Sledmere House is a grade I listed Georgian house and gardens open to the public near Beverley. We arrived expecting to enjoy the history of the house and grounds, but got a little more than we bargained for. For when we walked through the gates we found ourselves transported back to the 1940s. Military tents occupied the lawns while their inhabitants marched around imposingly in full army uniform and armed to the teeth. A few nurses could be seen among them preparing to tend to any wounded.
First we explored the house, moving away from the war theme outside to a more genteel atmosphere. The house was grand, as you would expect, but with little to make it stand out from any other of its kind, except the tiled Turkish room, which I don’t think I’ve seen the like of before. It was tiled floor to ceiling in colourful, shiny, blue tiles; a copy of one of the sultans apartments in the Yeni Mosque. Heading upstairs we found ourselves distracted by the model railway running in the library, big kids that we are.
We left the house to explore the makeshift encampment on the lawns of the garden. There was a demonstration of different members of the armed forces from both allies and enemies, with a Soviet, British and Nazi display. A presenter explained the different ranks, their duties and equipment. Some of the soldiers were armed with working guns, with which they fired blanks into an empty space to the side of them. At least that was the theory, until one Nazi nearly wiped out his comrades and half the front row with run-away machine gun fire. More training for you I think.
There was also a dance tent with period music, food and craft tents, a land girls marquee display, an orchestra tent, and one of the largest displays of vintage vehicles I’ve ever seen. It was a fun day out, but the nostalgia event made it. I’m not sure it would have otherwise been worth the admittance fee, and it’s privately owned so no free entry for National Trust members.