The search for the missing deed: Rackheath councillors appeal for help to find historic document

Rackheath Parish Council is looking to spend around �400,000 on improving the Stracey Playing Fields

Rackheath Parish Council is looking to spend around �400,000 on improving the Stracey Playing Fields on Green Lane West. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Plans for a long-awaited sports hub in Rackheath have been delayed - because an important historic deed has gone missing.

Fran Whymark, Broadland District Councillor for Rackheath.

Fran Whymark, Broadland District Councillor for Rackheath. - Credit: Archant

The village was to benefit from a £200,000 upgrade to the facilities at Stracey Playing Fields on Green Lane West this summer.

But the scheme has been put on hold because the parish council cannot find a 66-year-old document proving its ownership of the land.

And councillors are now appealing for help in trying to find it.

Fran Whymark, ward councillor for Rackheath, said: 'We believe we have been gifted the land, but no one can find the original paperwork to prove it. It seems to have evaporated.

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'There might be people out there who were part of the parish council at the time [it was written] who might have a little bit of information and that could be the key to the lock.

The Deed of Gift was awarded to the council by the late Lady Stracey in 1951.

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Parish clerk Diana Dring said written records of previous council meetings refer to the document as being stored in a 'chest'.

But she said the whereabouts of the chest is unknown despite numerous attempts to find it over the years.

'There is a bit of a treasure trail,' she said. 'But this is not the first time they [the council] has tried to find it.

'Every so often we try and look for it, and we have come to the conclusion we don't have it.'

For the past two years the council has used a copy of the document to try establish ownership of the field with the Land Registry.

But it has not been successful due to an 'unexplained mismatch' between the land held that stated in the copy of the deed.

Instead, the council has relied on a 99-year lease of the land, which expires in 2049.

Because of this, Mrs Dring said councillors have been reluctant to proceed with the sports hub plans straight away, as it does not provide enough security for the investment.

Mrs Dring said the council was now considering tracing the Stracey family - who once owned Rackheath Hall - to renegotiate the lease.

It is also looking to speak with relatives of previous clerks for information about the chest.

• Do you know the whereabouts of the deed? Call the parish clerk on 01603 758249.

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