William Sykes (1500–1577), migrated from Cumberland to the West Riding of Yorkshire, where he and his son became wealthy cloth traders. Daniel Sykes (b.1632) was the first member of the family to begin trading in Hull and made a fortune from shipping and finance. Richard Sykes (1678–1726) concentrated on the flourishing Baltic trade in pig iron and the wealth of the family was built on this in the first half of the eighteenth century. His son Sir Richard Sykes (1706–1761) married Mary Kirkby, daughter of Mark Kirby, and heiress to the Sledmere estate. In 1751 Sir Richard Sykes demolished the previous Manor House at Sledmere, which had existed since medieval times, and built a new mansion. He also planted some 20,000 trees on the Wolds about his new home. He left no male heir however and on his death the estate passed to his brother Mark Sykes (1711–1783). Sir Marks's son, Sir Christopher Sykes, 2nd Baronet (1749–1801), MP for Beverley, greatly expanded the estate. He and his wife bought and enclosed huge areas of land for cultivation, built two new wings to the house, and landscaped the grounds, planting 2,500 acres (10 km2) of trees. The entire village of Sledmere was moved (much to their chagrin, no doubt). Sir Christopher left a vast estate of nearly 30,000 acres (120 km2) and a large mansion set in its own 200 acres (0.8 km2) of parkland, which survives in the family to the present day. Sir Christopher also employed Joseph Rose, the most celebrated plasterer of his day, to decorate Sledmere. The result has been termed among the finest plaster-work in England..
A catastrophic fire in 1911 left the building a shell and destroyed the Adam-style 1790s interiors. It is said that Sir Tatton Sykes, 5th Baronet was too busy eating one of the milk puddings to which he was addicted to pay much attention, but villagers and estate workers loyally rescued pictures, statues and furniture, china and carpets, and even doors and banisters, including the house's 1780 copy of the Belvedere Apollo. The roof fell in a few moments later. The original designs for the interiors had survived however, and the house was then restored. Sir Mark Sykes, 6th Baronet inherited the estate after his father. The Long Library at Sledmere, superbly restored, is one of the most beautiful rooms in England. The Drawing Room and Music Room were decorated by Joseph Rose. The Music Room contains a fine organ case designed by Samuel Green for the original house in 1751. However, there is nothing behind the facade pipes and the organ is unplayable. The Turkish Room was designed for Sir Mark Sykes, 6th Baronet, by an Armenian artist, David Ohannessian, inspired by one of the sultan's apartments in the Yeni Mosque in Istanbul. The tiles were made in Kutahya, Anatolia in 1913 in Ohannessian's workshop, the Société Ottomane de Faïence. The attached Roman Catholic chapel has a fine ceiling painted by Thomas Errington. It depicts the four winged creatures of the Evangelist in the Chancel and in the Nave, a variety of birds including a swan, heron, swallow and lapwing.
Sledmere House is set within a park of 960 acres (3.9 km2) designed in 1777 by Capability Brown and executed by Sir Christopher Sykes, 2nd Baronet. The plan still survives in the house. Its gardens include a paved sculpture court (1911), an 18th-century walled rose garden and a recently laid out knot garden. Sledmere Monument is a 120 feet (37 m) stone monument along the B1252 road on Garton Hill, built in memory of Sir Tatton Sykes, 4th Baronet, by his friends and neighbours in 1865 - maybe a milk pudding would have been more apropos. The Tribfest (Tribute band) music festival is held here in August. The majority of Sledmere is accessible to everyone. Sledmere welcomes visitors with disabilities and the staff will do everything they can to ensure you enjoy your visit. Free parking on hard surface close to the Visitor Centre and Café. A mixture of gravel and cut grass constitute the outside paths, all suitable for wheelchair users. All rooms are accessible except the chapel which has one step. There is a lift in the House which takes visitors to the first floor, the lift can accommodate most hand pushed wheel chairs. Assistance dogs on leads are welcome in the House, grounds & shop. There are two manual wheel chairs which can be borrowed. It is advisable to book them in advance.
Location : Sledmere, Driffield, Yorkshire YO25 3XG
Transport: Driffield (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : EYMS Service 135 stops in Sledmere.
Opening Times : Tuesday to Thursday, Sunday, Bank Holidays 11:00 to 15:30; Plus Fridays for July + August.
Tickets Gardens + Play Farm: Adults: £9.50; Children over 5; £5.00.
Tickets House (Additional): Adults: £3.00; Children over 5; £0.50.
Tel: 01377 236637