Thetford and the surrounding area is the earliest settlement in Norfolk. Grimes Graves is north of the town and there is evidence that there was much activity in the area during the Neolithic period. Gallows Hill is where a huge find of gold and silver was uncovered, as well as a temple.
Thetford was a main stopping point on the coaching road from London. Many of the coaching hotels in the town can be seen today with their wide archways enabling the coaches to make their entrance.
After the Second World War the main London road stopped running through the town centre, when the first by-pass was created. After World War II Thetford became an overspill town, taking people from London and the town’s population increased substantially.
Thetford Castle Hill is England’s tallest medieval earthwork and is an excellent spot to view the places of interest. The ruins of a Cluniac priory and Benedictine nunnery can be seen, as well as a timber framed building that houses the local history museum and, in contrast, a very modern sports centre.
The Market Place may appear familiar to ‘Dad’s Army’ enthusiasts as the Guildhall was once Warrington-on-Sea’s town hall in the popular television series. This is where Thetford Market is located, in front of the Guildhall in the centre of Thetford, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Interesting facts about Thetford
- Thetford is the birthplace of the 18th century radical Thomas Paine. English-born American political activist, political theorist, philosopher and revolutionary, whose thinking encouraged American independence and the abolition of slavery
- Statues of Thomas Paine and Captain Mainwaring - a fictional character in the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army, portrayed by Arthur Lowe, can both be found in the town
- Thetford Forest is the UK's largest manmade lowland forest with 18,730 hectares to explore and is a patchwork of heathland, pines and broadleaves and home to a rich and diverse variety of animal and plant life
- The town has 3 museums - The Charles Burrell Museum, dedicated to steam power and transport it is housed in the former Charles Burrell factory where traction engines were made. The Ancient House Museum was once a Tudor home and was given to the town by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, the last maharajah’s son. Find out about flint knapping, Thomas Paine, the Thetford treasure, and the Maharajah Duleep Singh. The Dad’s Army Museum celebrates the legendary TV series which was filmed around Thetford and can be found in the old fire station on Cage Lane
- Ancient treasure was unearthed at Gallows Hill, Thetford, in 1979. This included highly decorated silver spoons, gold rings, bracelets and necklaces. It is considered one of the most important Romano-British hoards ever found and can be seen in the British Museum in London
- The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is based in a beautifully converted Nunnery in Thetford
Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest man-made lowland forest with 18,730 hectares to explore on foot or on bike. Straddling the south of Norfolk and the north of Suffolk, this patchwork of heathland, pine trees and broad leaf trees makes the perfect destination on a dry day. High Lodge Visitor Centre, 4 miles from the Norfolk town of Thetford, offers excellent outdoor facilities, including Go Ape!, 4 walking trails, 3 cycling trails, forest Segway, picnic areas, bike hire, archery, play areas and BBQ hire. Dogs are welcome and there is a café serving hot and cold food and drink. There is a large, well signposted carpark and parking charges apply.
Map of Thetford
Attractions in Thetford
Grime's Graves is the only Neolithic flint mine open to visitors in Britain. Visitors can descend 10m (30 feet) by ladder into one excavated shaft and experience at first hand the conditions of Stone Age man 5000 years ago. The unusual landscape of Grime's Graves long confused 'experts' with its series of gentle hollows and depressions - find out what wacky theories were conceived as explanations!
Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life
White Hart Street, Thetford, Norfolk
Set in a beautiful Tudor house with 21st century displays, this museum tells the remarkable story of Thetford and the Brecks. Discover rich collections alongside audio guides, films and animations.
Meet local people from Thetford's past from the revolutionary philosopher Tom Paine to the Sikh hero Maharajah Duleep Singh and from rabbit warreners to railway workers. Plus new shop and garden.
Waterworld at Breckland Leisure Centre
Croxton Road, Thetford, Norfolk
With 3 pools to choose from, flumes, rapids and waves there is something here that will appeal to all swimmers. There are sports halls, a state-of-art fitness centre and various classes including step, aerobics and yoga.
Accommodation in Thetford
Set deep within King Edward VIII Wood, a mile from the nearest road, this romantic shepherd’s hut is both tranquil and away from it all, yet comes with a host of luxuries. An all year round holiday retreat in the most beautiful and unique location.
This lovely little village cottage, located in pretty Thompson village on the outskirts of Thetford Forest, offers the opportunity for a peaceful stay in a quiet and rural location. Sleeping four guests in two bedrooms, it has rural walks on the doorstep and the whole forest is there to explore.