Thetford’s Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine was one of the greatest political figures of his day. He was born in 1737, in a building 100 metres from the Ancient House. Influenced by his humble origins in a corrupt and violent world he went on to write earth shattering pamphlets and books such as Common Sense, Age of Reason and Rights of Man.
A classic ‘late starter’, Paine became a “walking revolution” (Mark Steel). He stirred up the spirit of Independence in America. He defended the ideals of the French Revolution and shaped democracy and human rights in Britain. The British authorities (George III, Prime Minister Pitt and ministers), worried that Revolution would spread from France to Britain, organised a backlash against him. Effigies of Thomas Paine were publicly burned up and down the county, including at nearby Swaffham.
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