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Thomas Paine is town’s golden boy

A statue of Thetford’s most well-known son is being give a new lease of life this week in a £4,875 regilding project.

Work on the Thomas Paine statue, outside King’s House, in King Street, started on November 6, after the town council agreed last year to the work and a grant of £2,000 was given by the town’s Thomas Paine Society.

Stuart Wright, a town councillor and committee member for the society, said: “The Thomas Paine Society is delighted that Thetford Town Council is regilding the Thomas Paine statue to restore it to the striking colour it was when it was first unveiled in 1964.”

Artist Mark Harper who is currently regilding the Thomas Paine statue in Thetford	Picture by Mecha Morton.
Artist Mark Harper who is currently regilding the Thomas Paine statue in Thetford Picture by Mecha Morton.

The statue was given to the town by American philanthropist Joseph Lewis, who believed Paine was a true author of the American Declaration of Independence.

The reason it was gold was because Napoleon Bonaparte said that a gold statue of him should be erected in every city in the universe.

The delicate gold leaf process is being done by artist Mark Harper, who also created the Dad’s Army mural near to the town’s museum of the show.

Cllr Brenda Canham, who cited the regilding as one of her aims during her mayorship when she was in the role last year, said: “I am glad it is finally being done as people have said for quite a while now that he has been looking a little tatty,

“Doing this sort of thing can only help the town, as all towns need something positive at the moment, and I hope residents and visitors will now see this, things like the Duleep Singh statue and other parts of the town and realise that Thetford is a lovely place to be.”

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, on January 29, 1737, and died in New York City, on June 8, 1809.

During his life he published many pamphlets and essays, including Common Sense, which advocated American independence and was an important influence in the country’s revolution as well as Rights of Man, which defended the French Revolution.

The next phase of the project will see the statue’s plinth, which bears the inscription: ‘World Citizen, Englishman by birth, French citizen by decree, American by adoption’ also being restored when funding allows.