Signpost in Thetford
[[Image:|240px|Thetford is located in ]]
Thetford shown within
|Population||21588 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||IP24 - 26|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||South West Norfolk|
|List of places: UK • England •|
Thetford is a market town and civil parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England. It is on the A11 road between Norwich and London, just south of Thetford Forest. The civil parish, covering an area of , has a population of 21,588.
Thetford is traditionally thought of as the royal residence of Boudica Queen of the Iceni. The Iceni were a Celtic tribe living in Norfolk and parts of Cambridgeshire. Archaeological evidence suggests that Thetford was an important tribal centre during the late Iron Age and early Roman period. A ceremonial 'grove' was uncovered there during excavations. In 1979, a hoard of Romano-British metalwork, known as the Thetford treasure was located just outside of Thetford. Dating from the mid-4th Century AD, this hoard is a collection of thirty three inscribed spoons, twenty gold finger rings, four pendants, several necklaces and a 2" gold buckle depicting a dancing satyr. They are currently on display and under curation at the British Museum.
Thetford, an important crossing of the Little Ouse River, draws its name from the Anglo-Saxon Theodford or peoples ford. The nearby River Thet was later named after the town.
Castle Hill, to the south-east of the town centre, is the highest Norman motte in England though no trace remains of the castle which once surmounted it. The mound (motte) is open to the public, and provides excellent views of the town from its summit and extensive earthworks. It is situated in a public park, near the Three Nuns Bridges and close to the town centre overlooking the rivers. It is said that a network of chalk tunnels is buried deep within Castle Hill, which once acted as an escape route for Monks during a time of civil strife. Rumour has it that one of the entrances to these tunnels can be found in the basement of a house along Old Market Street.
Thetford also contains the ruins of a 12th century Cluniac priory. The Priory, open to the public, was closed during the Reformation. Both the Priory and the Bell Inn, also in Thetford, were featured for their alleged hauntings on the television series Ghosthunters, after stories of one of the Bell Inn's staff members being curiously locked into one of the bedrooms she was cleaning.
The British Trust for Ornithology moved its headquarters into the former Nunnery, south of the town centre, in 1991.
Thetford was the birthplace of Thomas Paine and a statue of Paine stands on King Street, holding a quill and his book Rights of Man, upside down. Paine attended Thetford Grammar School. Born in Thetford on February 9, 1737, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 in time to participate in the . His principal contributions were the powerful, widely read pamphlet Common Sense  (1776), advocating colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and The American Crisis  (1776–1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series.
East Harling, near Thetford hosts an annual Autumn Equinox Festival for astronomy. The festival has featured Patrick Moore of The Sky at Night. Thetford is also the site for the UK's Star Party, as it is centrally located in a rural area with dark night skies. An annual concert, STORM, also calls Thetford home.
The local football club, Thetford Town, plays in the Eastern Counties League. The Thetford & District Sunday Football League, now known as the Breckland & District Sunday Football League, encompasses teams from within a radius of Thetford. Thetford Cricket Club play their home games next to the football club on Mundford Road. They currently have 3 men's teams, 2 that play on Saturdays and 1 on Sundays, and an ever growing youth training scheme. The club are represented in the Norfolk Cricket Alliance Division 3 and Division 6 and the Mid-Norfolk Sunday Cricket League Division 3.
Every summer, Castle Park plays host to a distinct group of individuals known as the 'Castle Park Football Club'. The members are non-professional football players that all know each other from local public houses such as 'The Rose & Crown', 'Thetford Snooker Club' and 'The Green Dragon', and they gather together every Sunday throughout summer to enjoy the weather, engage in conversation about the previous night's mischief and play some good old fashioned football.
There is also a swimming team called Thetford Dolphins based in Breckland Leisure Centre at the Waterworld swimming pools. The world champion triathlete Chrissie Wellington is a former member of this swimming club.
High Lodge Forest Center, located in Thetford Forest attracts thousands of visitors every year. Events are held throughout the year including summer concerts and the halloween 'terror trail'.
Thetford is also home to www.radiothetford.co.uk radio thetford , an On-line community radio station for Thetford, Broadcasting from The Church on the Way, Thetford.
It is served by Thetford railway station, with National Express East Anglia running services between Norwich and Cambridge, and East Midlands Trains from Norwich to Liverpool (via Sheffield and Manchester). From Cambridge, regular services run to London King's Cross.
Thetford has been home to Tulip International, large-scale manufacturers of bacon, beef and pork. The factory opened its doors in 1966 and was one of the biggest bacon production factories in the UK. In 2007 the factory ceased production of fresh bacon, beef and pork with the loss of 350 jobs, although cooked bacon and fried products continued to be made until all production ceased in February 2009.
According to the 2001 UK Census, almost 22,000 people were residing in Thetford, with a 2004 study showing an unusually high percentage (almost 30% in fact) of people of Portuguese descent in the town. Around 6,000 people in the area have Portuguese as a mother tongue.
The external scenes for the BBC1 TV series Dad's Army were filmed in and around the town with Thetford's flint buildings doubling for Walmington-on-Sea. In December 2007 it was announced that a statue of Arthur Lowe who played the leading character Captain George Mainwaring may be erected in the town. For a town with no discernible claim to fame, and with relatively little going for it, Thetford were glad to spend over £17,000 on the bronze artwork. The statue was unveiled next to the Little Ouse river in the town at 12:00pm. The statue depicts Captain Mainwaring sitting on a park bench. This was preceded by a stage show re-enacting several Dad's Army episodes which was shown over the course of several nights, including "The Godiva Affair".
After years of meetings with both Thetford and Breckland coucil, the Thetford Skate Committee has finally acquired a plot of land from Breckland council for a concrete skatepark. An estimated quarter of a million pounds has been raised to build the skatepark, which will be situated next to Thetford Town. Building is suggested to commence in 2011.
Thetford is twinned with the towns of: