Visit Thetford and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Thetford, Norfolk. It hardly seems possible that this small market town on the River Thet and centrally placed at the junctions of no less than eight main roads was at one time the cathedral city of East Anglia. In the 11th century there were already 13 churches; by the time of Edward III there were 20. In addition there were at least four monastic houses and other buildings of some importance. Yet of all this splendour only three churches remain today and any number of attractive and worthwhile buildings of later date.
With the Dissolution Thetford seemed to come to a halt. The seat of the early Kings of East Anglia, it was the site of important Anglo-Saxon settlements. The castle Mound, still prominent, was the site of the Castle, demolished in 1173. Just 100 years before, the See of East Anglia had moved to Thetford from North Elmham before it finally settled at Norwich in 1095. Suddenly expansion stopped and Thetford lay dormant until around 1820 an attempt was made to make it a spa. But it soon slipped back into obscurity, and Thetford has remained a quiet little town, though recent years have seen an expansion of industrial and shopping facilities.
Perhaps its most famous Citizen was Thomas Paine, the author of the Rights of Man. Paine was born in White Hart Street in 1737, son of a Quaker farmer. He left his wife in 1774 to settle in America where in 1776 he published Common Sense, a plea for American Independence. it was shortly after his return to England that he published the Rights of Man (1790-2), his most famous work, which sold 14 million copies in England alone. Its notoriety made it necessary for him to flee to France where he wrote The Age of Reason. 1802 saw his return to America where seven years later he died in New York.
Thetford's churches are St Cuthbert's, St Mary-the-Less and St Peter's, all of which have been much restored and rebuilt. The Roman Catholic Church of St Mary and the Congregational church both date from the early 19th century. Though the churches are not of great architectural interest the monastic remains are, and include those of the Cluniac Priory of Our Lady, founded in 1103. where at one time the Howard tombs were, later to be transferred to Framlingham in Suffolk. Among the other scattered but impressive ruins are those of the Augustinian Priory of St Sepulchre and the Nunnery of St George. The Grammar School in London Road occupies the first site of the Cluniac priory.
In a town full of interesting streets and buildings space should be found for the timber-framed Ancient House, now a museum. Its main room has a fine ceiling of moulded and decorated Tudor beams. The early-l6th-century Bell Hotel is also half-timbered and shows the early wattle and daub construction in a section which has been allowed to remain on view. The Dolphin Inn is dated 1694 and is of brick and flint. Behind the Guildhall, rebuilt in 1900, is the former lock-up and in Old Market Street stands the Old Gaol, a flint building dated 1816. King's House in King Street carries the Royal Arms as a token of the fact that an earlier house on the same site was used by King James I.
A statue to Thomas Paine stands opposite the Bell.
Nearby cities: Norwich
Nearby towns: Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Diss, Downham Market, Harleston, Mildenhall, Swaffham, Watton, Wymondham
Nearby villages: Bardwell, Barningham, Breckles, Bridgham, Coney Weston, East Wretham, Elveden, Euston, Gasthorpe, Great Livermere, Harling, Hepworth, Hepworth, Hockham, Honington, Ickburgh, Icklingham, Illington, Ixworth Thorpe, Kilverstone, Knettishall, Lakenheath, Larling, Lynford, Mundford, Roudham, Rushford, Sapiston, Troston, Weeting, West Tofts, Wordwell
Have you decided to visit Thetford or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Thetford bed and breakfast (a Thetford B&B or Thetford b and b)
- a Thetford guesthouse
- a Thetford hotel (or motel)
- a Thetford self-catering establishment, or
- other Thetford accommodation