Village Focus: Sledmere is a house at the heart of the community

Sledmere House has been welcoming visitors for more than 250 years.
Sledmere House has been welcoming visitors for more than 250 years.
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The entire population of the local parish may number less than 400 but despite its small size, it is unlikely that you would not take note of Sledmere on a journey through the Yorkshire Wolds’ scenic B-roads.

A series of striking landmarks give the village, on the B1253 seven miles north-west of Driffield, a distinctive sense of place.

Sledmere House is one of them. Originally built in 1751 by Richard Sykes, the country house has remained in the Sykes family since and is the current home of Sir Tatton Sykes, 8th baronet.

It is a Georgian house but Edwardian too having been gutted by a fire in 1911 and then undergoing restoration work that continued throughout much of the First World War. The building really came into its own once Sir Richard Sykes came of age in 1926, according to the official history of Sledmere Estate.

Visitors have been welcomed there for over 250 years and today people can visit its well-maintained gardens, take a tour of the house, visit working stables and its rare breed farm and stock up at its farm shop, cafe and bakery.

It is also available to hire out as a wedding and celebration venue, and offers a programme of events. Next weekend, it hosts a Vintage Sunday alongside the NECPWA (The North of England Classic and Pre War Automobiles Club) Car Rally when more than 400 vintage cars, motorcycles and caravans will be on show. Between 10am and 5pm a vintage fair will be open to visitors. There will be displays and re-enactments showing what life was like during the 1940s and ‘Diana’ the shire horse will be equipped with an old-style agricultural cart in tow.

Two weeks later, on Sunday, July 8, Sledmere’s annual charity car boot sale organised by the local community will be held on the estate’s parkland. Proceeds will go to local good causes such as the village hall, school and the church.

The connection between the working estate connected with the house and the village of Sledmere itself runs deep, according to 39-year-old mother-of-one Lindsey Karavics, who moved to the village from Scotland nine years ago with her husband Andrew. Both had grown up nearby.

Lindsey works as the events co-ordinator at Sledmere House, while Andrew is its head gardener.

“This is an estate village, a lot of the workers live in the village - the house community spills into the village community really,” says Lindsey.

“They (Sledmere House) always hold events for the community. For the Queen’s Jubilee they had a garden party for local people - they are encouraged to use what we have got here. It’s a huge part of what the estate is about and the house is the focal point of the village.”