The Story Behind The Sign
by S. P. Andrews, (from Suffolk Fair, February 1973).

In recent years it has become the fashion for a parish or town council to erect on a boundary or in a prominent position a sign depicting an event or commemorating a personality of note in its past history.

One such sign is situated in the village of Kettlebaston and commemorates the grant of the manor in 1445 by King Henry VI to William de la Pole, one of Suffolk's most interesting characters. He held the manor by the service of carrying a golden sceptre surmounted by a golden dove upon the coronation day of the King's heirs and successors and a similar sceptre of ivory upon the day of the coronation of the then Queen, and all other Queens of England, in time to come.

Henry, Lord Scrope, forfeited his estates, including the manor of Kettlebaston, to the Lancastrian King Henry V upon his adherance to the Yorkist cause, and the manor was granted to Sir John Phelip, his wife Alice and their heirs in 1415. Alice (grand-daughter of Geoffrey Chaucer) had married John Phelip as a child bride and on his death later that year the manor reverted to the Crown, there bcing no heirs. William de la Pole obtained a re-grant of thc manor and many other estates after his marriage to Alice, then dowager Countess of Salisbury.

William de la Pole was born in Cotton, Suffolk, in 1396, the second son of the Earl of Suffolk, becoming the fourth Earl of Suffolk in 1415. He was a brave and skilful officer, distinguishing himself in the French Wars of the fifteenth century. He arranged the marriage of King Henry VI to Margaret of Anjou and at her coronation William performed the service by which he held the manor of Kettlebaston.

His services to King and country were rewarded for he was created Marquis of Suffolk in 1444, was afterwards made Lord Chamberlain and Lord High Admiral, and was raised to the dignity of the first Duke of Suffolk in 1448.

William's rapid rise to power, for he has been descirbed as "a second king in the realm", and the need for a scape-goat on which to blame the losses of territory in France, led to the Commons bringing in a bill of attainder. To protect him from the consequences, King Henry VI banished him for five years in 1450. While making his way to France, William was intercepted in the English Channel and was beheaded, his body being cast into the sea to be washed ashore at Dover. It was carried to Wingfield in Suffolk, his family home, where his effigy can be seen on his tomb in the church.



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