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Located in the English county of Norfolk, Dereham is situated on the A47 road.The civil parish with an area of 21.51 km2 has a population of 18,609 as of 2011. Dereham is administered under the district of Breckland. The town of Dereham is different from West Dereham which lies 25 miles apart.
The town of East Dereham has a Neolithic history. This is indicated by the findings that the archaeologists uncovered in 1986. A greenstone axe head of the Neolithic period was found near Dereham. Findings included some tools and flint scrapers. Also found in the nearby fields were worked flints in the 1980s. Evidence of the existence of civilization during the Bronze Age also was found in 1976. Burnt flints from a potboiler were excavated from one site and another burnt mound site was also discovered in 1987.
In 2000, finds were discovered that belonged to the Iron Age. Earlier in 1983 pottery sherds were also found by field walkers. It is believed that the Roman Road that linked Brampton with Fen Causeway passed through Dereham. Some pottery and furniture of those times have also been excavated from the nearby fields.
The town may have got its name from a deer-park in the town even though it is believed that Dereham existed prior to the Saxon era even.Saint Wihtburh, daughter of the King of the East Angles, became a monk after seeing a vision of Virgin Mary and founded a monastery there in the seventh century. Edmund Bonner was the Rector for Dereham for a period of around four years from 1534-1538. A number of buildings that had stood in Dereham since long were destroyed in the fires that broke out in 1581 and 1659. Buildings that were not engulfed by the fires included the Bishop Bonner's cottage and the Church of Saint Nicholas'. Before being taken over by Queen Elizabeth I, Dereham’s administration fell to the Abbots initially and then the Bishops of Ely.
The Dereham Church’s Bell Tower was used, in the late 1700’s, as a jail for French prisoners. A French Officer, Jean de Narde, on 6 October 1799, tried to escape from the tower but due to the presence of the guards, he hid in a tree. He was spotted and asked to surrender. When he did not surrender, he was shot dead. Jean de Narde lies buried in the churchyard even today. A memorial stone was erected in 1858 on his grave which bears the engraving"Once our foes but now our allies and brethren." A documentary that goes by the name of "Once our Foe - The shooting of Jean DeNarde" tells the same story.
Sport and leisure
As of now the earlier areas, which either fell under the railways or the industries, are now being used for leisure or sports purposes. Today the Dereham Leisure Centre, which is built on the remains of old railway locomotive depot, includes the following facilities:
The Dereham recreation ground provides the citizens with open-air tennis courts, skate park and equipment for the kids to play various games. Tenpin bowling alley is also offered in Strikes.
The Dereham Town F.C which plays at the Aldiss Park is a Non-League football club. The Dereham Rugby Club play in the Woodfordes League at the Moorgate Road.Dereham also has its team of cricket and hockey. They are Dereham Cricket Club and Dereham Hockey Club respectively.
Some of the known buildings in the town of Dereham include :
Notable people from Dereham include :
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