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Sir Tatton Sykes, Bart

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)


Inscribed with title

Watercolour and pencil

12 ½ x 9 inches

Preliminary drawing for Vanity Fair, 23 August 1879, Men of the Day No 202, 'Fifteen Churches'

'The Illustrators. The British Art of Illustration 1870-2021', Chris Beetles Gallery, November 2021-January 2022, No 34

In 1863, at the age of 37, Sir Tatton Sykes, 5th Baronet (1826-1913), inherited the Sledmere baronetcy and the largest estate in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Having developed a great interest in ecclesiastical architecture from an early age, he instigated a programme of church building and restoration. In all, he financed work on 17 rural churches in east Yorkshire, reputedly spending £1.5 million on these projects. Of the seven newly built churches, six were designed by George Edmund Street, including St Andrew Heslerton (1877).

Sykes also re-established the Sledmere stud, and became a successful breeder, producing two Derby winners – Doncaster (1873) and Spearmint (1906) – and also Mimi, winner of the One Thousand Guineas and the Oaks in 1891.

Having lived alone for the first decade of his baronetcy, Sykes married Jessica Cavendish-Bentinck in 1874, and she produced an heir. However, they separated in 1899, and he then allegedly failed to pay her marriage settlement, which led to a legal dispute in 1897. Generally considered an eccentric, he was obsessive about diet. He believed that the body should be kept at a constant temperature, and also insisted that his farm and cottage garden should be used for growing vegetables rather than flowers.

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