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New exhibition tells the tale of Thetford

PUBLISHED: 09:14 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 21:50 07 July 2010

A NEW exhibition to be hosted at Thetford's Ancient House Museum will explore some of the individual stories of people who have moved to the area and made it their home.

A NEW exhibition to be hosted at Thetford's Ancient House Museum will explore some of the individual stories of people who have moved to the area and made it their home.

From Neanderthal man to a Victorian lady's made to Britain's first black mayor, organisers of the display have researched into generations of families which have contributed to the town's growth and made Thetford what it is today.

The exhibition, Moving Stories, will aim to recreate individual tales, in a bid to emphasise social cohesion in a time of development, and reveal the history behind what was once East Anglia's second town.

Ancient House museum's growing communities project officer, Laura Cole Matthews, said: “We don't want to be pious but that's where we're coming from.

“A lot of people moved here in the town expansion in the 1960s and have real pride and love it here. It (the exhibition) has come from the fact they're building lots of new houses in Thetford through Moving Thetford Forward and they'll be lots of new people so we thought it'd be interesting to look through history and see who's moved here and where they've come from because it's part of what makes it all come together.”

Personal stories throughout the ages include tales and artefacts representing varying eras. From rare hand axes found at Lynford which are thought to date back 60,000 years, to Anglo-Saxon coins made by a Thetford moneyer between 1042 and 1066 to Dr Allan Glaiyser Minns (1858 - 1930) who lived in Thetford and was Britain's first black mayor.

There is also the tale of Robert Street, foreman at the former Charles Burrell company, Stefan Zurowski a Polish world war two settler who met his wife while dancing at Thetford's Guildhall, and who still lives in the town, American GI Howard Higgins, Ralph Mead who moved to the town in the 1960s and Portuguese Joaquim De Sousa Bento Pereira who owns a café on Tanner Street.

“We tried to get a mixture of ancient history, coming up to the present day,” Mrs Cole Matthews said. “I think you can more easily identify with people if you know the name.

“Some people still live here and some are descendents but it's an important part of their life. For Thetford to have such an ancient history of people coming to live here is quite unique because it goes back so far. It was an important place in history because of the ford crossings and during Anglo-Saxon times it was as big as Norwich but then went into a big decline until the 1960s.”

Information has come from various censuses, online work and from the Norfolk Record Office, while the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum in Diss loaned several items relating to American GIs.

The exhibition will run at the museum on White Hart Street from January 8 until June 5. There will also be a programme of events running alongside, including talks, a textile day and drop-in activities.


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