I recently posted about the Norfolk county links with Abraham Lincoln. American history is seemingly everywhere in Norfolk, and no less so in Thetford. This former capitol of the Angles is also the home of Thomas Paine, author of the pamphlet Common Sense and an ideological leader of the American Revolution.
Paine was born in the town in 1737, and attended the Thetford Grammar School which boasts a pre-Norman Conquest founding date. He apprenticed as a ship’s stay maker, and later became an engineer building the world’s second ever iron bridge.
In Thetford there is a statue depicting Paine, quill in hand, outside of the Council Offices.
Other locations associated with him include the Grammar School which has a plaque recognising him as one of the school’s alumni.
Paine’s childhood home is now part of the Thomas Paine Hotel which also houses Franklin’s Brasserie. The hotel is a wonderful Eighteenth Century venue and the decor gives nods to its links with the political thinker. The furnishing are also in keeping with its period and theme and provides a wonderful atmosphere.
The brasserie dining room is fairly small, but in no way claustrophobic. It is as nicely appointed as the rest of the hotel, and the cuisine is of high quality. We had a white fish dish and a steak, both of which were well prepared, tasty, and well-presented.
There is a plaque here as well put in place by American forces personnel during the Second World War.
I must also note that the hotel has a personal connection to me as well, as it was the venue for my wedding reception.
Thetford’s American links are many, but the Paine link is one well worth exploring.