The Big House is the biography of an archetypal great house and the lives of the family who lived there for over 250 years. On 17 June, 1751 Richard Sykes, 'laid the first stone of the new house at Sledmere, in a God-forsaken spot high up on the Yorkshire Wolds, where wolves had roamed freely less than fifty years before'. The Big House is the biography of a great country house and the lives of the Sykes family who lived there, with varying fates, for the next 250 years. It is a fascinating social history set against the backdrop of a changing England, with a highly individual, pugnacious and self-determining cast, including: 'Old Tat' Sykes, said to be one of the great sights of Yorkshire (the author's great, great, great grandfather), who wore eighteenth-century dress to the day of his death at 91 in 1861. His son was similarly eccentric, wearing eight coats that he discarded gradually throughout the day in order to keep his body temperature at a constant. He was forced to marry, aged 48, 18-year-old Jessica Cavendish-Bentick -- a lively and highly intelligent woman who relieved the boredom of her marriage by acquiring a string of lovers, writing novels and throwing extravagant parties (her nickname became 'Lady Satin Tights'), all the while accumulating debts that ended in a scandalous court case. Their son, Mark, died suddenly whilst brokering the peace settlement at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of the First World War; Sledmere was destroyed by fire shortly afterwards. But the rebuilt Sledmere rose from the flames to resound again with colourful, brilliant characters in the 1920s and '30s including the author's grandmother, Lily, who had been a celebrated bohemian in Paris. The Big House is vividly written and meticulously researched using the Sykes own family's papers and photographs. In this splendid biography of place and time, Christopher Simon Sykes has resuscitated the lives of his ancestors and their glorious home from the eighteenth through to the twentieth centuries.
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Christopher Simon Sykes grew up at Sledmere, and went on to become a journalist and writer.Review:
`An unusually entertaining, instructive and engaging book... this book is a treat.' Sunday Telegraph`A meticulously researched labour of love.' Daily Mail`Romantic, accessible and absorbing...I cared passionately for every one of these people and wanted the book to continue indefinitely.' Daily Telegraph`Witty, absorbing and touching...a splendid book.' Sunday Times
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110007107099
Book Description HarperCollins. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0007107099 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0001069
Book Description Harper Collins, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007107099