Local Information and History
The parish of Stoke Mandeville covers approximately 1600 acres and has a population of about 4500. For administrative purposes it is divided into 4 electoral wards: Stoke Mandeville village, Stoke Grange, Stoke Leys and Hawkslade.
Mainly agricultural in nature, there are a number of small commercial and industrial establishments such as village shops, the Weston Park business park, the Goat Centre and the Belmore Centre on Lower Road. Stoke Mandeville is also fortunate in having its own primary school, 2 community centres, playing field, post office and railway station.
Although there has been little new development in recent years, infilling is taking place on brownfield sites. Boundary changes mean that part of Stoke Mandeville Hospital (which takes its name from the parish) transferred to Aylesbury town.
The Stoke Mandeville Millenium Sign
The main panel of the sign consists of St. Mary’s Church, opened in 1866 flanked by an Elizabethan girl and a Celtic cross. The girl is Dorathye Brudenell, a member of the Brudenell family who were extensive landowners in the village from 1409 to 1639, who died in somewhat mysterious circumstances, along with two younger brothers and a younger sister. A white marble statue of Dorathye, a life-sized recumbent figure is now in the village church. It is thought to date from about 1584 and was originally situated in the former church and moved to the present building in 1899. Some sixty years ago the Stoke Mandeville Womens Institute adopted for its banner, a standing figure based on the statue.
It is from the original WI design that the figure on the sign is taken, with the agreement and co-operation of the Womens Institute.
The Celtic cross represents the John Hampden memorial, erected in 1863 at Prestwood. It was in 1635 that John Hampden refused to pay, on lands in Stoke Mandeville, a new tax known as Ship Money, levied by Charles I. At that time Prestwood was within Stoke Mandeville parish, although it is now impossible to ascertain the exact piece of land involved. Refusal to pay the Ship Money by John Hampden asnd others was believed to have led to the Civil War.
In the foreground of the main panel are three Aylesbury ducks to represent the close links with Aylesbury and the fact that for many years Aylesbury ducks were reared in Stoke Mandeville.
Also in the main panel are the arms of the De Mandevilles – a simple shield of red and gold quarters. In 1254 Geoffrey de Mandeville held the whole of the village previously simply known as Stoke.
On either side of the main panel are ears of corn to represent the agricultural history of Stoke Mandeville and the cottage industry of straw-plaiting which was very common in the 19th century.
At the top of the sign is a crow to recognise the old saying with reference to the village “Stoke, where there are more crows than folk”.
The lower half of the sign consists of a lady making lace – another way of making a small amount of money in the very poor days of 19th century Stoke Mandeville. Opposite is an archer in a wheelchair in recognition of Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the National Spinal Injuries Centre, the Paralympics and other wheelchair games held at the hospital. Although not in the parish, it is the Hospital that has made the name of Stoke Mandeville famous world-wide.
Between these two panels is the date “AD 2000” and the arms of the Brudenell family.
The Stoke Mandeville Millennium sign was commissioned by the Parish Council, designed and produced by Mr Brian Gaze of Ixworth, Suffolk and funded by the Stoke Mandeville and Other Parishes charity.
Stoke Mandeville and Other Parishes Charity
The trust was formed in 1986. It arose following the discovery, by the late Richard (Dicky) Pearce, that a piece of land, approximately 6.25 acres, in Prestwood actually belonged to the Parishes of Stoke Mandeville (10/11) and the remaining (1/11) split between the Parishes of Great Missenden and Great and Little Hampden.
In 1987/88 through the efforts of “Dicky” and his advisors, Planning Permission was obtained on approximately half of the land (the remainder being “green belt”) and it was eventually sold for £1 million.
It was decided to have seven Trustees, five of those representatives of the Parish of Stoke Mandeville, who are appointed by the Parish Council, and one from the Parishes of Great Missenden and Great and Little Hampden.
A Clerk was appointed to manage the Trustees of the charity.
The income, generated from the invested capital, is available to spend on charitable grants for the benefit of the Parishioners in those Parishes at the discretion of the Trustees.
The Trustees meet quarterly on the first Wednesday of January, April, July and October.
Details of the Clerk to the charity can be found in the Parish Magazine for any Parishioners wishing to make an application.