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The Sykes Churches of the Yorkshire Wolds

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Feb 12th, 2015, 03:11 AM
  #1
ESW
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The Sykes Churches of the Yorkshire Wolds

By the C19th many of our parish churches were in poor condition and would have fallen down if they hadn’t been restored by the Victorians. The Sykes family of Sledmere house were responsible for restoring or rebuilding eighteen churches in the Yorkshire Wolds. Their achievement is unparalleled elsewhere in Britain.

The work was begun by Sir Tatton Sykes and continued by his son, Sir Tatton Sykes II, who has been described as “England’s greatest C19th church builder”. The family money had come from shipping and finance as well as through marriage. Between them, they spent the equivalent of £15 million pounds in modern money.

They employed the best architects and craftsmen of the time, including LJ Pearson, GE Street and Temple Moore. Stained glass came from the workshops of Clayton and Bell, Burlison and Grylls and Kempe. This was an inspired choice as the architects all believed in maintaining as much of the original fabric as possible The only exception is the tiny St Mary’s Church in Cowlam which was restored by Mary Sykes, the daughter of Sir Tatton. Much of the original church fabric has been destroyed although the marvellous carved Norman font survives. This alone makes the church worth visiting.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...lam/index.html


Over the last few months we have visied churches that are unlocked. All are very different and all are worth visiting. Descriptions and pictures are here:
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...hes/index.html

The churches are all small parish churches set in the open rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds. All are very different and all are worth visiting.

They vary from the delightful small Norman church at Kirkburn which must be one of the best Norman churches in Yorkshire. This also has a carved Norman font.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...urn/index.html

Weaverthorpe Church, set high above the village with open views across the Wolds, has a very tall slender tower which feels Saxon rather than Norman.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...rpe/index.html

The almost stark exterior of the Norman church at Garton-on-the-Wold gives no indication of the glories inside. Every surface is covered with exquisite Pre-Raphaelite style wall paintings. These were restored in 1985 and glow on a bright sunny day.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...lds/index.html

Unlike many other Sykes churches, Kirby Grindalythe has an unpainted roof, said to have been the result of a fit of economy. No money was spared on the mosaic covering the whole of the west wall showing the risen Christ surrounded by angels with the Virgin Mary and the eleven apostles.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...the/index.html

The tiny church at Fimber was built to replace a medieval chapel of ease. It is a lovely example of a small Gothic Revival church.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...ber/index.html

Sledmere Church again was built on the site of an earlier church. It cost £60,000 and is one of the best examples of Victorian Gothic architecture with a richly carved interior and orate woodwork.
http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/church...ere/index.html

The churches are marketed by the local tourist board and there are two trails covering the churches. Details here:

Sykes Churches Trail (Northern Route)
http://www.eychurches.org.uk/index.p...northern-route

Sykes Churches trail (Southern Route)
http://www.eychurches.org.uk/index.p...southern-route
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Feb 12th, 2015, 03:55 AM
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I love the Yorkshire Wolds - everyone seems to be rushing off to the Moors and misses this beautiful area. We often walk from Thixendale through the dry valleys and rarely meet many other people.
Wharram Percy, the deserted medieval village, is fascinating too.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/d...ieval-village/
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Feb 12th, 2015, 04:05 AM
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Meant to add - I very much enjoyed a book about the history of Sledmere - The Big House by Christopher Sykes.
Tells the full story of Sir Tatton Sykes (or Sir Satin Tights as he is still known locally!).
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Feb 12th, 2015, 06:22 AM
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I hadn't come across Sir Satin Tights... I'll have to try and get a copy of the book.

We have been surprised just how nice the Wolds are and it is a shame they aren't better known - although perhaps that is part of their charm. There are some really attractive small villages. It's a while since we visited Wharram Percy and it is on the list for a revisit.
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Feb 12th, 2015, 06:38 AM
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Recent work by David Hockney was based on the colours and views of the Wolds. Interesting article here

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...orkshire-wolds

So when anyone asks for undiscovered England send them here!
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Feb 12th, 2015, 06:58 AM
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Thanks for posting the link. It makes fascinating reading. Perhaps we should redirect tourists wanting to see the Cotswolds to the Yorkshire Wolds instead....
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Feb 12th, 2015, 08:26 AM
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Or direct them to the Trough and Forest of Bowland, another stunning area that is pretty much ignored by tourists on their way to the Dales or the Lakes.
http://forestofbowland.com/
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Feb 12th, 2015, 08:36 AM
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Thank you for posting this. Very intriguing.
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Feb 12th, 2015, 11:25 AM
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We have pleasant of seeing small churches throughout the UK countryside. So can you tell us about upkeep and also attendance, i.e., are some people actively worshipping in these churches? The church we attend is in Newton, Mass., and modeled after a cathedral...unusual for Congregational architecture. www.2ndchurch.org
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Feb 12th, 2015, 01:06 PM
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Your question is very difficult to answer. All the Sykes churches described are still in use and have regular services. Numbers attending services does vary from church to church. Some of them are in quite small villages with not very big populations. Church upkeep is dependent on the congregation and also the church authorities. It is possible to get grants to help fund repairs.

Some churches are declared redundant and some of these are looked after by a charitable organisation called the Churches Conservation Trust. This funds repairs to these churches.

We are fascinated by the architecture of our churches. There is always a sense of excitment when we visit a church for the first time and push open the door. Very rarely are we disappointed.
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Feb 13th, 2015, 06:37 PM
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ESW: Thank you so very much for posting this excellent information. We love to visit churches in England, small ones in out of the way places. Luckily we have an English friend who likes to do the same thimg. I also have a copy of Englansd's Thousand Best Churches, which is the heaviest book I own for its size, and which I will never get through. Your photos and commentary are so very helpful.
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Feb 14th, 2015, 03:22 AM
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Thank you taconictraveler. 'England's Thousand Best Churches' is a wonderful resource book and we've discovered so many good churches through it. We also use 'Daily Telegraph Guide to England's Parish Churches'. This lists about 600 churches. Many are the same as in 'England's Thousand Best Churches', but there are a sufficient number of different ones to make it worth buying too. I bought a second hand copy very cheaply off Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Telegrap...glish+Churches

Our favourite are the small Norman churches.
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