Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society News     

Sledmere House exhibition

Copies of documents from the Yorkshire Archaeological Society's archives will be on display at Sledmere House this summer.

During the summer season Sledmere will be holding an exhibition to mark the centenary of the house's remodelling after fire-damage in 1911. Information about the rebuilding and redecoration of the building will be on display throughout the house about the Sykes family's five-year restoration project.

Sir Mark Sykes 6th Baronet (1879-1919), was the only son of Sir Tatton Sykes 5th Baronet (1826-1913), and Jessica Cavendish-Bentinck (d.1912). He was a politician (MP for Central Hull), a great traveller and author of books such as 'Through five Turkish Provinces' and 'The Caliph's Last Heritage'. He also played an important role in forging an Inter-Allied agreement about the Middle East in 1916 (the Sykes-Picot agreement).

From Sir Mark's letters (MS729) it appears he was involved in every aspect of the redecoration of the house. “no detail is to be put in hand until it has been initiated by me” he wrote in 1914. He also had no inhibitions about making his thoughts known on what he wanted from his architect Mr Brierly “the door is not a copy it is the only possible kind of door in harmony with 15th and 16th century tiles.”

Neither was he afraid to question other's decisions which he disagreed with – an illustrated letter of 1911 asks Brierly - “Are you still absolutely fixed to library on the ground floor in the new building? Consider it will cease to be a library – there will be gardeners carrying palms.”

“I have to live in the house” he asserts in another letter“think how bad for you and me if I live to any age – that I should daily curse your name each time my eye was vexed by a detail my soul could not approve...I am certain that I am entitled to say what shape my mantelpieces and cornices should be.”