Official Visitor Website
Back to Attractions Attractions

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life

The charming black and white building known as the Ancient House is among the principal attractions of the town of Thetford in Norfolk.

Description
Pricing
Opening Times
Description

The charming black and white building known as the Ancient House is among the principal attractions of the town of Thetford in Norfolk. Indeed, it probably ranks as one of the best examples of an early Tudor town house in East Anglia.

None of the documents at present available, shed any light upon who built the house or when. The conveyance of 1921 (when the house was given to the town) speaks of its erection in the reign of Edward IV (1461-83), architectural details point to a date soon after 1500.

Clearly it was the home of a merchant of some wealth, who wished to model his dwelling on the larger mansions of the day and was prepared to pay for the best craftsmen in its construction. He seems to have been restricted in the size of the site at his disposal, however, and was probably constrained by earlier boundaries on both sides. Nevertheless the house would have been detached when first built, with perhaps a carriage entrance at the side.

The house attracted attention in 1867, when a local historian wrote that ‘two interesting Elizabethan studded houses were discovered in White Hart Street upon the removal of the external plaster’. Sketches of the house made in the late nineteenth century show that its external appearance was then much the same as it is today.

In 1921, the Mayor of Thetford consulted the local antiquary Prince Frederick Duleep Singh about setting up a museum in the town. The Prince very generously responded by purchasing the Ancient House and presenting it to the Mayor and Corporation of Thetford for this purpose.

With the advice of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the house was carefully restored, and the Prince contributed to the estimated cost of £550. Stairways, doors, fireplaces and partitions were removed, and the plaster stripped to reveal the unsuspected richness of carving underneath.

On 11 December 1924, the museum was opened by the Duchess of Grafton. It was administered by Thetford Borough Council until the museum became part of Norfolk Museums Service in 1974.

Pricing

dult: £4.70
Concession*: £4.45
Child (4-18): £4
Family (1 adult and children): £12.40
Family (2 adults and children): £16.55
Twilight Ticket (1 hour before closing): £1.50
Museums Pass holders, Friends of Ancient House and under 4s: Free

There is a discount for groups of 10 or more if you book in advance. Please contact us for more details.

More information about group visits
Payment can be made on the day of your visit by cash, credit card or cheque (made payable to Norfolk County Council).

Your ticket is valid all day, so if you want to explore Thetford you can pop in and out as much as you want.

Visitors with disabilities may bring one companion in free.

Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

*Concessions for visitors with disabilities, over 65s and students.

Visitors with disabilities may bring one companion in free.

Opening Times

April – September
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
October – March
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm
Closed Sundays, Mondays and Bank Holidays, including Good Friday, 25 and 26 December and 1 January.

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life
Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life
White Hart Street
Thetford
Norfolk
IP24 1AA