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Attleborough is a market town and civil parish between Norwich and Thetford in Norfolk, England. The parish is in the district of Breckland and has an area of 21.9 square kilometres (8.5 sq mi) and a population of around 10,500.
The Anglo-Saxon foundation of the settlement is unrecorded. A popular theory of the town’s origin makes it a foundation of an Atlinge, and certainly burgh (or burh) indicates that it was fortified at an early date. According to the mid-12th century hagiographer of Saint Edmund, Galfridus de Fontibus, Athla was the founder of the Ancient and royal town of Attleborough in Norfolk. In the Domesday survey launched in 1085 it is referred to as Attleburc.
Following Henry the VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries the building was virtually destroyed by Robert Radcliffe, Lord Fitz Walter, Earl of Sussex, and material from the building was used for making up the road between Attleborough and Buckenham. However, this left Attleborough Church with a tower at the east end.
Many towns can claim the distinction of having had a fire, and Attleborough is no exception, a great part of the town being destroyed by fire in 1559. It was during that period that the Griffin Hotel was built, and it was in the cellars of the Griffin that prisoners on their way to the March Assizes in Thetford were confined overnight, tethered by chains to rings in the wall.
The arrival of the prisoners aroused a great deal of public interest, and eventually traders set up a fair whenever they came. This became known as Attleborough Rogues Fair and was held on the market place on the last Thursday in March. Also on the market place festivities took place on Midsummer Day, when the annual guild was held. It appears that there has been the right to hold a weekly Thursday market in the town since 1285. A weekly market is still held and has recently (in 2004) returned to Queen’s Square where it is presumed the market was originally held.
The first turnpike road in England is reputed to have been created here at the end of the 17th century, Acts of Parliament were passed in 1696 and 1709, “For the repairing of the highway between Wymondham and Attleborough, in the County of Norfolk, and for including therein the road from Wymondham to Hethersett”.