£8k appeal launched to return historic priory seal to town
AN APPEAL has been launched to raise £8,000 to buy a priory seal which had been lost for at least 474 years.
Stone Historical and Civic Society wants to return the seal of the Priory Church of St Mary and St Wulfad's to the town.
The seal had been loaned to the church, which stands on the consecrated ground of the former priory, earlier this year.
But now a bid has been made to purchase the seal, which was discovered by a treasure hunter at Cobham, Surrey, last year.
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Philip Leason, aged 59, chairman of the civic group, said: "As well as being a unique item for the heritage of Stone, it is also of national interest as it is one of the largest priory seals still in existence.
"The seal is jointly owned by the finder and the landowner. It has been valued by several independent experts who have given a minimum reserve value of £10,000.
"However, the landowner has kindly agreed to waive part of his share and for the remainder to be paid to a chapel restoration fund in Cobham.
"We therefore need to raise £8,000 to buy the seal which will be permanently displayed at the church.
"In addition we have to purchase a case in which to display the seal."
It is not known how the copper alloy seal, which was unique to the Stone-based priory, ended up buried in Surrey.
The civic group has now written to Stone Town Council for a contribution to the appeal. Members of the authority will decide whether to give a grant at a meeting tonight.