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Dad’s Army Museum

The Best Kept Secret of Thetford

Don’t let the title fool you.  The Dad’s Army Museum is a hidden gem and certainly not just for dads!

This is a museum that clocked its 100,000 visitor in 2022, so don’t overlook it. The Dad’s Army Museum is well worth a visit!

Captain Mainwaring

If you haven’t heard of the Dad’s Army television series before, then you will be in for a treat when you visit this magnificent museum dedicated to the finest example of British comedy during wartime; specifically, World War II.

Captain Mainwaring and his Home Guard platoon are probably the most famous part of the Dad’s Army story. His portrayal of a pompous, authoritarian leader inspired millions of viewers while entertaining them at the same time.

The captain was a middle-aged bank manager by day, but by night he was a fierce patriot and leader of the ‘Dad’s Army’.   

The series, written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, was set in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea (filmed mostly in Thetford).

There is no doubting that the Dad’s Army television series was one of the most popular shows to ever be shown on British television; it has remained in our memories ever since its final episode aired in 1985.

The funny quotes that the characters had

Did you know that there are over 60 sites linked to the World War Two Home Front and the Dad's Army Museum is just one example; a hidden gem which is little known yet packed with fascinating exhibits.

The Dad's Army Museum is full of memorabilia associated with Captain George Mainwaring and his fictional platoon from the classic sitcom.

If you love classic comedy and want to get up-close to some of its most memorable characters, this is the place for you!

Corporal Jones's ceremonial uniform

There were 80 episodes of Dad’s Army as well as 3 Christmas episodes.

History of the Dad's Army Museum

The museum in Thetford was opened in 2007 after demand from the walking trails around the town. And the reason that the museum is in Thetford is because much of the sitcom was filmed in and around the town.

At the same time that the museum was opened, a fund was also established so that a statue could be made of Capt Mainwaring to commemorate the association that Thetford had with the filming of the sitcom. This was unveiled in 2010 by David Croft, one of two writers of the programme, the other being Jimmy Perry.

Capt Mainwaring statue

Thetford was chosen as the filming destination as they felt it had the right 1940’s feel, and also the BBC had permission to film at Stanford Practical Training Area nearby (used for military practice to this day).

What will you see?

The museum is packed with unique dedicated exhibits, and you’ll see plenty of original items from the classic TV series.

You can see the Wardens uniform – he had to have 2 uniforms as he was always getting wet, do you remember?! And his helmet!

The Wardens uniform

There is a recreation of Corporal Jones’s ceremonial uniform and also a Home Guard uniform with a scarf that looks remarkably like Pike’s!

An old dustbin hangs with feet showing below, taken from one of the episodes where they were disguised in bins!  You'll definitely laugh as you go round!

Dad's Army Museum Wardens Helmet

There are lots of other pieces of memorabilia and other miscellaneous items and props which featured in the show, as well as war memorabilia donations from the general public.

This is a place to see, touch and interact with some of the most famous comedy characters ever created.

The museum features:

  • the Vicar’s Office
  • the Church Hall stage,
  • lots of exhibitions including photos of the stars
  • letters from the BBC
  • props
  • short video film
  • a 1940’s recreated café
  • a shop

And alongside all that, you can get into the mood with the gentle 1940’s music playing in the background which is lovely!

Vicar’s Office

Dad's Army Museum, the Vicars Office

When you visit the Dads Army Museum, one of the fun exhibitions that you’ll see is the Vicars Office. This is the perfect opportunity to get your photo taken behind the Vicar’s desk!

Marigold Tea Rooms

Marigold Tea Room

Get taken back to 1940 and see what a tea room was like!

Marigold Tea Room at the Dad's Army Museum with a cup of coffee and scone!

Marigold Tea Rooms is the place to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and cake or scone made by the volunteers, to the original 1940’s recipes. Baking has changed since then, so just remember that you’re eating a 1940’s recipe!

Don’t expect cappuccino or lattes either!! This is tea given to you in a brown teapot and coffee in those green cups and saucers you may remember from village hall days! Don’t forget, it’s a 1940’s tea room!

And the prices are lower than your average cup of tea anyway so it’s all good!  For more information on the tea rooms, click here to go over to the Dad's Army Museum website

Was The Dads Army TV show was based on real events?

It was based partly on one of the co-writer’s experiences of the Home Guard.

Home Guard uniform

The Home Guard was set up on 14th May 1940 by Anthony Eden, the Secretary of State for War.

It was mostly made up of ex-servicemen who had served in the First World War and were too old to fight again in the Second World War (hence the Dad’s Army name). Originally it was called the Local Defence Volunteers, but Churchill changed the name to the Home Guard. 

Dad's Army Museum Home Guard box

They were expected to fight the Germans with old shotguns, broom handles with knives at the end, pistols and anything else they could find.

Their purpose was to delay the advancement of the Germans so that the regular army could form a front line.

In fact, under the vicar’s desk you’ll see this original Home Guard box.

Dad's Army Museum Walking Tour 

Dad's Army Museum BBC letter

There is also a walking tour which you can take.

The trail starts at The Bell Hotel as this is where the actors stayed, as well as The Anchor Hotel which is no more, but where the statue of Captain Mainwaring now sits (right by the Travel Lodge!).

The trail continues around the town stopping at locations where filming took place.

You can find out more about the walking tours here on the Dad's Army Museum website.

Opening times and location

The museum is free, but it does have a donation box, and as you can imagine, all donations are gratefully received!

The volunteer staff are amazing – full of information and more than happy to impart their stories.

Opens: Saturdays, 10am – 3pm, but please check their website here as they do also have other opening times and events. 

Location:  The Old Fire Station, Cage Lane, Thetford, IP24 2DS.

Phone:  07470 165795

The Dad’s Army Museum is a perfect morning or afternoon out for all ages and a great way to learn about a fascinating part of British history.

Captain Mainwaring saying "You Stupid Boy" to Pike

Whether you’re a huge fan of the TV show or just want to learn something new, you’ll find plenty to interest you at the Dad's Army Museum.

And remember, it’s free to visit, so what are you waiting for?