Thetford was home to the Iceni titian-haired warrior
Queen Boudicca. This is where she put together her battle plan to
try to overthrow the Romans - killing 70,000 in the process.
In Saxon times, Thetford was the capital of East
Anglia and it was a prosperous place to live, which led to it having
its own mint in the 10th century.
By 1086, the Domesday Survey estimated Thetford's
population had grown to between 4,000 and 4,500 people, making it
the country's sixth biggest town.
Shortly after this time, Thetford became an important
religious centre. The foundation stone of the Cluniac Priory was
laid in the 12th century and 22 churches were dotted about the town.
However, in the 1500s King Henry VIII decided to
seize the wealthy monasteries to boost the royal coffers. The dissolution
of the monasteries meant the Cluniac Priory was left to fall to
ruin, along with the rest of the town's religious houses.
The priory site soon became a source of cheap building
material and stones from many fallen religious buildings can be
found today around the town including King's House, the town council's
Afterwards the town's population and fortune dwindled
until Thetford became a manufacturing centre for Charles Burrell's
steam traction engines in the 1800s.
The foundry turned out machinery widely regarded
as the Rolls Royces of the steam industry. The works attracted engineers
from London, the Midlands and Yorkshire until it closed in 1928.
With no major employer, the number of people living
in Thetford fell to around 5,000 until the 1950s when the borough
council approached London County Council to bring businesses to
A plan was drawn up for 5,000 Londoners to settle
here and their county council built homes in Norfolk, after a number
of city firms relocated.
Today around 22,000 people live in Thetford, many
of them descendants of those who moved from London and those who
relocated to work at Charles Burrell.
our tour of Thetford
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On our tour discover how Thetford got its name,
find out about its royal residents and visit the Ancient House Museum,
Castle Hill, Cluniac Priory, the Charles Burrell engineering works'
site, the Grammar School, King's House, the Little Ouse river, the
Town Bridge and old theatre.