Twin Towns: Thetford, the UK

Population: ca. 23 000

Thetford is situated in the centre of East Anglia around 30 miles from Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich, 50 miles from the coast and 80 miles from London.
In the course of the last 50 years, Thetford has undergone major changes especially through a policy agreed during the 50's and 60's,  of migration to the town from some more densely populated areas of London. This resulted in enlargement of the town through industrialization and establishment of new residential areas.

Ancient flint mines show that the town was already inhabited in the Neolithic period. It became the capital of the region and it was the sixth largest town in Saxon England. In the 11th century it was a Bishopric with a large Cluniac monastery, now in ruins following the Dissolution.
Many other links with the past can still be seen - parts of the Bell Hotel date from the 15th century, the Dolphin Inn from the 17th and the oldest almshouses from the same period.

Its most famous son, Thomas Paine, born 1737, was a pamphleteer and radical leader of reforms in the USA and France. His statue (erected by the Thomas Paine Foundation of America) can be seen in front of the Council Offices in kings House. A particularly interesting place to visit in Thetford is Ancient House Museum, a 15th century town house, which houses collections of memorabilia relating to Thomas Paine and Maharajah Duleep Singh, a small collection of local archeological material and fossils and an interactive display covering the natural and social history of The Brecks.

In Thetford County Branch Library there are three special collections. The first is the G W Staniforth Bequest comprising approximately 9000 books; these date from 1815 to 1920 and reflect the interests of well-to-do Victorian readers. Second is the Prince Duleep Singh collection which consists of books, maps and a large collection of illustrations all relating to East Anglia in the period of around the turn of the centuries. The third is the Thomas Paine collection. This consists of about 1500 books and pamphlets plus over 200 other artifacts including photos of monuments, portraits, correspondence files and various personal items.
The Bell Hotel has been serving as a meeting place since the 15th century. The combination of modern facilities and standards of comfort with the individual character and charm of its history, make the hotel one of the most attractive places to stay in the area.

To those interested, the town offers 5 trails:
- Heritage Trail
- Thomas Paine Trail
- Dad'a Army Trail
- Maharajah Duleep Singh Trail
- Haunted Heritage Trail


Twin Towns

since 1966 Hürth (Germany)
since 1966 Les Ulis (France)
since 1966 Spijkenisse (Holland)
since 2004 Skawina (Poland)

Thetford Twinning Association, current chairman is Jennifer Bullock, in co-operation with the Town council,  supports the maintenance and intensification of the contacts with the twin towns.

The Mayor of Thetford 2009/2010: Pam Spencer


Town website: www.thetfordtowncouncil.gov.uk
Thetford Twinning Association website: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/thetford.twinning/

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