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Thetford historian honoured with freedom of the town




A town historian has been given the Freedom of Thetford, nearly 50 years after the last individual recipient received the honour.

David Osborne, who has researched the town’s history for around 40 years and started to write books about it in the mid-80s, was recognised for his dedication to the town by the Mayor of Thetford Brenda Canham at his home on Wednesday.

Councillor Canham said: “When the idea to give David the Freedom of Thetford was brought to council, it was voted for unanimously,

David Osborne receiving his Freedom of Thetford Town at his home. (16555261)
David Osborne receiving his Freedom of Thetford Town at his home. (16555261)

“When people in the next 100 years want to find out about the town’s history, they will find David’s research and work, whether it is his books or other things he has done, that is why we think he is worthy of this.”

Not only have David's publications, on subjects such as drinking establishments in the town and how it was affected by World War One, helped people to better understand the town’s history, he also works very closely with the Ancient House Museum, in Whitehart Street.

Curator Oliver Bone said: “David has dedicated himself to researching and sharing his unsurpassed knowledge of the town,

Freedom of Thetford recipient David Osborne with his latest publicationPicture: Mark Bullimore Photography
Freedom of Thetford recipient David Osborne with his latest publicationPicture: Mark Bullimore Photography

“He has always been selfless in contributing to community life. At the museum he has always been so helpful with public enquiries, lending material for exhibitions and assisting us whenever and wherever he can.”

One of the examples of this was for the town’s First World War Project, where the historian uncovered the town’s Roll of Honour during his research and helped to fully restore it for future generations.

With his honour, David joins William Ellis Clarke, the last person to receive the Freedom of Thetford, in 1973.

William Ellis Clarke who received the Freedom of the Borough of Thetford in the 1970s (16478275)
William Ellis Clarke who received the Freedom of the Borough of Thetford in the 1970s (16478275)

He orchestrated Thetford’s participation in the Town Expansion Scheme, bringing industry and workers from London there in the 1960s and 70s.

Mr Clarke was also made an MBE in 1974 for his distinguished services to Thetford.



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