On May 13th 2000, the new Stoke Mandeville millennium sign was unveiled. Standing on a brick plinth on the green outside the village school, the specially-commissioned sign depicts aspects of village life over the centuries. The 'Mandeville' suffix comes from Geoffrey de Mandeville who held the entire village in 1254.

The top panel of the sign depicts the church of St Mary, and in the foreground, an Elizabethan girl, Dorathye Brudenell, whose family were extensive local landowners from 1409 to 1639. The red-and-gold coat of arms is that of the De Mandevilles and the ducks are Aylesburys – large, almost geese-sized birds, bred for the table.

The bottom right panel shows a Bucks lacemaker and the left, a wheelchair athlete, in recognition of the Paralympics and other disabled sporting events staged at the Ludvig Guttmann stadium, which have made the name of Stoke Mandeville internationally famous. The coat of arms between the lower panels is that of the Brudenell family.

The crow perched on top of the sign illustrates the old saying, 'Stoke – where there are more crows than folk!" A more up-to-date description of the village is, "Where there are more knees than crows." Unfortunately, there are no knees incorporated in the design, so when we get the opportunity and some noble visitors arrive, we add some of our own.

(Puzzled about the Knees Club? Full explanation here.)

The World's nobility visits the village

Knees Club Founder, Lady Mary of Stoke Mandeville and Lord James Christopher, the knight with red socks, display patellae rampant. Lady Mary with Knees Club Vice-President, Sir Howard Castle of Saint Diego – definitely one of the Monty Python knights who say "Knee"! (But we managed to prevent him from smuggling any shrubberies out of the country.)

Knees clad in October lagging for Sir Steven and Lady Trish Young of Victoria, BC during their 'meet the DJs' tour, 2002. Lady Mary with her Ladyship the Duchess Tanya of Dallas – organiser of the 2001 USS Density Reunion – during her tour of England 2002.

Despite the disappointing lack of knees on the new Millennium Sign, Stoke Mandeville won the Bucks Best Kept Village Competition 2000 joint-knee – sorry I mean jointly – with Farnham Common. The two villages beat 45 others to be awarded the Pushman Cup for rural villages with a population of over 3,000 – that's more than 6,000 patellae!

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