. He spoke out against the injustices done to the poor of England by the government and the rich of that day. In 1774 he crossed over the water to America where he met Benjamin Franklin. Paine played a major part in the American Revolution and many of his ideas were incorporated in the American Declaration of Independence.

In the park is a lovely statue of an Indian gentleman astride a black horse. This is the Maharaja Duleep Singh (1838-1893). He was the last ruler of an independent Punjab until the British took over in 1843. The British not only took his kingdom but also his treasure including the famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond.  In exchange for all this the British agreed to give the Maharaja an English pension. Duleep Singh came over here in 1863 and adopted the life of an English country gentleman living on an estate in Elveden Hall near Thetford where he was befriended by Queen Victoria. His pension was not sufficient for his needs and he soon fell out with the government.

Explore Norfolk and Suffolk - Click the Location Link. It came to light not that long ago that Thetford also had another claim to fame, that of being the birth place of Harry Bensley known as the man in the iron mask. Bensley undertook a wager with American millionaire John Morgan. Who bet Bensley US$100,000 that he could not travel around the world in an iron mask pushing a pram. Unfortunately despite covering thirty thousand miles Bensley did not win his bet as the First World War intruded.

Explore Norfolk and Suffolk - Click the Location Link. In 1979 there was a major find of Roman artefacts found in Gallows Hill which lies to the north of the town. The treasure included rings, pendants, necklaces and were found by a free-lance metal detectorist. The treasure is now in the British Museum but there is a replica on display at the Ancient House Museum Thetford

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