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Wapentake of Buckrose - County Council Electoral Division of Sledmere - Petty Sessional Division of Bainton Beacon - Poor Law Union and County Court District of Driffield - Rural Deanery of Buckrose - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.
This parish and township contains 7,040 acres of land lying in the very heart of the Wolds. The surface is undulated and well wooded, presenting a marked contrast with the general character of the Wold district. The soil and subsoil are chalk; and wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and clover are the general crops. The parish is valued for rating purposes at £6,254, and had in 1891 a population of 507. Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., D.L., is lord of the manor and sole landowner.
The lordship of Sledmere was held by Henry Lord Scroope, of Bolton, in the reign of Edward II., and in 1321, he obtained from that king a charter of free warren in his demesne lands here and elsewhere. The Salvayns were proprietors here at that time, as also were the Priors of Kirkham and Bridlington, and the Abbot of Byland. In the 15th century the Hastings family were in possession of the manor, and from them it was conveyed in 1464 to Sir John Lovel, Knt., and Thomas Rasahu, clerk. The next-owners were the Metcalfes of Nappa, and in 1512, Thomas Metcalfe and Elizabeth his wife, conveyed the manor to Thomas Fitzwilliam and Richard Yorke, Knights. The latter had been a successful York merchant, and was knighted by Henry VII. when that king visited the city in 1487. It remained in the possession of this family till 1572, when Edmund Yorke sold Sledmere, Crome, Towthorpe and Fymber to John Martyn, a barber-surgeon and citizen of London for £530. The last purchaser sold the estate to Matthew Hutton, dean of York, and afterwards successively Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York. Sledmere subsequently passed through several hands, and in 1621, it was purchased by Mark Kirkby, a wealthy Hull merchant, for £1,600, and in the 17th century it passed by the marriage of the heiress of this family to an ancestor of the present owner.
The Sykeses are said by the " Herald's Visitation of 1665," to be descended from the Sykeses of Syke's Dyke in Cumberland. William Sykes, a cadet of this family, it is said, migrated to Leeds in the 16th century, and there, as a clothier, he amassed considerable wealth. It is, however, more probable that this William was of the family named Del Sykes, which was settled at Flockton, in the parish of Thornhill, near Leeds, early in the 13th century, and were there possessed of lands and tenements. But be that as it may, Richard, the grandson of the Leeds clothier, also a merchant, was one of the foremost men in Leeds, and first chief alderman of that town. He purchased the manor of Leeds from the Crown in 1625, and died in 1645, leaving £10,000 to each of his daughters, besides vast estates to his sons. William, his fourth son, succeeded to the manor of Leeds. He purchased an estate at Knottingley, and also owned the manors of Osbaldwick and Pocklington, and a moiety of that of Church Merrington in Durham. He left by his wife Grace (Jenkinson) five sons and three daughters. Daniel, the fourth son, settled in Hull as a merchant, and was eminently successful. He married twice, and left by his first wife, Deborah, daughter of William Oates, Esq., mayor of Pontefract, a surviving son, Richard Sykes, who was born 1658, and was 35 years of age at his father's death. He was a merchant in Hull, and added to his wealth by a fortunate marriage with the daughter and heiress of Mark Kirkby, of Sledmere, by which alliance the Wold estates came to the Sykeses. She bore him three sons and a daughter, and died in 1714. He married secondly, Martha, daughter of William Donkin, by whom he had one son. Richard, the eldest son, was sheriff of Hull in 1740, and high sheriff of York in 1752. He was twice married but died without issue. Mark, the second son rector of Roos, was created a baronet in 1783. He married Decima, daughter of Twyford Woodham, gentleman, of Ely, and died six months after his elevation to the baronetcy, leaving besides a daughter, an only son, Sir Christopher Sykes, D.C.L., born in 1749. He represented Beverley in Parliament, and at his decease in 1801, he left by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Tatton of Withenshaw, Cheshire, three sons and two daughters. Christopher, the third son, was rector of Roos. Mark, the eldest, succeeded his father as third baronet, and was M.P. for York from 1807 to 1820. He married first, Henrietta, daughter and heiress of Henry Masterman, and secondly, Mary Elizabeth, sister of Wilbraham Egerton, Esq., but died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir Tatton Sykes, fourth baronet. This gentleman married Mary Anne, second daughter of Sir William Foulis, seventh baronet, of Ingleby Manor, and at his death in 1863, he was succeeded by his eldest son, the present baronet.
SLEDMERE HOUSE, the seat of Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., D.L., is a spacious mansion of stone, in a very plain style of architecture, erected from the designs of Sir Christopher Sykes, grandfather of the present baronet. The interior is finished in a style of the most refined elegance and taste. The ceiling of the drawing-room is an exquisite piece of decoration. The library is a magnificent saloon, 155 feet in length, 25 feet wide, and 25 feet high, with a richly decorated ceiling. The collection of books it contains was made by Sir Mark, and must have been gathered at a great expense. Among the paintings are a "Pieta," by Perugino; a portrait, by Romney; and an equestrian portrait of the late Sir Tatton Sykes, by Sir Francis Grant. The mansion is delightfully situated in a park of about 220 acres. Opposite the park gates is a temple-like monument, consisting of a massive basement of stone, circular in form, from which rise eight columns, and on these rests a leaded dome, surmounted by a weathercock, in the shape of a fox. Under the canopy is a deep well for the use of the villagers. On the frieze of the monument is the following inscription : - " This edifice was erected by Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., to the memory of his father, Sir Christopher, Bart., who, by assiduity and perseverance in building, planting, and enclosing on the Yorkshire Wolds, in the short space of thirty years, set such an example to other owners of land, as has caused what was once a bleak and barren tract of country to become now one of the most productive and best cultivated districts in the county of York. Anno Domini, 1840."
On elevated ground between Sledmere and Garton, near the junction of the parishes, is a monument, erected in 1865, by public subscription, at a cost of about £5,000. The inscription reads - " Erected to the memory of Sir Tatton Sykes, Baronet, by those who loved him as a friend and honoured him as a landlord." It was designed by Mr. Gibbs, architect, of Oxford, and is in the form of an observatory tower, 120 feet in height, supported at the four corners by buttresses, and bearing a considerable amount of sculptural ornamentation. Within the tower is a spiral staircase, of 101 steps, leading to a small chamber at the summit, from which an extensive view is obtained of Holderness and the sea. At the base of the monument are some unfinished carvings in relief, which do not possess much artistic merit. One of them represents, or is intended to represent, the late baronet on horseback. The monument is a conspicuous object in the landscape for 10 miles around.
The name of the parish has been variously written Sledmere, Sledmer, Sledemare, Sledmor, and Sledmire, and in each form, the last excepted, denotes the presence of a mere at the time the name was bestowed upon it. It is not known when the mere was drained, but records mention it in the reign of Edward I.
There are remains of several intrenchments in the parish, which are, apparently, of ancient British character, and tradition says that a Roman road ran across the park. In Bowen's map of the East Riding, published about a century ago, the Roman road from York to Flamborough is represented as passing the southern part of the parish.
The village is situated on the road from York to Bridlington, and consists of three rows of cottages and a few detached houses. It stands about eight miles north-west of Driffield, 12 miles south-east of Malton, and three miles north from Fimber Station, on Driffield and Malton branch of the North-Eastern Railway. The church (St. Mary), which is situated in Sledmere Park, is a building of stone, comprising chancel, nave with transeptal projections, and western tower. The nave and chancel were rebuilt by Richard Sykes, Esq., in pursuance of a faculty obtained in 1755. Fortunately the old 14th century tower was permitted to remain, but it is to be regretted that it did not altogether escape the restorers' hands, who, in their clumsy alterations, have utterly destroyed its original beauty, and "brought it as nearly into accord with the new nave as circumstances would permit." Two of the bells in the tower are dated 1601, the other 1638. On the floor is a memorial slab of Thomas Wilson, Esq., one of the fourteen attorneys to the Council of the North. He was impropriator of the rectory, and died in 1641. The chancel is separated from the nave by a screen of walnut, above which is a rood with attendant figures, reproduced from a group in bronze by an Italian master. On the walls are mural tablets to various members of the Kirkby, Sykes, and Rousby families. In the churchyard is a 'coped' tomb of granite, with a simple Latin cross formed by the ridges, to the memory of the late Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., the celebrated sportsman and agriculturist, who died in 1863. The nave will seat 160. The earliest entry in the parish register is dated 1696.
This church was formerly a chapel to Grindalyth, and, with the mother church, was appropriated by Walter L'Espec to the priory which he had founded at Kirkham. After the dissolution of that monastery, the impropriation passed into the hands of laymen, who pocketed the tithes, and allowed £8 per year for a minister. For this small sum it was impossible to obtain the constant ministry of a curate, and consequently the church was only served once a fortnight. The dependence of Sledmere upon the mother church of Grindalyth was acknowledged down to recent years by the payment of 2s. 6d. at Easter, and the presentation of the key by the chapel warden. The living is now a vicarage, augmented in 1875 by the patron and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and now worth £300 a year, including nine acres of glebe. It is in the gift of Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart., and held by the Rev. N. W. J. Mant, B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1889, at a cost of £300, raised by subscription. It will seat 120 persons, and attached is a small Sunday-school. The chapel is in the Driffield circuit.
The National School is a handsome building of brick, erected in 1875, at the sole expense of Sir Tatton Sykes, by whom also it is entirely supported. Attached is a house for the master.
CROOM was formerly a hamlet in this parish. Oliver de Crohum occurs in the list of grantees to Bridlington Priory. The last owners of Croom, before it passed by sale to the Sykses, were the Rousbys, to whom there are several tablets in the church.
Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.