Rare Diss documents secured at auction

Four hundred years of land dealings relating to a Norfolk town were being brought home last night after generous local residents helped buy 90 rare documents.

The historic papers, which document the ownership of lands by the town of Diss between 1303 and 1700, were sold at a Shropshire auction house for �9,000 yesterday.

And thanks to pledges from local residents and organisations, the Norfolk Record Office was able to purchase them and secure them for future generations.

The records concerning the ownership of land at Framlingham, in Mid Suffolk, by the 'Town Lands of Diss' had been receiving interest from overseas bidders.

But officials from the Norfolk Record Office and Diss Town Council spoke of their delight after bringing the documents home, which had been valued at �10,000.

Six anonymous donors and pledges from the Diss Community Partnership and Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society meant that Norfolk was in a strong position to buy the papers.

John Alban, county archivist from the Norfolk Record Office, who attended the sale at Mullock's Auctions, in Ludlow, said: 'It is absolutely terrific that we have saved this remarkable archive relating to a town in Norfolk and land dealings that cover an extensive area. We are enormously grateful to the people in Diss who have put us in a position to bid with confidence.'

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Deborah Sarson, Diss town clerk, said the donors were 'over the moon' that the archive had been secured. She added that the record office in Norwich, which is open to the public, provided the right environment to look after the papers for future generations. However, some of the better preserved documents could be put on display in Diss in the future, she said.