Today we look back at the extraordinary discovery of a Tudor pin by a holiday-maker in Farnham Park and the bitter legal dispute, TV documentary and unsolved theft that followed.

In August 1992, Ian Fletcher, from Blackpool, took his metal detector into Farnham’s medieval deer park and struck lucky, finding a jewelled hat pin from the Tudor period, a sapphire encased in gold, valued at more than £30,000.

Mr Fletcher believed an ancient Bishop of Winchester had probably been the owner, and had simply lost the pin meaning he could keep it. But he got a nasty shock when Waverley council, which owns the park, sued him for the jewel, landing him with a bill for legal costs equalling its value.

He was forced to sell his home as the legal fees mounted up, telling a Channel 4 film crew “I found a piece of British history and it has ruined my life”.

As the Herald reported at the time, Mr Fletcher “was initially granted ownership of the pin but after a bitter legal battle, the Court of Appeal decided that the pin belonged to Waverley council.”

The pin then took pride of place in the Museum of Farnham – until one night, it mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again.

“The £30,000 Tudor pin found by treasure hunter Ian Fletcher in Farnham Park has been stolen from the Museum of Farnham,” the Herald reported in its edition of January 29, 1999.

It added the pin was stolen during “what appeared to be a professional burglary”, adding “a new twist” to the story.

So, whatever happened to the Tudor pin? At the time, a Surrey Archaeological Society spokesman said the pin may well be smuggled abroad as it would be difficult to sell in this country.