About this Business

Ancient House is an atmospheric crooked house that tells the story of Thetford and the Brecks.

Set in a beautiful Tudor house, you can discover Thetford's connection with an Indian Prince, the Maharajah Duleep Singh. The museum, founded by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, the Maharajah's second son, displays a range of original family photographs and items from the family's collections.

Learn about Thetford's revolutionary hero Thomas Paine, who was born 100 metres from the Ancient House in 1737. Influenced by his humble origins in a corrupt and violent world he wrote earth shattering pamphlets and books such as Common Sense, Age of Reason and Rights of Man. He became one of the greatest political figures of his day. Paine stirred up the spirit of Independence in America. He defended the ideals of the French Revolution, and Paine shaped democracy and human rights in Britain where the authorities organised a backlash against him, and effigies of Thomas Paine were publicly burned up and down the country.

The Tudor hall was the main room of the house and used for dining and entertaining and you can see it as it might have looked in about 1595. The red and yellow wall hanging reflects typical Tudor style. The portraits on the walls date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Collectors Room is full of treasures from the museum collections with more on show in the pull-out drawers.

The 1901 kitchen is displayed to reflect life at the Ancient House in 1901 when the population census tells us Thomas Newton, a rabbit warrener, was living here with his wife Emily, their family and four lodgers. The kitchen includes a working coal-fired range for cooking, a copper with a wooden lid for heating water and a mangle for wringing out the washing. On the table, rabbit pie is being prepared.

The Ancient Householders Room examines the lives of four of the house’s previous occupants who once owned or lived in this building: an innkeeper, a plumber, a watchmaker and a museum caretaker. You can also discover the animal occupants of the house from the black rat and house mouse to bed bugs and body lice.

The two upstairs rooms were originally used as living and sleeping apartments. The first room, now known as History Highlights, is displayed with archaeology and ephemera relating to Thetford’s rich history. This includes objects dating from prehistory, the eras of the Celts, the Romans, the Vikings, through to the 1960s. Discover Boudicca's link to the town and the town's very own treasure!

360 Degree Vikings

From the middle decades of the 9th century, Anglo-Saxon East Anglia was an integral part of the Viking world, which spanned the North Sea basin. In the year AD 869, the Brecks area became a focus for the Viking Great Army, which made camp in Thetford and killed the East Anglian King Edmund, after which Bury St Edmunds was named, in battle.

Vortex Visual Ltd. has created an amazing 360° tour of Ancient House Museum's recent 'Vikings on your Doorstep' exhibition, which ended after a year-long run in summer 2023.

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