Wingfield Castle

From the 1380s to 1504 the de la Poles held Wingfield Castle. The first Earl de la Pole’s first countess in the 1380s, at the time that heavy chain mail was chang­ing to heavy plate armor, was Katherine de Wingfield, daughter of Sir John de Wingfield, the Black Prince’s Chief of Staff. She brought to her marriage the site of Wingfield Castle as part of her dowry.

In 1995 the WFS republished Wingfield, Its Church, Castle and College, by the Reverend S. W. Aldwell (1926). The appendix, which comprised 140 pages of baptisms, marriages, and burials at Wingfield Castle from 1538 to 1836 (including several Wingfields in 1799 to 1837) was omitted. Instead, an appendix of who owned Wingfield Castle over the last hundred years was inserted.

We did not, however, publish the names of those who – when the castle was up for sale in the 1900s – “looked at it” See with a view to purchasing. That number included several pop stars from the U.S. and the U.K.

In the 1980s it was said that Johnny Rotten of the “Sex Pistols” rock group had been about to buy the castle. There were sto­ries of the castle gatehouse rocking to the sounds of various pop groups, who presum­ably were testing the medieval guardroom’s acoustics.

When Gerard Fairhust sold the castle in 1989, it was rumored that it had been bought – not by Elton John who also reportedly had a look at it – but by Roland Gift of the pop group “Fine Young Cannibals.”

The British broadcaster and author John Timpson remarked that the de la Poles would surely be interested to know that Wingfield Castle was “echoing again to the beat of heavy metal.” (Roland Gift did not buy it, nor did any other pop star.)

The castle today is owned by Michael Lyndon-Stanford, Esq., Q.C. (Queen’s Counsel), who is an attorney of very high standing. Wingfield castle is not open to the public or to the Wingfield Family Society. The castle cannot be seen from the road, but it can be seen from the community com­mons, which is on the left as you face the cas­tle from the road.

The village of Wingfield was in medieval times the seat of one of the most powerful families in England, the de la Poles, Earls and Dukes of Suffolk. The story of the Wingfield Castle began in 1384 when Michael de La Pole obtained the Kings’s leave to crenelate his masum mannem Wyngefeld ” and enclose all the land belonging to the estate. Michael fell in love with Katherine de Wingfield, heiress of Sir John de Wingfield, favorite of the Black Prince. They met at Wingfield, married and made Wingfield Castle their home.

He was succeeded in 1389 by his son Michael who died in the Siege of Harfleur in 1415. Wingfield passed to the third Michael, Earl of Suffolk, who led his troops in the 100 Years’ War against the French, who were inspired by Joan of Arc, and died at the Battle of Agincourt.

The history of Wingfield continued with William de la Pole who married Alice Chaucer (granddaughter of the famous poet Geoffrey Chaucer) and was both Duke of Suffolk and a Knight of the Garter. . He commanded the English Army at the Siege of Orleans but later fell from grace and was cap­tured and beheaded while trying to flee to Flanders.

The castle’s history is rich and col­orful and further descendents of the de la Pole family included John, second Duke of Suffolk, who married the sister of Edward IV, and was executed in 1513 by Henry VIII. Succeeded by his brother Richard de la Pole, known as the “White Rose,” the de la Pole male line ended with Richard’s death at the Battle of Pavia in 1525.

In 1503-1504 Wingfield Castle went to the Crown who gave the Castle and Manor House to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and husband of Mary Tudor, the favorite sister of Henry VIII.

Wingfield was passed on to Sir Henry Jerningham in 1544 who later became Vice Chamberlain. From 1619 the Castle passed through the hands of four different families finally being sold by Lord Bemers in 1886 to the Adair family.

Throughout this traumatic period of English history, the owners of Wingfield constantly returned to the security and peaceful atmosphere of the Castle. Although the wall and moats are substantial, it was in fact built as an impressive home, not a fortress. It has altered little over the centuries.

Historical notes about the Castle

The grandson of Katherine (de Wingfield), Countess of Suffolk, William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who in the early 15th century married Alice Chaucer, granddaughter of the great English poet, Goeffrey Chaucer. During this time they lived at Wingfield Castle, Charles, Duke of Orleans, prince and poet, and father of Louis XII of France, was captured by the English at the Battle of Agincourt in France in 1415, and was held prisoner for a time at Wingfield Castle — while his family raised the enormous ransom demanded. He was held prisoner at Wingfield Castle from March 1433 to June 1435 and October 1435 to May 1436, during which time he supposedly had a love affair with the mysterious Anne Molins.

In 1504 the castle came to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whose grandmother was Elizabeth Wingfield, daughter of Sir Robert Wingfield of Letheringham and Elizabeth Goushill.

The Duke of Suffolk and his wife, Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk, would have spent some time at Wingfield Castle when they were not at their main residence at Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk. The Duchess of Suffolk wrote at least one letter that we know of from Wingfield Castle.

Mary Tudor, when French Queen Dowager (former wife of Louis XII of France), was Godmother to Thomas Maria Wingfield. He was later Member of Parliament for Huntingdon and father of President (the Council at Jamestown in 1607) Captain Edward Maria Wingfield.

33rd WFS Annual Meeting
September 19-22, 2019
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