Thetford War Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Market Place, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2AL


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Statutory Address:
Market Place, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2AL

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Breckland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


First World War memorial, built 1921; altered after the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

Thetford War Memorial is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest: * as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice it made in the conflicts of the C20.

Architectural interest:

* as an elegant and well-executed Balmoral granite cross.

Group value:

* with several listed buildings around the Market Place, including the Grade II*-listed 3 & 4 Market Place.


The aftermath of the First World War saw the biggest single wave of public commemoration ever with tens of thousands of memorials erected across England. This was the result of both the huge impact on communities of the loss of 750,000 British lives, and also the official policy of not repatriating the dead which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. One such memorial was raised at Thetford, as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the 117 members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.

Immediately after the end of the First World War committees were established in Thetford for an extension to the cottage hospital on Earls Street as a memorial. Whilst the scheme received widespread support, part-way through proceedings letters appeared in the local press expressing a need to also have a monument. At a meeting in June 1919 the Mayor, Councillor JG Brown, suggested that the monument be placed in the cottage hospital grounds. Whilst insufficient funds had been raised for the extension, some money was in hand, but not enough to buy a suitable memorial. The site had also become a contentious issue. The Hospital Committee looked to the local Comrades of the Great War to raise further funds, and the matter was brought before a public meeting. It was eventually decided that the freestanding memorial should be located in the Market Place.

The memorial was unveiled on Sunday 4 December 1921, by Major General Sir Charles V F Townshend. At the unveiling, places were reserved for relatives of the fallen, and ex-servicemen formed a line from the Town Hall to the memorial. Two further names were added to the memorial at a later date.

Following the Second World War, a dedication was added to commemorate 43 the men who fell in that conflict; two further names were added later. The panel carrying these names was unveiled by Mr George Neave who had served in the Royal Armoured Corps and was injured in battle in Caen three weeks after D-Day.


First World War memorial, built 1921; altered after the Second World War.

MATERIALS: Balmoral granite.

DESCRIPTION: Thetford War Memorial is located in Thetford Market Place in the heart of the town. It comprises a polished Balmoral granite foliated cross on an octagonal shaft with collar and ring decoration and a moulded base of unpolished granite. It stands on an octagonal plinth with a moulded foot, on a three-tiered base.

The front of the plinth is carved with the Seal of Thetford and the inscription 1914 1918 / IN / EVER GRATEFUL / REMEMBRANCE / OF THE MEN OF / THIS BOROUGH / WHO / GAVE THEIR LIVES / IN THE GREAT WAR / "LEST WE FORGET". The names of the fallen of the First World War are inscribed on the other faces of the plinth, and the names of those who fell in the Second World War are inscribed on the rear of the plinth and base below the dates 1939-1945.


Imperial War Museum: War Memorials Register: Borough of Thetford , accessed 30/05/2019 from
War Memorials Online: Thetford War Memorial , accessed 30/05/2019 from
Bury Free Press Saturday 10 December 1921, pp11-12
Bury Free Press Saturday 19 June 1920, p2
Diss Express Friday 20 August 1948, p8
Diss Express Friday 23 May 1919, p8


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing